This picture was taken on New Years Day 2013. It is the old medieval church in the English village I used to call home. This church has stood since the 13th century. Sadly it is no longer used because mining in the area has made the foundations unsafe.
The church remains a light to me, guiding me home, wherever that may be. I have moved a lot over the years and I always have to find a church before I feel like I can settle in.
I was raised in Catholic churches but have moved away from it as my faith became more inclusive and it’s doctrine could not contain those that I love.
I have experimented with Unitarian Universalist churches and although they were universally beautiful and inclusive, I need a strong Christian tradition. I believe in a magic, miracles, and that a man named Jesus was nailed to a cross in a supreme act of love and reconciliation and then three days later he walked out of his tomb.
I need a church that preaches the Good News, that we can defy anything, even death, with faith.
So the Unitarians are not for me although they are lovely people.
I have also experimented with non-Christian faiths, from Buddhism to Goddess worship, but they were like ill-fitting designer clothes: lovely, but also not for me.
Just under a year ago, I learned that my fore fathers were Puritans, settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1632. If felt right then that I had been attending an Anglican church – in point of fact, I attended the new church that replaced this Grand Lady in the picture.
I felt at home in this church. I knew the vicar as a friend before she came to shepherd us. I created a new life there. I began to see what it means to have a church family.
We’ve moved out of the village and it will soon be time to find a new church. How do people move to a new place, one where they do not know a soul, without the benefit of a church family? Moving is so lonely, and as someone who makes friends slowly, almost painfully, it comforts me to know that there is a family waiting for us to arrive as much as we are looking to get there.
I do not yet know where we will end up. We are travelling around Europe for a bit and there is still time to figure that out. It scares me sometimes, as much as it thrills me.
And in my darker moments, when I am afraid that I have lost all the friends I will ever have, that I will not be able to find my way in our new community, I look to the church.
It remains a light, when all others go out.