I stopped going to church a long time ago. I felt let down by organized religion, constrained and burdened by being called a sinner no matter how good I was. I found faith on my yoga mat, in nature, in people - no church-going required. Lately, I've felt the need to find a place where I can go to be only with my spirituality, to feel that I am close to something divine, a place big enough to store my troubles while I sort them out.
Tonight, I stopped by the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine because it's beautiful and I like the way the choir sounds. I went to the 4:00 Evensong. They didn't sound quite as good as they did during their rehearsal last week, though I still felt some kind of comfort being there with other people who were also there to listen to the music. I was able to pray and ask for help and strength for the coming week, and felt lighter when I left than when I entered.
Just outside the cathedral, the white peacock that lives on the grounds was strutting around the church green. I had previously only seen him from a distance. He's beautiful, with a long, flowing tail, and a crown of slight feathers. I whistled a very soft whistle, and to my surprise he came running toward me.
A woman next to me, looking at the peacock, asked, "?Como se dice en ingles?"
I speak a tiny bit of Spanish and replied, "peacock."
"!cómo extraño! En español, decimos pavo." (How weird. In Spanish, we say "pavo".)
I nodded, not knowing what else to say and a little embarrassed by my very limited Spanish vocabulary (which ironically I was working on just a few hours prior to my visit to the Cathedral.)
I agreed with her, "Sí. Es como el cielo."
I wondered how she knew what Heaven looked like. She seemed a little kooky and I was reminded of that show Touched by an Angel that I used to watch with my mom when I was a kid. The woman smiled and left me alone with the peacock.
I don't know if this is the start of a new chapter of faith for me. I do know that it was nice to be in the presence of something larger than my own existence for a while, a place that gave me a small glimpse of what Heaven might be like.