I missed going to church today. As a Catholic, Easter was always a big deal. I loved going to church…especially all the masses leading up to Easter Sunday. The priest washing our feet, the nails being driven into the cross, the sadness of the passion story and the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection. I remember the songs that we sung, the excitement I felt when I bought my Easter dress, the smell of incense, the joy of Palm Sunday and how all the kids would sit through mass, braiding our palms. How the entire mass competed against the quiet rustle of palm branches.
Rituals are so powerful. That is why churches rely on them as much as they do. Whether it is a Catholic mass, where everyone sings psalms as a group and you already know what words will come next, to the Mormon temple ceremonies, all churches are rich with repetition, tradition and synchronicity. It makes you feel safe, secure and like you are part of something bigger than yourself. You not only identify with the religion but with the group of people who belong to it – even those who you have not met. It connects you to your heritage, your future and in a sense, humanity.
My husband and I both find ourselves missing these things at times. Usually, for me at least, it happens at Christmas and Easter. I have thought about what I can do about this for our family. Do we need to put aside an hour each week to slow down, think and reflect on our lives? Should we make it a point to go outside, explore nature and connect with the larger world in an attempt to recreate our own “church”? Do our children need that ritual to feel secure?
I haven’t got an answer I’m afraid. I do think that there is a difference between the vacuum left by leaving a church and never having had one to begin with. I don’t think you miss what you haven’t experienced. Having said that, a lack of community and connectedness are probably one of the atheist’s biggest challenges. Truth doesn’t always compare to cheesy songs sung with 100 other people.