I Shopped for a Church...and Found Spirituality Instead
I have begun to form answers to questions that pelted me like big, fat raindrops when I first left the Catholic church.
The Rev. August Gold, equipped with a headset microphone, walks back and forth in front of her Sunday congregation as she speaks, waving red-tipped nails as she expresses a particularly passionate piece of her message. She is talking about The Goose Girl--a barely known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm--and incorporating quotes from Caroline Myss, the Tao Te Ching and Buddha. Her cadence is captivating to her rapt audience. She is all light and wisdom.
"Stop blaming!" she implores, her eyes zeroing in on various congregants as she works the room. "Stuff happens." She laughs heartily at her own humor, spurring guffaws from her audience. She is clearly in her element, this compelling senior minister and spiritual director at the Sacred Center for Spiritual Living, a New Thought Church located in New York City. How fortunate I feel to have found this uplifting haven by happenstance, drawn in first by my personal affinity for the messenger and then riveted in a broader sense by the center's "right thinking" philosophy.
I decided three years ago it was time to divorce Catholicism. The priest scandal was the last straw. I had already departed from church doctrine on premarital sex, birth control, homosexuality, priests marrying, and abortion, among other things. With the scandal and its subsequent cover-ups, I finally got the courage to stand up and say, "No more. It's not for me." I vowed to do some church "shopping." I concentrated on visiting churches, rather than get bogged down reading mind-numbing comparisons and explanations of religions. What ensued was a full-blown spiritual journey that has been at once educational, jarring, inspiring and affirming.
I wanted a faith that is culturally diverse, guilt-free and non-judgmental. But did it exist? I gravitated to the idea of a Christian church, mainly because it was what I knew, but kept my mind open. I definitely didn't want to frequent a place run by flakes or spiritual snobs.