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December 25, 2011 / Miss Yankovic

Christmas Eve, 2010.

Wow, so sorry I haven’t updated in ages!  (Lawl, college finals.)  But anyway, since it’s Christmas Eve (for exactly fifty more minutes, I thought I’d share an essay-like thing I wrote last year on this day.


Mom, Sis, and I went to [Methodist church name] for their Christmas Eve service – they as Christians in want of a church and I as a mere scholarly observer.  Not just theologically – the church is architecturally cool, and the pipe organ is quite impressive.

And I have to say, it totally wasn’t what I expected.

I thought at least one person was going to greet us Lutheran-style and say loudly, “Oh, and Merry Christmas to you all!  Where you from?  You new here?”  And then we would reply (uncomfortably, in my case) that we’re Lutherans, we’re churchless at the moment, etc.  (Believe me, outspoken I may be, but I know better than to proclaim my godlessness smack in the middle of a crowded church.)

It wasn’t like that at all.  We were just part of the crowd.  No one tried to make polite small talk.  We sat on the edge of the balcony, and no one bothered us the whole time.  The anonymity was quite refreshing.

The service, as well, was different.  They moved things along very quickly.  There were no meet-and-greets, no bread-breaking, no clapping after choir performances.  Other than that, though, it was more similar to the Lutheran service than I’d imagined it would be.

For the entire service, I just watched.  I didn’t say or sing a single word.  I was just on the outside looking in.  But I noticed, for the first time, that a church is more than just a place for people to chant and sing and continually worship their notion of God.  It’s a community.

When everybody had lit their candles and started singing “Silent Night,” I admit I got a lump in my throat.  For a moment, I saw what I had lost by being atheist.  For a moment, I regretted losing that sense of community – well, I suppose I should say never having it, seeing as I’ve been atheist practically since I could talk.

Then Captain Obvious whacked me over the head with his mighty Obvious Bat, and I realized something important:  Church isn’t the only type of community out there.  There are more ways to belong, more places to belong.  I, for example, am a proud part of my school’s marching band – and that’s just as much a community as your typical church.  We do everything as a group.  We know stuff about each other that isn’t Facebook-worthy.  We’ve got each others’ backs, no matter what.  If that isn’t a community, then I’ll be darned.

In conclusion, I don’t need church.  I have my own communities, my own special places, and other people have theirs.  We all have our own places in the world.  I know mine, you know yours, he knows his, she knows hers.  And that, I think, is the meaning of life – finding your place in the world, finding where you feel at home, finding where you belong.

So find your place.  Let other people find theirs.  When we all just focus on finding ourselves and not on finding other people, I think the world will be a much more peaceful place.



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