I was, as they say, brought up in church. My great uncle and his father were ministers, my father thought about being a minister, my parents married in the church they met in as kids, my dad was a regular soloist in the choir, my mom and I added our voices to the chorus, we never missed a Sunday (or Wednesday choir practice). I was baptized, Sunday-schooled, confirmed, Luther-leagued, vacation-Bible-schooled, church retreated, and communioned for all the years of my growing up. My sister and I had a plaque with the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer on our bedroom wall. About the same time as I learned "The ABC song," I learned that "Jesus loves the little children." Not going to church, not believing, was not an option.
Now . . . I have a tangled, complicated relationship with religion. Do I go to church? No. Do I believe in God? I don't know. But I love sitting in an empty church better than sitting just about anywhere, I love the music, from my beloved Bach to Walter Hawkins (who passed away last year -- sing with the angels, Walter). Icons decorate the walls of my house and office, I love the King James Bible (and will never ever switch to the newer versions), and I read many books not only about "spirituality" in general, but about Christianity in particular, mostly Christian history. I recently bought a book about the saints, one for each day of the year, gorgeously illustrated. I have a very nice book in which Thich Nhat Hanh talks about Jesus and the Buddha. Every month, I contribute to a monastery in Big Sur that prays for me (and everyone else) daily. I seek out missions, cathedrals, wherever I go, and I have a St. Michael medal in my wallet and on the sun visor of my car.
I don't know what I am. I guess I'll always be a Lutheran, not a Christian (to be honest, I don't understand when people say they are "Christian" rather than Baptist or Episcopalian -- I think I'm behind the times). At Easter time, my thoughts take up the memories I have of Tenebrae services, of my beloved pastor fasting and praying from Good Friday until Sunday, of my father singing the part of Jesus in "The Seven Last Words of Christ" (of my brother, maybe age three, standing up in the pew, pointing up at the choir loft, and saying, "That's my dad!").
I don't want to be a foxhole Christian, calling on God or Jesus only in time of need, but I can't ever get the word "atheist" to come out of my mouth, either. I guess I'm still a seeker, and maybe I always will be.
Bishop Walter Hawkins, "What Is This?"
I'm happy to say that I met Bishop Hawkins once, some years back, and was able to tell him how much his music meant to me. He touched a lot of people's lives through his ministry.