I feel the need to pray sometimes, or go to church. I'm not religious and I haven't been since I was around 6 years old. I don't believe in a god and yet often I am tempted to go to church and pray; a forced silence and a type of meditation. I really need to meditate.
I don't really like religion itself, not organised religion, and I haven't gauged quite yet why people completely follow it. At this time of year I'm not really into the whole "He is risen" thing, and at Christmas I don't celebrate Christ's birthday. But, as I begin to face troubling thoughts and worries with an adult mind I can see more and more why God is so appealing, why the church is a sort of safe haven, and why churchgoers become a very close-knit community. This is what I have understood from my local church, anyway.
I am lucky; my local church is friendly and open and inclusive. It is a community in itself, and a part of the community outside. It's a beautiful, old, spacious building. The graveyard has a beautiful view over our village and the trees and the hills. It's a good place to think. It's comforting, when you need that.
It is probably specifically from this church that I have begun to see why religion can be extraordinarily helpful to some people. I don't understand obedience to a god, or a bible, when it limits your freedom of choice, or suppresses your desires. I don't get the God part, but I can see why the concept might provide pacifying answers to questions that are bigger than yourself. What I have certainly come to understand is the calm, quiet, contemplative headspace that the church can provide when you're in desperate need of time to reflect. I really do get that now.
Of course, meditation can happen in any place of worship. Or in any quiet room, or on a walk, or by closing your eyes. But the church, or a place for a community, is a comforting thing and I see much more now why it becomes a daily, weekly, yearly routine for those who need the time to think. When I drive past the pretty little churches in the pretty little places I live near to I feel the solidity and the tranquility of its oldness, perhaps my interest stems from the history of these types of churches too. Perhaps others may feel rejected and unwanted by these religious houses, which for many must be true, but in sitting down at the pew and holding your hands together and closing your eyes and thinking deeply about something there must be some calm in it.
Maybe one day I'll walk into one of these places and do just that. Try to find the calm. And maybe I'll walk right out. It's very possible it's just not for me. But, on this Easter Sunday I think I am beginning to see why and that, in itself, is a fascinating thing.