Yesterday, after the sad event of the morning, we went to the circus.  It was odd and fun (and helpfully distracting for the adults), but what I want to write about here has nothing to do with the circus.  It has to do with what happened as we were leaving.  It was late, and Maybelle was giddy with over-tiredness, careening madly through the field as we made our way toward our car.

"Maybe she'll sleep in," I said to Biffle.  "All we have planned for tomorrow morning is church."

Then we both looked at each other, making squinty, dismayed faces.  "That's so weird that I can say something like that!" I exclaimed.  "We need to call it something else.  Like, 'You know, we have that meeting tomorrow morning.'"

And yet, regardless of what you call it, the Biffle-Piepmeier family has, indeed, been going to church.  It's actually a regular practice now.  We started sometime early in February, and here it is, early in April, and we're still going.  We're going to the downtown Unitarian church, and here are some of the things I like about it:

  • Their main emphasis is social justice.  Really, social justice is far more prevalent in the church conversations and writings than God is.  Apparently the last minister got the boot because he talked about God a little too much.
  • No emphasis at all on dreadful consequences if you don't follow their rules.  In one of the first services Biffle and I attended, they did a reading that was about how some groups create communities in which their children have fear always hovering over them, casting shadows like clouds.  They said they want to be a community that creates light for children, with no shadows.
  • You get to hear a lot of women's voices, both in the service and in the various readings.
  • The church is preparing its float for this year's LGBT Pride Parade.  They were apparently the biggest group at last year's parade.
  • At the end of our very first visit there, I was leaving the nursery where I'd dropped Maybelle off.  One of my students was leaving another room.  "Hey!" I said. "What are you doing here?"  "Oh," the student said, "I got invited to come talk to the middle school Sunday school class about my experience as a person who's intersex."  Whoa, I thought, that's what Sunday school is like for Unitarian kids?  I think I may have found my place!
I suspect that there are a lot of jokes about Unitarians, and I suspect they're all true.  It seems to be a thinky, skeptical bunch of folks in the congregation, which means--among other things--that they're not particularly musical.  Jumping in and singing a hymn isn't quite their style, so it seems that Biffle and I are often the only ones singing.  Plus, their hymns aren't old traditional standards (for obvious reasons), so people may not know them.  This morning's hymn was--I kid you not--called "Meditative Breathing."

But on the whole we find it quite satisfying.  Riding our bikes to church on Sunday mornings is a delight.  We like the folks there.  Maybelle eagerly runs to the door of the nursery, and on more than one occasion we've interrupted a dance party when we've picked her up.  We like the things the congregation believes and emphasizes.  So, for now, we seem to be a churchgoing family.


pullupastar said...

I just laughed so hard at the mention of "Meditative Breathing." Our hearts are in the right place. I'm glad you've started going to our church!

Maven said...

I've been a professional soloist at a Unitarian church for 12 years, and even though I started out going there because of the job, I quickly felt like it was the right place, for all the reasons you mention (though our place is pretty dang musical and we make a big effort to get everyone singing).

I grew up Lutheran in a seriously choral congregation and knew a ton of hymns, but I've gotten used to all of the re-texted standard hymns in the Unitarian hymnal. I appreciate the howlers in there, too, like "Heap high the farmer's wintry hoard."

Sarah said...

You just made my head explode.

Mel said...

I love the UU church for all the reasons you mention. I had to laugh, though, when we sang Kumbaya one Sunday. I just looked at Arthur and said, "This is EXACTLY what people think UUs do all the time." If it didn't happen at 10 on a Sunday, I'm sure I'd still be going to the UU church. Instead, I sleep (or take a bus to NYC).

The Mom said...

I should have thought of that fit for you. Do you remember that the Parsons family are Unitarians?

Is that the church we went to for a jazz concert - I think it was when Maybelle was a baby? I seem to remember taking her in her car seat.

The re-texted hymns remind me of the Unity church - we have a lot of them, too. We have a congregation that likes to sing, though.

I'm glad you're all enjoying this new experience!

krlr said...

Ahhh, church. Was just on my mind today! Am glad though a bit jealous you found a 'home'.

Kenneth said...

Good for you! I seem to remember a very funny "Prairie Home Companion" skit about Unitarians. It's the Rapture, the End of Days, and to everyone's surprise, it's the Unitarians who are lifted up into the sky.

Deborah said...

I laughed out loud in that smiling so hard that sound comes out of your mouth sort of way. I have not tried the Unitarian church, but I go to a Sunday morning meeting that really is a meeting... and I call it church!

I love getting to keep up with you through your blog.