Micah over at Mama:Monk wrote a post on how thankful she was for her spiritual influences, doing her best to name the most significant. Then she asked us readers to think of ours. So in honor of Thanksgiving, here is my list.
There were the people in my first church, who supported me and showed me what it meant to love a stranger. Their love gave me a home and led to my baptism and confirmation. Although that church was not good for me in the long run, it saved me in those early, difficult years.
There was the Canterbury at Cal group in Berkeley, who showed me what it’s like to live a non-poisonous life of faith. I was this close to quitting on faith and they are the ones who let me know I didn’t have to negate who I was to be a Christian, but that social justice was part and parcel of the whole deal. They’re also the ones who introduced me to the joy of liturgy–the one place I’m always sure I’ll find God.
There is my friend M. who showed me it does get better. She showed me that our struggles matter, our pain matters, and our redemption matters. She showed me how to get up every time you fall and that all you have to do is the best you can. Above all, she showed me how nothing that can happen to you can cancel out love.
There is my friend J., because he’s me, in many ways. I think too much to ever really be comfortable in church and meeting someone who does the same yet found a way to make it work makes me think I can do that too.
There’s Rachel Held Evans, who showed me what it means to both love and wrestle with the Bible. She let me know it’s okay not to be appeased by easy answers. She showed me what it means to be a woman of valor.
There were the many small group leaders I’ve had over the years, all offering me different things. D. and D. challenged me to become part of a group again. E. and J. welcomed me into their home and even stopped singing a particular psalm once they found out it triggered me into tears. M. and G. demonstrated how to live a life of integrity, no matter where you fall on the religious spectrum.
So there you go. These are the people I think of when I hear ‘communion of saints’. These are the people I try to emulate on my way to an authentic religious life. Who are yours?