Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why We're Here

Welcome.  I am the Silly Episcopalian.  I am also a music teacher for students with developmental disabilities.

I go to Zion Episcopal Church in Rome, NY.  I'm on the vestry, in the choir, and newly hatched, and I'm here to tell my story about my faith and its journey.

I was baptized, raised, and confirmed Roman Catholic.  I went to parochial school from kindergarten through grade 8; I was allowed to go to the local public school in my hometown because of the music program it had (which ultimately led me to pursue music education in college).

As a little girl, I was always impulsive and couldn't keep myself still for longer than a couple of minutes.  Welcome to me messing around during mass, and mom putting me in the children's choir.

Music transformed my faith. "Sing to the Lord a new song" became the philosophy of my life, even though I didn't quite know it yet.

I was also interested in priesthood and ministry.  Mom started quite the lively discussion in our diocesan newspaper about whether or not girls should be allowed to be altar servers (I wanted to be one BADLY); I wound up being in the first class of altar servers in my church that allowed girls to serve.

When we were in school and discussing whether or not girls could be the President, Sister Paul said that we certainly could.  I took this one step further and declared that I'd like to be the first female Pope.  Ridicule ensued.

I didn't really question my Roman Catholicism until it became time to consider things for Confirmation and when we started learning about different religions and different sects of Christianity in religion class.  I learned that the Episcopal Church had female priests and even married priests.  I wanted to go and see more.  But my request was met with a resounding NO.  Resentment ensued.

I stayed resentful for a long time.  My junior year of college I discovered a pianist at the local Catholic church and rediscovered how much fun it was to sing and play there.  I felt like my faith was awakened.  It lasted quite a while.  Sometimes I wonder if the music masked my feelings about the institution itself.

Then grad school in Philadelphia (Temple to be exact).  I was living in graduate school housing across from the main campus in a row house apartment... which is not exactly a great neighborhood, but not a terrible one.  Campus lighting at night is practically daylight.  I didn't know the city, was basically afraid to drive in it, and didn't know what to do regarding subway and church shopping.

Then my friend Grace, who really is amazing, invited me to her church (Saint Mark's Philadelphia) because the choir was amazing and she thought I'd enjoy it.  I was entranced.  First mass was a little tough because it lasted longer than an hour and people didn't RACE out during the postlude (old habits die hard); instead they sat and listened to the (magnificent!) organ playing.

Even though it was a long-ish mass that was weird to me, I wound up going back.  Sharing breakfast with Grace at the cafe across the street from the church, then sharing mass.  And what a mass!  It was such a beautiful, beautiful place and experience.  This planted the seed in me, but it was to remain latent for about 8 years.

Then I met a fabulous pianist in a pit orchestra for Seussical the Musical (I'm a rather decent woodwind player).  I was deeply impressed with his piano-ing, and he mentioned that he was the music director at Zion Episcopal Church.  About a year after meeting him, I finally mustered up the courage to see how different or how similar it was to my experiences at St. Mark's from years ago.

It was every bit as spiritual and wonderful.  I kept coming back.

And that is where my story begins.

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