Friday, August 05, 2005

Faith Story, part iv--Orange Chairs and the Holy Spirit

Do we really want to talk about high school? I don't. As an earlier generation of authors would say, gentle reader, let's draw a veil over that period, shall we?

Thankfully I did have some best friends, one of whom happened to be a fellow Episcopalian. By now we had moved to the suburbs, but we still went to church in the city. But my friend started taking me to youth group. What a revelation! People talked about their faith We played games and sat on the floor of people's houses. The curate wore jeans. Such a different experience entirely on Wednesday evenings from what was going on in my Sunday life.

Many times in my life I've found myself straddling two cultures. That was certainly one of those times.

It never occurred to me to stop going to church with my parents. I didn't have that much of an outward rebellious nature (I preferred passive aggressive stuff). And I did have a commitment to that Sunday School. And I was loved. Even if, by now, I was realizing it was odd.

One of the reasons I absolutely believe that there is something objectively happening in Holy Communion besides our intent is that I was formed by that experience of worship. In so many ways, my childhood experience of faith failed so many tests, and yet I know I was formed. I kept wanting something MORE.

It was during those years I had my first experience of the Holy Spirit guiding me. Those were not words I used then, nor did I figure it out until much later (probably while working on some version of THE STORY).

Of all things, it happened to me in the grungy tunnel that connects the underground Undergrad Libary at the University of Illinois with the Main Library. (Why is it underground? You can't throw shade on the corn, of course. No, really). I had visited three colleges in upstate New York because I thought that's where people went to college, right? They were all very nice, but it just didn't feel right.
A friend invited me down to the U of I to take the tour, and there, in the tunnel by the old laminate orange chairs and the vending machines, I knew I was supposed to go to school there.

That was my first instance of trusting the Spirit. And it has also formed my theology of inspirational moments. You can trust them more in a crappy setting. Anyone can feel inspired watching a sunset over the Pacific Ocean. It may even make you want to move to Hawaii/California/Oregon. But when you have the feeling of rightness in the midst of modern institutional architecture, you have a slightly better shot at hearing the Spirit then in just being moved by aesthetics.


At 10:17 AM, Blogger Anna said...

So true, Emily! It's easy for me to feel God's presence when sitting alone out in his creation.

But feeling God's presence when five people are walking abreast on a narrow city sidewalk right in front of me, it's raining, and I'm late for a meeting? MUCH harder!


Post a Comment

<< Home