Rev. Luke F. Fodor
Saint Luke’s Church
Although it already seems like a lifetime ago, I had the opportunity to go away on sabbatical earlier this year—a three month break from everyday work to focus on the deeper of cultivating my soul. While I learned many things while I was away, it was the “coming back” that taught me the most.
The experience of coming back to church after many months away was remarkable. We all go through periods when getting to church regularly is impossible because of health concerns, familial or work obligations or even a world-wide pandemic. And once we fall out of orbit, the gravitational pull back to the regular pattern we once had weakens and we find new rituals that bring meaning into our lives
There are many things I did on Sunday mornings while I was on sabbatical and rarely did, they involve attendance at a church service.
The transition back across that church threshold for the first time was difficult, but I want to affirm that it is worth it. Before my return, I was faced with many conflicting feelings—both desiring to return to my community and also worrying that it might feel odd or that my reasons for being there may feel false. I worried that the obligation to go back would drown out all the other spiritual discoveries I had made in my time away from church.
When I walked into that familiar space that has been saturated in prayer for over 130 years of prayer my heart found a peace I hadn’t remembered in a long while. As the church filled up with familiar and new faces, I found joy of being in community. Of being one and yet also many. When the music swelled and our voices combined in harmony, it felt like I had escaped the limitations of my individual worries and concerns.
The strangest and yet most comforting discovery was that even when my brain didn’t know what to do in the space my body did. As we walked through the liturgy, my lips and body anticipated what was next and my body moved of its own accord. All of my worry left, and I just let my body just be in the space.
I don’t know if you are someone how has fallen out of the orbit of the old rituals that once grounded you—like church attendance—but I want to encourage you to reconnect with your community and those grounding rituals that bring peace and connection to your body. Crossing the threshold for the first time can be anxious-making, but trust me it is worth it.
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