Returning to the Scene of the Crime

After church this morning …. (I’ll let that thought sink in for a moment) I called my love’s work number and left her a voice message wishing her a happy sunday, telling her that I’m in Orange County doing something that I haven’t done in 18-years (without actually telling her that I’ve gone to my old church, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Orange) and telling her that I love her. I kind of assumed that she’d get the message on Monday because she doesn’t go into work on Sunday.

Interesting day. Some time yesterday I decided to take a step, a step that I hadn’t taken in about 15-years. I’d been thinking about it for some time, but I guess it just started to make sense yesterday. In a sense, I was feeling like it is time to put my money where my mouth is. I mean, I’d been thinking about the time left in my exile from my love and decided that it was time to go back to church. That sounds so weird to say like that, but that’s basically what I did today.

I had been resistant to the notion of going back to church up to this point mostly because I was thinking about it in terms of going back to church like I was just going to step back into the place where I left all those years ago. It dawned on me that when I left I had spent most of my latter years in church in some sort of leadership “in front of the people” position. And given my “experimental” approach to what I’m doing, I know that I’m not ready for any of that. Also, there was a time that it was toward the end of my marriage although I can’t exactly remember, but my now-ex-wife and I did spend some time “church sampling” after we left Calvary Chapel of Fullerton. It’s almost a painful memory going to meetings and especially in the small congregations feeling like a specimen under glass having to introduce ourselves and tell our stories and basically be on display. I’d just as soon not do that. But, part of the point of going to church at all is to be part of the community. That’ll be a big change for me. As I discovered when I analyzed my “mentoring experiences” last year, I’ve not been one who easily puts myself in the care of anyone else and have tried to be self-sufficient pretty much to a fault.

Anyway, I decided to retrace my tracks back to the last place where I considered myself an active member, the church where my ex-wife and I got married almost 20-years ago (our 20th anniversary would have been April 30th, 2003), Covenant Presbyterian Church in Orange. I just wanted to go back and see and experience what I had left 16-years ago. I just thought that this would be a good place to start, not that I really intend to drive to Orange every Sunday. And truthfully, I was thinking when I was driving out there this morning that this is mostly an “exercise” to gauge my reaction, because my desire, what I really want to do is pursue this “experiment” with my current love at her church. Granted, if my love puts off her decision to file for divorce another 90-days . . . I’d rather not be church-hopping for that entire time. But… well, there’s no saying if and when she and I will walk into a church together. I don’t know. It’s just that I’m not really interested in going through the hassle of finding a “church home” out here only to up-root myself to be with the one who I really want to be with in the first place. But, in the meantime there’s nothing wrong with me pursuing my “re-acquaintance” process in the company of others. And going back to my old church isn’t a bad place to start.

Alas, when I went this morning there wasn’t a soul there whom I recognized. That’s not too surprising, but it would have been nice. But then, I do want to keep a very low profile, given that I don’t know if I’ll go there again, etc. Then I also remember on the way there that it’s Palm Sunday. Ack. Parking was going to be a real pain. Oh well, at least I wasn’t returning on Easter Sunday (something I vowed that I’d never do… become an Easter Sunday Christian). Ha! I think that the last time I was at this church was on an Easter Sunday when one of my friends, Stan, had convinced me to come back for a visit. That must have been in ’87. Yikes. I wish I knew what happened to Stan.

Our last conversation was in the summer of 1987, when he called me out of the blue to tell me that he was all messed up because he’d fallen in love with another woman but couldn’t leave his wife because of his kids. Damn, what goes around, comes around. I think he called me mostly because my ex- and I were split up and he knew I wouldn’t give him crap about what he was going through. I think after a bit he got it back together and stayed with his wife. That’s the impression that I left with. What a weird time. Anyway, the place has a lot of history for me.

Sitting in the pew, listening to the choir, I thought about my wedding and the fact that my current love was there back then. And even though I don’t remember hearing it, she was crying hard enough that I think my mom made a comment about the redhead crying during the wedding. I smile about it now, but I was completely oblivious to it back then. She said that she cried because me singing to my bride, a song that I’d wrote for us as she came down the aisle was the most romantic thing my current love had ever seen. She then added that she was feeling very lonely because everyone seemed to be getting married except her. Amazing, after all of that, that she’d fall in love with me again almost twenty years later. I know that we weren’t “ready” to be together back then (not that that ever stopped us from trying…) but it’s still sad to think of how lonely she must have felt. Little did I realize that I’d feel that way not more than a few months into this “romantic” marriage. And the really sad thing is that i would have stayed lonely if my ex-wife hadn’t made such a big stink about how empty our marriage was becoming. It would have been nice if it had all come together with my ex- (as I feel that it would have been nice or at least in some sense better if my current love had found this within her marriage… this is becoming overly confusing). But the reality is that it didn’t happen and all these years later I find myself completely and totally in love with my love. So, obviously, my mind has been all over the place today.

I’m debating on whether I should go to the Thursday service. Oh yeah, if memory serves the guy who has become the senior pastor was one of the guys we always used to pick on a bit in the college group. If I remember correctly, he was a bit of a dweeb and kind of picked on his buddies too. I think he’d gotten a scholarship to go to the seminary in San Diego that I was considering before I got accepted at Fuller. Life is so weird. More later. JBB

Music: Threw It Away – Mark Heard – Ashes & Light

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