While I was working at my first parish, years ago, a well-known local TV reporter started coming to our services on Sundays. She was the kind of cool, tough, pragmatic person that I often associate with journalism but not always with faith. After a while, I got up my nerve to ask her what brought her to church. She looked me square in the eye and said, “Because I haven’t found any other place that I can do the yearning that I need to do.
As for me, I’ve learned that if I don’t have a place to bring my own longing, my wistfulness, my yearning – I run the risk of forgetting to remember to feel those things, and to value them. If I don’t do at least some of my yearning in the safety of community, I can easily forget that yearning is one of the things that makes us most human – and that doing it together is more encouraging – en-courage-ing – than doing it alone.
So I come here. I come to sing – because singing is a form of sighing. I come because prayer is a form of leaning forward in the special form of yearning that we call hope – and because I find that I just can’t do that sufficiently by myself. I come because beauty both whets my appetite for hope and feeds it too – I come to be in the beautiful nobility of the sanctuary; I come to bathe in the music that showers down on us from the balcony; I come to gobble the beauty of words like “How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of hosts” and “the one who comes to me I will never turn away.”
I come to add my yearning to yours – to pour it into this earthen vessel, this lovely dwelling place where no one will ever be turned away. I come to listen to the yearning voices of the prophets of our tradition, and the messengers of good news. I come as a gay man, longing for the hospitality of God to be made manifest here, because I still can’t take that for granted out there in the world. I come here because there is no other place that is sufficient to the expression of my yearning for God – and because this is a place where I’ll find people to help me turn my yearning into work.Rev. Rick Spalding
Chaplain, Williams College