St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Callander Scotland was made of grey stone and had an old green, wood door with cast iron hinges that creaked loudly when Amy and I tried to sneak in for a Eucharist service. In response, every head in the church – all 12 – swiveled in our direction and an eager usher hopped up to hand us a worn photocopy of the Scottish Episcopal liturgy of 1982. The sanctuary was dark and only a few shafts of light fell across the hard wood pews, most of which were empty. Music was piped in through an ipod connected to a few haphazard speakers that broadcast a “click, click, click” as the priest searched for the instrumentals to lead us in mumbled hymns. It was lovely and sad, intimate and therefore inviting, and I was taken back to Church of the Ascension in Sierra Madre, California.
I wandered into that small sanctuary over twenty years ago and was struck first by the almost too realistic wooden crucifix hanging over the chancel, a carved Christ broken on the cross. It dominated the sanctuary. Everything – ceiling, walls, pews – was yellowing wood. And it was perfect for that moment in my life, this warm cloistered, serious space. I was gutted by my recent divorce and needed a small, quiet church in which I could be a ghost. So I slipped into a back pew with my two children, ages 5 and 7, and for a long, long time simply let the words wash over me; it was all the faith that I could muster: Continue reading “Thoughts after attending church in Scotland”