One of the revelations of my year emerged when a friend asked about the origins of my aesthetics. “Why does everything in your house have to beautiful and meaningful?”
For reasons that have never been made clear to me, my grandmother and mother attended the Episcopal Church quite constantly and always took me to the regular adult service, not children’s “Sunday School”.
I didn’t pay attention to the words. I took in the velvet, the creaking wood, the incense, the holy water, the rustling robes, the delicate paper of the gilt-edged books, the performance of curtsy (genuflection) before entering the pew, the sounds of collectivity as we rose, sat, and knelt …
In a church every object has purpose and place. There is nothing extra; any detritus would defile the sacredness. Recently, someone pointed out that unlike in other churches where the priest is the focus and high point of the service, in the Episcopal service, communion, a participatory ritual, is the focal point.
I didn’t understanding the symbolism, but I enjoyed the solemnity and intensity of drinking from the big gold goblet.
So these days every surface in my house is an altar, every object has a place and a purpose. Everything must be as beautiful as possible, a recognition and gratitude for the beauty of the world and of our creative spirits.
The only phrase that stuck from the river of liturgy that passed over me as a child was “The Kingdom of God is within you.” I guess I took that to heart.
Beauty and sacredness is not for Him, but for me. Reverence is for nature and craft and creativity.
Now I know why food and wine are precious and reverent. I create rituals as an experience of intensity and communion.
I don’t need a church anymore.