An Atheist with Two Churches
Owlet, Platypup, and I made our triumphant return to Quaker Meeting today. (In case you missed it, here’s the prequel to today’s post.) The Unitarians were having some sort of regional shindig a few towns south of here that would definitely have messed with naptime. (Never mess with naptime.) I’m feeling pretty good about my decision not to go based on naps alone — both kids and Thor are all zonked out at the moment!
It was nice being back. Owlet is still shy when people start conversations with her, but she’s very comfortable in the kids’ room with a babysitter she loves. I’m not sure she even noticed or cared when I left to go into meeting! I hadn’t been able to decide what to do with Platypup ahead of time, partially because I couldn’t predict what state he would be in upon arrival, but since he took a mini-nap in his car seat on the way there and was in great spirits as almost always, I left him in the kids’ room, too. It was bizarre to go in so unencumbered by children or their belongings, and I dove into meditation with an unbridled enthusiasm usually reserved for crawling into bed at night.
It was refreshing. I have a tendency to get too cerebral even in meditation, but today my mind relaxed more easily than usual and I fell into a really fun, kind of playful state. I spent a longer-than average amount of time connecting three basic ideas: the goosebump-inducing climactic points of several songs Thor and I were rehearsing yesterday, the overwhelmingly painful stretching feeling just prior to Platypup’s birth, and the standard “open mind” image I usually target loosely while meditating. Other than maintaining my focus on each, I didn’t try to make anything “happen,” which is another trap into which I sometimes fall, and I think that may be why I was able to enjoy my triple analogy for as long as I did. It is only now, back in my analytical mind, that I notice one reason why it may have seemed so stable yet powerful — one image for heart, one for body, and one for mind. Neat, huh?
Thus soothed and invigorated, I was perfectly poised to receive the community’s response to my return. They did so with expert grace. Each person I conversed with — or even just made eye contact with! — sent me an extra dose of kindness, but nothing more gushing (and therefore more embarrassing) than that. It was exactly the right amount to make me feel welcomed but not overwhelmed.
I’m glad I resisted the urge to make a snap, black-or-white decision after the “incident” a couple months back. I didn’t decide to stay and be uncomfortable, and I didn’t decide to cut all ties and go for good. A break, and a different experience in the meantime, were exactly right, and the whole experience has been remarkably drama-free. All along the way I’ve felt myself staying true to what is best for me and my little family. Today on the drive there I remembered something the Unitarian minister had said while welcoming new members a couple weeks ago, something like “you know you’ve found the right place when you leave one week saying ‘those people are crazy!’ and still come back again anyway.” Choosing to return… it feels really good.
Going forward? I think I’ll spend some time going back and forth. I like the music, the ritual, and often the sermon at the Unitarians. I like exposing Owlet to more kids and being able to keep Platypup with me without feeling disruptive, even though he and I spend a lot of time popping in and out for diaper changes, swaying at the back, or playing in the room where they have live video and audio feed of the service. The UU feels like an extra-special slice of what the world has to offer. I’d like to keep it in my life to some extent.
But Quaker Meeting feels like home. And after seeing Owlet there today, I sense she feels the same.
It’s nice to be back.