I’m not what I’d call a believer. I’m an Anglican. As a whole we’re a pretty stoic bunch when it comes to evangelizing our faith. I go to church. I pray, periodically. I have a comfortable, if at times uncertain, relationship with God. I’m not what my born-again friend would call a ‘Christian’. I consider myself spiritual rather than religious.
Perhaps it’s that less than absolute definition of my faith that has me pondering my experience in church yesterday. Well, that’s not fair exactly. Perhaps I should learn not to qualify moments like these and just take them for what they area. I think it was a pretty profound experience. This is not a blog for religious discussion, and I have no intention of making it one, yet I feel the need to digress for a moment. You see, I saw my father. That’s not an easy thing to do considering he’s been dead for two years.
The church was celebrating All Souls Day. The boy was in Sunday School (for the first time ever!) and the baby was being relatively quiet so, for once, I was actually able to give the sermon my (almost) full attention. I’m sure I can’t do the sermon justice but I remember the priest was talking about celebrating the loved ones we had lost. He referred to a dinner table the church had set with china and flowers in front of the alter. He talked about the idea of those who have gone on before joining us at the alter of Christ. It was then that my father appeared. He was sitting at the head of the table, with my grandmother beside him, tearing into a lobster and having a great time, making a huge mess of the beautifully decorated table. As the priest continued to speak my Grandad joined him, then my Nana, my husband’s father and uncle, and finally my Grandpa. As the service continued around them, my father was helping all these loved ones get the best meat out of their lobster, just as he had so many times at the cottage. It’s an image that can only be truely appreciated by those who knew him well.
It’s not something I can explain, nor do I feel the need to do so. At first I was bemused but as the image grew stronger I began to feel something I can only describe as joy. I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad of late and perhaps this was his way of letting me know he is with me. It’s turned out to be a pretty profound message, one I have not yet begun to process. What I do know is I left church with a feeling of great joy and for that I am thankful.