Over the last 18 months I visited a number of churches as I sought to transition from the UK to Australia. In part because I wanted to reflect without concern that I might hurt the feelings of those I visited with, I chose the more obtuse form of poetic fragments.
It was a beautiful exercise for me to reflect on church visits and meeting new people in this way – and i find that I can recall the larger context for each fragment quite easily.
Finally, after a time I found a church home, one I have grown to love immensely. No church is perfect and that wasn’t what I was looking for – I was looking for a community!
Fragments on seeking a church community
I am new. I am the girl with long curly hair you’ve never seen before.
The one with the brooch with a bird on it that you thought was some kind of Chinese character.
You share with me the soft sighs of grief and I sense that you and your laughter are real.
You tell me that you are the life boat.
It makes me wonder whether there’s enough room in your boat for me and,
if I get to heavy or the seas get too rough, will you push me out?
When you ask me what I’ve been doing with my time, I see you shy away at the answer.
I don’t go back again.
I am the one who was a little early, knowing that I would see you all without your face on.
We stand in the sunshine talking about cell phone towers and football games.
You tell me you’re sorry you can’t remember my name,
and seem surprised that we’ve never met before.
I tweet your church sign which is about how we shouldn’t be following Jesus on twitter.
I laugh at the pretension of my action.
Yet I wonder and question at whether they really think you cannot be found there, as elsewhere.
I would learn your sense of humour and know i had misjudged you.
You squirm a little.
You weren’t expecting that part of my story, were you?
I probably gained a little too much satisfaction in your reaction.
We laugh together at the way your toddler daughter seems intent on jail break at every opportunity.
She runs toward the pulpit more boldly than I dare hope to, and gleefully slips out of your arms and makes way for the nearby road while we all kneel and pray.
You share with me your travel stories, looking to find common ground with a recently returned ex-pat.
But travel stories aren’t the same as living for half a decade in foreign lands.
Living every day moments in a large and diverse country offers different experiences to a two week visit to major cities.
I quietly listen and change the subject in the end.
While we are slow-walking towards the altar rail to share communion,
you ask me about something I shared with you last week.
My heart was glad you remembered.
I kneel in the pews where the choir might otherwise be and
let myself be warmed by the sunlight through the stained glass.
It is before breakfast and the wafer tastes like potato.
The ashes are worn away before I even get to work.
I revel in the colours that change with the seasons.
Red, Gold, and Purple (my favourite).
The green of the ordinary time seems to drag on, just like the mundane moments of life;
but here too, there is a beauty in the verdant colour of new life every day, month upon month.
And here, again, with Purple, and Gold and white, we begin the year anew.
Photo Credit: Anna Blanch 2011. Scotland. Please do not use without permission.
Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.
Anna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born writer and photographer. You can follow her adventures on Not A Pedestrian Life, or Facebook. More of her photography can be viewed here. For more Theology: Naked take a look at Quotidian Home or her previous website, Goannatree.