In our culture, places of worship—churches or synagogues or temples or mosques—are the locations where religions are learned and practiced. Within those walls, people are building a relationship with God—or, at least, that’s what we’re led to believe. These are the storehouses of spiritual wisdom handed down through generations. But I did not attend worship services growing up, so I know almost nothing about the insight they offer.

We live in communities dotted with these sites, but most of us hurry past with the excuse that we are busy and our lives full when the truth may be that we are too intimidated to find out for ourselves, to ask: What are you doing in there? What do you believe? It’s as if those walls are specifically designed to keep us out, instead of draw us in, to shroud religion in mystery, to keep us away from God. How are we to move forward when we’re so many of us are thoroughly alienated from what exists? I’ve told myself that it’s my rational mind that prevents such spiritual explorations, like somehow I’m “too worldly” or “too educated” to sit in a pew or kneel and pray, when the truth is I’m just ignorant and terrified.

Then I had this thought: What if I conquered my fear and walked into those places of worship and attended the services and maybe even communed with believers? It was an interesting daydream: this special place where I felt a certain kinship with others, kind of like the bar Cheers, only with God instead of beers. It’s been said that religion is the “opiate of the masses” like it’s a bad thing…but I’m not so sure. If religion is drugs without the drugs, I’d like a hit please—if just to see what I’m missing out on.

~ Corinna Nicolaou

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