You may want to skip this one, Paul.
It's probably eleven years now since I first walked into St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal church at Fifth and Wilmot in Tucson. I was at a bit of a spiritual crossroads at the time. I had probably much abandoned the Roman Catholic Church after my marriage in 1979, having been annoyed with the church for years about its teachings on birth control and other issues. I wasn't quite sure what I believed, and had spent well over a decade waiting for inspiration to hit, without doing any actual work on figuring out what to believe or not believe, and why.
By 1996 or 1997, I had realized the flaw in this plan, but was unsure how to resolve the issue. My one visit to a Catholic church since moving to Tucson had left me with little remaining affinity for that denomination, and yet I was even less comfortable with the idea of trying a radically different one.
But maybe a less radically different one?
- One of my best friends back in Syracuse was an Episcopalian. She'd even applied to enter the priesthood, but had been turned down. I'd attended her church once, and kind of liked it.
- Madeleine L'Engle was Episcopalian. I wasn't wildly enthusiastic about her religious non-fiction, but what I had read was generally compatible with my own beliefs, such as they were, and even with my doubts and uncertainties.
- There was an Episcopal church just a few miles up Wilmot from me. The yellow pages listing said it featured an Anglican style of worship, which I took to mean as fairly close to a Roman Catholic sense of formal rites. The church also featured a sign out front that I rather liked. It said, "Jesus was a refugee."
Over a decade later, Father Smith and I are still at St. Michael's. I'm the church webmaster, the unofficial church photographer, a lector, a crucifer and a torcher. My mustard seed faith isn't all that impressive, but it gets me through, and it's more than I had before. I love these people, this place, the rites, even the sermons. I'm very glad I walked through those wooden double doors a decade ago.
And I might not have done it were it not for Madeleine L'Engle.