New York in October

Yes, it’s been a while since I posted, and there are a whole host of reasons – midterms, the adjustment to life in the magically singular city that is New York, personal drama/trauma/shenanigans (oh, you would not believe – it’s like a bad joke! Pastors, imams, college administrators, nasty emails, illness and sexism and everything all at once…), and my ongoing obligations to write about religion in so many other settings. But here I am.

I still haven’t found a permanent church yet, which is sad, but I’ve found pockets of holy calm. I’ve gone to a few masses at a Jesuit church downtown (Saint Francis Xavier), which I loved – at one mass, a woman from the church’s Catholic Lesbians group spoke about how her community celebrates marriages and adoptions and other life events, about how they hope that they can be married in the church one day, about how they support women’s ordination… and everyone clapped, including the priest. It wasn’t like they were clapping because this was an exceptional event, though – it was the normal friendly clapping of a congregation, which somehow made it even better.

There’s another Catholic church closer to me that I hope to check out soon – I’d love to be able to walk to mass. I didn’t realize until moving here that distance actually matters in New York – and long subway rides really take it out of me.

But in the meantime, I actually attended a Roman Catholic Womanpriest eucharist the other day! The community meets monthly down at Judson Memorial. There were fifteen people in attendance. We sat in a half-circle in a basement. And it was so good. The priest brought such good energy to the space. Even one argumentative attendee who raised eyebrows during the “group homily” (essentially a text discussion) didn’t make me uncomfortable for long. The liturgical words were mostly lovely (mostly written by Sr. Joan Chittister, I think), radically altered in the best ways. I did question the choice to replace all references to “sin” with words like “failing,” though – I believe that the concept of sin is often used to abuse, but God, I believe in sin. But like – a community that’s actively trying new stuff? What a concept!

It’s getting colder now, and I’m trying to settle in – to the long search for a spiritual community, to the process of learning where I’m going, to the long, lively island where I am now. I hope I can be more present, that despite the messiness of my life right now (seriously, I had a friend in a crisis come over at 11 last night, then had a Skype argument at midnight, then a second Skype conversation until 2:30 am, all about gender and religion and how they break us apart), I can be better at being.

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