Today I became a New Yorker.
Angelo and I have been without a church here in New York since we arrived in the summer. We attend service in Richmond when we are there but the lack of this connection in our new home depressed us.
On February 7 that changed. On a whim I took the train to Riverside Church in the west one teens. I ran across Riverside's web site months ago and was impressed but did not follow through.
I was amazed by what I saw. The church is a cathedral in every sense of the word. A massive monument of hewn stone, with a twenty-four-story tower, it looms over Grant's Tomb across the street.
The interior is hard to describe without running out of superlatives. The Nave, seating more hundreds than I can count is crowned by a Gothic vaulted roof at least one hundred feet high. The walls frame magnificent stained glass windows that color the sun's rays. Around the worship space are dozens of "small" (relatively speaking) sculptures of saints, divines, artists, authors, musicians and a family doctor. I didn't hear the organ played; it was being tuned then. I knew I would be transported that Sunday, and I was.
Much more important than this grandeur is the philosophy of the place and the attitude of its congregants and staff. Riverside was founded at this place in1930 as a "progressive" congregation. People forget that the word progressive was used a hundred years ago to describe a social philosophy centered on economic justice and the freedom of opportunity. The members of this church appear to embody this idea.
Angelo and I will become members of Riverside Church .I am entering this membership for spiritual and practical reasons. I became a Christian in the fall of 2012 after a lifetime of indifference toward organized religion. Earlier in that year, as I contemplated what I had achieved since my hospitalization - life, learning to walk again, regaining much of my mind - I came to the conclusion that my success was a miracle. This inexplicable conclusion set the beginning point of my spiritual life.
I created my own relationship with God and later with Christ. It is raw, unformed, effective it seems, but unsatisfying. I need to know more, understand more, about a topic as complex as any imagined. I need to understand God.
I joined the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond, a church with which I had long been familiar as an activist. There I was met by a wonderful, welcoming and wise group of salts-of-the-earth. My life in that church gave me confidence and made me happy for the first time ever, perhaps.
I need that feeling here, in New York. This church has impressed me, and in one eight-hour day of discussions and meals has built a place for its fellowship in my heart. This new beginning has already produced results. I have decided I will no longer speak about the troubles that plagued me in 2012 (though I will write of them here. It is the talking that has become tiresome, and I think unproductive.)
The choice to become a religious person is a deeply personal one. For me it is a sign of the progress I am making toward my goal of starting an honestly new life for myself. I will write more on this topic and will appreciate comments. I still have so much to learn.