Saturday, December 13, 2008

I used to go to church secretly as a girl, too

I'm not much of a church-goer, which will probably come as a complete and horrible surprise to no-one at all, but a few years ago, not long before Christmas, I gathered up my flock and went to listen to a Christmas concert. There was a particular reason for my doing so - my dad sang in the choir, and it was during my brief interlude years of trying to live by the concept "if I just act like we're all functional rather than dysfunctional, it'll all go away and we'll be ever so wholesome". Don't judge me too harshly, though, please, there were mitigating circumstances for my behaving thuslike out of character, but I shan't go into those just now, for I really want to get to the point I wanted to get to, before I've spent seventeen blog metres on this and it's half past tomorrow morning o'clock and I pass out, with the point I want to get to forever unreached.

So we went to the church - a big, bold, manly old thing, built on one of the highest points in the city, in the traditionally "working-class" side of town, although why I want to mention that fact here specifically I don't know, except maybe to give you a better feel for the whole hewn-out-of-granite-ness of the place. The church was packed - mostly, I expect, due to people like us, families of the choir members, the choir a hobby choir, neither brilliant nor terrible. As part of the programme, some sing-along was included, and the church organ bellowed out O Come All Ye Faithful, and we the churchful sang for all our lungs were worth, and there was a big, wonderful, exhilarating moment of losing my self into the music, physically losing my self into it, bodily, for singing is a very body thing, and the thundering of the church organ is a very physical music, and I sometimes feel if only there could be rites and rituals I could take part in, like that, regularly, where I could lose myself in that way, I would love to have religion for that purpose, for the here and now becoming a heightened moment, a moment in time separated into an another-timeness, where, momentarily freed from myself, I could be free, I wouldn't really have all that much need for religion to give me a life after this one, if only it could give me that.


Reading the Signs said...

I think we are back to the big 'O' again, my dear. Moments of heightened consciousness or a complete loss of ordinary consciousness, a blurring of the boundaries between I and everything else.

Churches here in Blighty have mostly turned into community centres as far as I can make out. Very friendly, but. Give me High Church and proper ritual any day.

Anna MR said...

Yes Signskins, it does seem that way, doesn't it - it's back to the Big O question. A fascinating subject, though, so maybe not to worry. The singing aspect of it, the involvement of the breath of my life, if you like, combined with the body-drowning organ-bellowing (which really does feel like it goes right through you) was a, well, a thing. Which makes it all the sadder that the churches here, or more like the services, are so mind-numbingly non-big-O-inducing that I feel zero gravitation towards them. Since my childhood, they went and "modernised" the services, made the language and liturgy more "comprehensible", and totally took out any and all magic there might have been. I don't feel like the Divine Being - or the lack of one - should be heard talking - or addressed - in everyday language. High Church, heightened language, incomprehensibilities, rituals, they might still get me out there once in a while.

Reading the Signs said...

Another item for the Topics list, I think, Sees.