Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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The Hunt for a Tribe – Part 2

The reason I don’t say that I feel lonely is because, to me, loneliness connotes a bit of melancholy.  I’m not melancholy at all.  I just thoroughly enjoy face to face interaction.  I like being a part of a group.  I mentioned before how I had a lot of friends that I did things with before they weren’t solely my friends.  They were our friends. Mine and my former spouse’s.  We had friends.  And DagoodS pointed out something I hadn’t really realized until he said it.

“As I am the extrovert, we obtained most of our friendships through me.”

The exception to what he said was that I would prompt the invitations.  “Do we have plans?  Let’s invite so-and-so over for dinner.” As I realize it now, with the exception of one couple, I wasn’t particularly close to any of them.  We just had them over for dinner or we went to their house for dinner.  I was pretty much cut off from them in anything other than a “couples” situation.

So now I’m left with a couple of options.  I can give up the thing I love to do.  Or I can get over my shyness of first meeting people and start afresh.  Given those two options I choose number two.  I see it as a challenge.  Remember I said I’m tenacious? It is in that spirit I decided to give the local Unitarian Universalist Church a go.

I got up one Sunday morning, put on my Sunday best, and made the trek just outside of town to their nice wooded locale.  I’d arrived a few minutes behind most everyone else, thinking I’d have a chance to speak with, perhaps, a few people after the service.  As I drove into the shady dirt parking area it was pretty full, mostly with cars with out-of-town tags.  They were Honda Civics and Toyota Priuseses.  Is that even a word? How do you pluralize Prius? Here I came bustin’ up in there with my crossover SUV.  There were even a couple of cars that had Flying Spaghetti Monster and Darwin emblems stuck to the trunk where an Ichthys usually is.  I would have snapped a couple of pics with my phone but a)I was running a little late and b)I was afraid the folks might think I was up to something.

Dashing inside to get seated before the services started I rushed past the table where they asked for visitors to sign in.  They began with Children’s Church the children’s feature where they had all the little ones in a circle with a story time.  This was Conservationist Sunday so the story was, accordingly, about how God had left a well for all the animals to use.  But he or she felt the need to appoint a guardian of the well.  A lizard.  Who was selfish and wouldn’t allow any of the other animals to get water.  So God, he or she, banished the lizard from the well and appointed the frog in it’s stead.

Then there was a bit of music.  Traditional sounding hymns sung in praise of mother earth and how we are destroying her.  Instead of praise reports and prayer concerns there were joys and just plain ole concerns.  In the middle of the congregation were votive candles where, during the allotted time, members could light a candle for a joy or a concern.  After the candles were lit, instead of prayer, there was a moment of silence which was probably about three minutes but felt like ten.  We just sat there, our heads bowed, our eyes closed.  Well…they were supposed to be closed.  I got antsy and opened mine and began to look around.  I know. I’m bad.  I couldn’t help myself. I was way overdressed.  Everyone else had on shorts and flip-flops or jeans. There was one couple that wore something that appeared to be traditional cultural dress but I don’t know which. Then a lay-member snuffed each candle and allowed the smoke to rise into the air as a sacrifice to god the universe I don’t know what.

Then there was the sermon lecture talk.  Yes, talk.  A lay-member spoke about water conservation and what that means for our city and our state.  It was really rather interesting.  Our state’s water supply is fed off of the Flint and Oconee Rivers and there has been a big tri-state fight over water rights.  It’s a mess really.  But she showed us some interesting maps of places that are water rich now and what they well be like ten and twenty years from now.  The maps made it appear that within twenty years we’ll all be a desert land. Then we sang another song to mother earth and it was over.

I had first thought I’d hand around for a few minutes to socialize, but that particular Sunday they were having a business meeting following the service, so I spoke briefly to the minister of the church and then made my exit.  If I’m honest with myself I don’t think that was particularly for me.  It felt strange to be doing worshipful stuff but not really worshiping.  Not that I wanted to.  I don’t feel inclined to.  It just was odd to me to be all worshippy without worshiping.  Who knows? Maybe I’ll give it another go.  Maybe it would grow on me.  Or maybe I should give something else a try.  Yeah, I think it’s that one.  Something else….what will it be?