The 19th Street Baptist Church

I never studied the world’s religions.

I was raised in a Christian home and since that was all that I was exposed to, I became a Christian. I don't regret my spiritual heritage but I have to be honest in admitting that my upbringing has clearly defined the outlines of my spirituality.

Furthermore, I was raised in a wonderful Baptist Church that had all of the bells and whistles typical of large urban Baptist Churches. The Pastor wore elaborate robes with three bars on his sleeves, the ushers had a series of secret codes probably to preserve the key donors preferred seating and most interestingly was inclusive years before that trend began.

The church was both interesting and mystical to me on many levels. I remember making paper airplanes out of the Sunday bulletin in the back of the church and receiving from my father an evil eye that stopped me dead in my plane throwing tracks. I will also never forget the Sunday when a woman got the Holy Ghost on the first row and I was in a state of shock. I didn't know how to process this woman's shouts, flailing arms and most significantly her wig flying off. Then a woman on the third row had a similar experience although her wig seemed to stay in place. I was sitting on the fifth row at the time so I made it my business to quickly move to the sixth row figuring that the Holy Ghost preferred odd rows over even rows.

I suspect that my spirituality has grown a bit since then largely influenced now by the life experiences that I have gone through. Through all that I have faced, though my extreme highs and deep lows, I have come to see that God is profoundly above me. I wish that I could somehow coerce God to instantly beam me out of this cancer experience but for now that is where I have been planted and that is where I must learn to bloom. I suspect that theologically speaking, if I could somehow make God conform to my will then I would represent something to which God himself would have to submit to and that by definition would make him no longer God. I therefore am in the place where I accept from God whatever he elects to send my way and then look for the blessings inherent in his choices for me. That for me redefines this cancer journey.

The story has been told of two boys that walked by a pile of horse poo. The first boy turned up his nose and complained that someone somewhere should do a better job of cleaning up. The second boy became overjoyed and could barely contain himself. When asked why he was so happy about the poo, the boy said “There has to be a pony somewhere!”

My current journey in the same way is one that I find myself looking for the blessing that is to come. I do know that I am in a place that in no way resembles the cute frills of my distant Baptist past. Now there is no organ playing soft tunes in the background and the ushers aren't walking in unison down the aisle to collect for the building fund that never seems to grow. This is more of a barbarian spirituality like unto David when he attacked Goliath;

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.

1 Samuel 17 vs 45-46

That's my journey now; a barbarian faith that is determined to grow in the place where God has planted me and warmed by one unforgettable truth; that at the end of the day, Goliath lost!