Church and Family

On Sunday, for the first time in months, I went to church. I had hoped that it would be a Christmas mass, since I like singing those songs, but they were still on the fourth Sunday of Advent. That was fine, too, because that meant that the place was not packed to the gills as I expected it to be. On the other hand, I was also kind of looking forward to being packed into a pew with so many celebrants. Especially since one of the main reasons I decided to go to church that day was because I was feeling lonely, and I wanted some human connection.

I wanted to write about Sunday’s mass because I felt a strong reaction to it. Not because of God or anything, but because I went there feeling lonely, hoping that I would feel less so by the end of mass, just by shaking hands, saying hello and merry Christmas, but that didn’t happen. In fact, I left church feeling lonelier than I had felt going in.

This was a new church in our new neighborhood, and my dissatisfaction with Sunday’s mass had nothing at all to do with that. In fact, I felt very welcome and comfortable. The people were friendly, and the choir was very good (they had robes and everything!). But I think I would have had a similar experience no matter which church I had gone to that day. I was just not really feeling the jolliest, and maybe that’s my own fault.

The thing is, as I looked around me at mass, I saw so many families: parents with small children, babies, teenagers, a group of adults obviously related to each other in some way, couples holding hands. So, naturally, I missed my family. But what’s more, I missed the family that James and I have yet to create together.

So maybe it’s a good thing that we didn’t go to any of the Christmas services because I’m sure there only would have been more families celebrating together, on their way to Grandma’s house to open shiny packages with aunts and uncles and cousins. And maybe I would have just felt more empty, although with James’ hand in mine, at least the feeling might have been less of a burden.

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