Reflection: something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something else.”–Merriam Webster Dictionary
By the time I was born my family had all but given up church. My memories of going are more like snapshots, the first of which is of leaving.
It was winter in Connecticut, I was probably three years old. All seven of us were packed into the station wagon — the driveway exit from the church parking lot forced the car to descend a small hill — the tires slid on ice and we bumped into the car in front of us. No one was hurt. My dad jumped from the car to meet the other driver. Together they assessed the situation, determined there were no damages, shook hands and each of our families went on our way.
My next memory is of Sunday School at the Congregational Church we briefly attended in Houston, I was probably six or seven. My mother was the teacher and although I have no recollection of religious instruction, I do remember making candles. Three purple and one pink, all for the celebration of advent. Mom told us the pink candle represented love, it was my favorite. My mother’s teachings inspired a longing to always light the pink candle when we celebrated advent at home.
Even today when I think of the Christmas mantle of my growing up it conjures an image in my mind. Nestled together with my brothers, sister and parents, candles lit, three purple candles — one pink — singing a song of peace, then, swapping stories of our day in a room void of light save for the lit fire and candles.
By the time we moved back to Old Greenwich from Texas our church going was reserved for Christmas Eve. I have fond memories of bundling up in warm clothes to attend the midnight service. December in Connecticut can be skin splitting cold, yet it never stopped us from going. Together, arms linked, we would stomp off the chill as we entered through the enormous wooden doors of the First Congregational Church. Once inside we huddled together alongside other congregants, candles with drip guards clenched in our fists. The joy of the season once again steeped in the glow of candlelight, stretched out hands across isles, and the sound of Christmas hymns that rose to the rafters above.
In many respects, our home was my church.
My parent’s insistence that anyone was welcome at our hearth never wavered throughout their lifetimes. It was not unusual to find an extra plate set at the table, one of their friends who more times than not would have otherwise dined alone.
The holiday season is here and I find myself grateful for the parents I had.
The days are drawing closer to a time when our family of five — the family Jimmy and I grew — will once again be together and I realize all over again that even now — my home, our home — home is my church.