Thursday, December 11, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 16 Days Letting My Community Down

I attended an annual Christmas party at our local museum.

I had just come from work two hours away, and after trying on four "holiday" outfits that no longer fit, I changed back into my rumpled, non-festive work clothes, added a Santa pin, and headed to the party.

There is always great food at this particular party and I must admit that the yearly membership dues are well worth the bellying up to the trough to support our museum.

I live in a relatively small and close-knit town, so I tend to know a lot of people through my previous involvement with my community.

But as I visited with other guests that I literally had not seen since last year's party, I realized that my participation in my community was seriously laking.

I haven't been to church in a few years. Really, since my father died. Just a few days after he passed, I sang with my church's choir as we performed Handel's Messiah. Some of my choir members were surprised to see me there so I told them I was doing this for my father.

Shortly after that, hot flashes made being draped in a polyester robe unbearable and the fibromyalgia and arthritis pain made sitting in the pews equally distressing.

To make matters worse, I began to loose, not only my voice due to chronic bronchitis, but my spirit as well.

I would sit there in church disagreeing with most of what my pastor was saying. This was very upsetting to me and I was really having a hard time sorting it all out. Without proper "spiritual" guidance, I simply drifted away.

Then there was the occasion where our congregation were prompted to read aloud a promise of our financial support for exorbitant building funds  on what I deemed an unneeded addition to our church.

From my perch in the choir loft, I looked out over something I felt had been conjured from of a demonic horror film as the congregation droned out some form of a Gregorian chant that completely unnerved me. This was the same congregation that I had observed from a seat in the choir loft just a few month before, that held aloft small glowing candles, there faces lit like a chorus of angels as they sang Silent Night at the Christmas Eve service.

I stopped going to church after that.

My lack of church attendance went unnoticed by my pastor, but the occasional email and phone call from my choir director was really the only encouragement I had to return. However, when I did show up for an Easter service...I looked over at my husband and told him that I could no longer be spiritually lead by this particular pastor. Unfortunately, due to health reasons, the pastor resigned shortly after that, but I still have not returned to my church to meet our new pastor.

My involvement with my community dwindled because most of the people I volunteered with were also church members or of that ilk that would quickly criticize my fall from Grace.

This was a journey and I had to take along.

I just wish someone could have stepped up to help my youngest son.

I learned the hard way that no matter how much you do for your community or church, when you need THEM...

This isn't the best way to embrace the Christmas holidays and attending a wonderful gathering at our museum should not leave me feeling so forlorn.

But this is how it is for so many people during this time of year.

Be kind to one another. Offer not only merriment to the poor, but to those who are poor in spirit.