I’m not a spiritual person, but I can still pray:
Please take me to church.
Take me to the church of feeling well, feeling worthy, feeling whole, and sing with me the hymns of healing, of maitri, of letting go. Let our voices rise into a crescendo, overpowering my self-hating thoughts.
Take me to the church of loving my body. Whisper reassuringly that after 40 years of hard work, it’s okay to need repairs. That this developing patina is just as good—no, better—than being too innocent, too clean.
Sit with me in the pews and read verses that soothe the ache of not fitting in, of weirdness, of feeling like some leprous quality within me drives people away. Kneel with me; point out others who are strange little messes, just like me. Let us shake hands—may peace be with you.
Take me to the church of not knowing f*cking anything. Of almost never getting it right. Where it’s okay to stumble over small talk, to backslide under pressure, to feel like a clueless, tongue-tied 13-year-old surrounded by talented, charismatic geniuses.
Let the sermons teach me that we all feel a little worthless sometimes, and that how it feels doesn’t necessarily make it true. Let the wafer and wine be transformed on my tongue into a blessing of self-confidence.
Take me to the church of awareness and discipline, where I might finally unlearn the art of self-sabotage.
And then send me to confession. Leave me there for weeks. Bar the door until I have confessed every ounce of heaviness from my soul. Until I have finally forgiven myself.
Take me to the church of my childhood—of anger, of abandonment, of anguish. Let’s light a candle and let this one rest.
Take me to the church of trust. Show me that just as the sunlight turns glass into glowing jewels, so too can our light reveal what’s beautiful at the core of us. Give me faith that despite everything, we all have some good inside of us. Even, yes, the ones who hurt us.
Walk me through those heavy church doors and convince me that I am not too old, too fat, too jaded to be loved again.
Take me to the church of feeling settled in who I am. To the church of friendship, and of desire, and of truth. Baptize me with hope and possibility—the good kind of unknowing.
Take me to church.