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
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
others who are our companions on this journey to our Creator. We
might take time to sing with beautiful or less than beautiful voices.
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
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.)
have to stretch our minds to recall the real meaning of what is being
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
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
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
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
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
Gerald at Friendly Forest / Hoop Boy