Early dedication of faith
When I was a little girl
I totally dug my church.
I attended services and Sunday school, weekly.
I loved the music, the rituals and the people.
There I was taught that children, parents and elders have value.
I asked more questions than my rector could answer
and I wanted, more than anything,
to wear the red and white vestments of a crucifer
(some call them altar boys or acolytes),
to stretch my arms high to reach the candles
for lighting and snuffing out
and to help the priest with the preparation of communion.
At a very early age, I had the liturgy's details memorized.
But for my short stature, I was certain I would serve well.
I was permitted to don attire
similar to the crucifers',
when I joined the junior choir.
I was six year old and it was there, in the church basement,
that I learned to sing.
I remember being very sick one Sunday
when my mother said I need not attend church.
What she had yet to understand was
that I never had gone to church
because she wanted me to go,
but because I wanted to be there.
I thought God lived at church.
I wanted to be close, always.
I begged her to let me go that day,
"if I'm sick, isn't church the best place to get better?"
What parent could argue?
She let me go.
During the spring, every year,
Mom and I would walk to church before dark
for Ash Wednesday service.
For the next several weeks,
we would do the same
for the remainder of the season of Lent.
While I do remember one of my (Sunday school) classmates
attending once, it was an isolated event (at least in my memory).
Normally, the congregation was minute for these services
and I was, for the most part, the only child.
I loved those rites.
While the weekly Sunday services remained in the bigger, more modern church building,
these were celebrated in the old chapel.
I loved that chapel, in a way I never felt for the big church.
I loved the deep richness of the dark wood.
I loved the way the pews squeaked and creaked.
I loved the nearly threadbare red velvet pillows
on which we knelt.
I thought the altar rail was beautiful,
and it's brass slide lock, powerful.
I found the red carpeted isle alluring.
The windows depicting the life of Jesus,
his dark journey in the stations of the cross
lined the sanctuary's walls
and my favorite, behind the altar, high above,
depicted his time in a garden, praying.
I spent hours contemplating, as I looked at it.
I dove into the flame of the candles I watched.
My soul was ignited, it seemed.
I loved the smell of that building;
the feel(ings) of the wood.
I felt comfortable with the old green prayer books
with their dog-eared pages
and the curled edges of the paperback covers.
I prayed to serve.
In the next room,
to the back of this chapel,
was a big illustrated bible
which my own godfather had gifted the church
as a token of his appreciation
for his answered prayers
when he returned home from his time
serving as a United States' soldier of war in Vietnam.
That same uncle gave me
his Episcopal Church Service Cross;
a medallion he wore overseas
as a talisman of his belief.
When I wore that cross
I carried the intention beyond war.
I dedicated mySelf to my faith, fully.
There was nothing formal of this dedication.
It was all within my heart.
I was forever at the side of my mentors
(my priests) with those streams of queries.
I remember them being amused by me,
but always, the answers I received were the same:
I must have faith.
I must believe in Jesus
and no, I was not old enough, yet,
to serve at the altar.
I daunted them for years.
Finally, they bent the rules.
When I was eight, (still four years shy
of the minimum age of service
required by my church diocese
to gain permission) the rules were bent to allow me to be indulged and
I was gifted this opportunity.
It was very hush-hush.
Because this was covert and thereby, considered unofficial,
I donned the black and white vestments
I had worn in junior choir,
(rather than the red and white, worn by official crucifers)
and was permitted to be of service in my prayer
during the time of Lent.
I was elated.
I took that service very seriously
and while I did enjoy the lighting
and snuffing out of candles,
I mostly enjoyed knowing
that I was serving.
I dedicated mySelf to The Sacred
way back then, when I was eight.
This makes sense to me, since eight
is a number of eternity.
(if you don't understand this,
turn it on it's side,
and see the eternal lemniscate).
In my adult learnings, I have come to understand
that my soul has always done this.
Eternally, I have (and will be)
dedicated to that which is divine, fully.
Today is Ash Wednesday,
and while my path is no longer that
of a Christian follower,
I still hold those lessons dear
for the foundation they provided me
on which to grow my heart's faith.
Lent is an intimate season
It is a season of release,
of listening, of seeding faith
and, for me,
there is a reminder of my earliest call to serve the holy.
Every day is blessed,
I have a fond sentiment
of early morning rituals
and an early dedication
to my service of the Divine and I give thanks for those people of that church who supported my growth, in lieu of following rules. May your faith and dedication be nourished, too, in whatever ways you find them most sincere and authentic to your Way. If you are ready to discuss how to empower and raise the standard of your own dedicated path, let me help raise you up. Reach out for info to learn how to increase your capability and confidence in your truths.
© Spellbinding Sherry