don’t fence me in

I’ve been realizing that I have a problem with commitment.  True, I’m married, and I co-own my own house, both of which are 30+ year commitments if you do it right.  But somehow they seem easier than everyday commitments.  The second I feel that I’m expected to do something, I get claustrophobic and back away slowly, regardless of how much my life might benefit.  

Case in point: Church.  A few weeks ago Greg mentioned that the book he’s reading about transcendentalism has made him revisit the idea of joining the Unitarian church.  Church has been a subject that I come back to periodically but never pull the trigger on.  Growing up, my mother was a Jehovah’s Witness, so we would go to meetings when I was very young, but please don’t ask me anything about it because I really have no idea what it’s all about, as the stories I hear about it don’t quite fit with my all-singing all-dancing all-christmas-and-birthday celebrating upbringing.  So nowadays when I find myself in church for some special occasion, I get sweaty and freaked out because I have the distinct sense that everyone in the room knows exactly what’s going on except me.  Of course that feeling tends to extend to every other area of my life as well, so maybe this isn’t just a church thing.

Anywhoo, I do feel like I missed out on a shared cultural experience growing up.  I’m not one for organized religion, as it seems to do more harm than good, but certainly the sense of community people seem to feel is worthwhile.  I’ve thought about going to Quaker meetings, although the idea of having to actually participate instead of passively sitting there in the back listening to a sermon goes against my lazy side (as does getting up early on Sundays).  But it’s a new year and I’m trying to start up some good stuff, so when Greg brought up the Unitarian thing I jumped on it. A little too quickly, actually, since it turned out he was only marginally serious and got very hesitant when my immediate reaction was, “Great idea, let’s go on Sunday.”  

After finding an excuse not to go that Sunday, we actually manned up and went last week.  It helped to grease the wheels a bit with a promise of breakfast at Little Pete’s afterward.  But we went, and it was slightly awkward but ultimately a very good experience.  Still though, even as I was sitting there mentally patting myself on the back for actually making it there, I started to get panicked.  Would we really be expected to show up to this place EVERY Sunday?!  What about leisurely breakfast and coffee at Black ‘n Brew?  What about recovery time for a crazy Saturday night? What about having to shower and take the dog out instead of watching CBS Sunday Morning?  Oh and I can just forget about Face the Nation right now, because we need to be out the door by 10:30 which leaves NO time for my friend Bob Schieffer.  Oh and let’s not forget the little matter of the pamphlet suggesting a member contribution of 5% of yearly gross salary (Why gross?!  Isn’t net enough for you people??).  So even as I felt all warm and fuzzy and spiritual, I started to see all that time and money going down the drain.  

I know that ultimately joining the church would be incredibly fulfilling.  I always say that I feel that we lead a small and insulated life, and becoming a part of the Unitarian church would mean a community, and service opportunities, and spiritual enrichment that books and meditation alone can’t get us.  And as I said to Greg, if our beliefs are going to jive with ANY church, this one is it.  And yet it’s this stifling sense of commitment and expectation that I can’t seem to get past. “Sitting in church for an hour and a half EVERY Sunday??  Even though more often than not I’d be spending that time in my pajamas instead of doing anything worthwhile?  Even though it carries with it qualities that I’ve been searching for, including community and spiritual enlightenment?  Meh.”

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