Reflections of the Spirit

A letter to answer a question posed to me a few days ago:

Gerald at Friendly Forest – March 1, 2006

Hi my friends,

It was great having your family over for breakfast and a good visit on Sunday. It was long overdue. Thanks for coming.

Mary Jean, you asked a question at the table which has been coming back to me over the days since, and that tells me that my answer was not complete or not what could or should have been given in answer. It was the question asking me why I go to church.

I have always gone to church, and ever since I was a child I think the reason has been largely the same, though I would have had different ways of expressing it over the years. I never did accept my parents’ idea that we went because we had to go. I went because I wanted to go. The only times when I went to church because of my “wilful decision” rather than because I “wanted to go” was during some of what I call the “spiritual drought years” when Sacred heart Cathedral in Prince Albert was my parish church. When I moved away from there and lived in the St. Michael area I once again found that I really wanted to go from my heart as well as from my head.

Let me begin by saying that there are other places besides official “churches’ to which I want to go for the same reasons that I have for going to what is called a “church”.

I like to spend time in “holy” places or “holy” situations. For me the word “holy” describes any place, any person, any situation, any event or time which helps make a connection to my Creator / God. I will substitute the word “sacred” for “holy” sometimes as I use them interchangeably.

The bible tells us that only God can be truly called “holy”, and I accept that. When we use the word we are using it in a secondary manner; as I said earlier, as any thing or any situation that can help us connect to what / who is truly “holy”.

For me then, a church is holy if it helps me and others to connect to our God. If we use it as a place to pray alone or with each other, as a place where we take time to know who we are and where we are. The things that happen in a church should ordinarily help the people who go there to make those connections with the person of God present directly, and also present in the corporate body of Jesus in this present time, the people of God, Christ’s mystical body on earth. We might take time in silence or we might take time in conversation with others who are our companions on this journey to our Creator. We might take time to sing with beautiful or less than beautiful voices. We might take time to see ancient prayers and ceremonies expressed over and over again to remind us of the really basic things of our faith, and we will hear read and commented on, the words of writers who had insight into what was the presence of the Holy One in their lives and in the world. We take part in ancient gestures and symbols that may not be very meaningful in our present culture, and which sometimes lose their impact because they are done in such minimal manner ( pouring a bit of water in baptism, eating a dry flour wafer, etc.) that we have to stretch our minds to recall the real meaning of what is being enacted.

I have always loved sitting in an empty church with no one else around and no ceremony or noise. It would be just me in a physical and mental place that supported prayer.

I also like to be in a church with others who are expressing their prayer at the same time such as in prayer services etc.

I also have been fortunate to have had access to other “Holy” places which helped me to connect. As a child there were special places on our farm that I liked to go to. When I was there I knew that I was not alone, and had the companionship of the trees and the animals. When I was outside I also had the presence of the whole universe as represented by the night lights in the sky. Here at Friendly Forest I have my friends the trees who keep me company in a special way and in a special way pray with me. I have the Sacred Hoop trail that I was called to make in the forest, and which calls me and my neighbours who also use it, to pray in a special and focussed manner. I have the Sacred Pipe which allows me to call together all the beings of the universe so that we can unite our minds and bodies in one prayer to our God. I have been given another sacred / holy space in the Sweat Lodge, and I love to go there to just pray and meditate. It too is a holy place. I am sure that you have special holy places where you live as well.

In addition to holy places I have been given the special privilege of getting to know some really holy people ... people who were connected to God in a special way and whose very presence and manner helped me to see God in a special way because I saw God reflected in them and in their lives. I know you too have known such special people who live with the overflowing power of God’s love within them.

I also know that I am holy. I have come to know that the presence of my God’s life within me also makes me a holy and sacred being. In so far as I live my decisions in alignment with that inner life I will grow with that inner life. In so far as my decisions thwart or contradict the impulse of that inner life, I will demean and degrade the holy that was given to be in me. In so far as I know the sacred and truly holy resides in others I also need to acknowledge that it resides within me. There were experiences on my Vision Quest which will never let me forget that reality.

Why do I go to church? In short, because it is one more way of me coming closer to what is truly holy and sacred. The more time I spend in the presence of holiness the more likely some will rub off on me too.

So, this is the long answer to your question, and it may warn you that my answers always seem to have shorter and longer answers. I would be interested someday to hear how each of you would have answered this question.

Gerald at Friendly Forest / Hoop Boy


Return to Index Page