by Aubrey Harmon
Walking into the sanctuary for the first meeting of the Community of Travelers, I was nervous. In the last few years I’ve been to church maybe a dozen times. I have a deep desire to find my spiritual home, but I had yet to find a place where all of my pieces (bisexual, woman, mother, spouse-of-an-atheist, Christian) fit. I had attended church services at St. Aidan’s twice, where I met the Rev. Tommy Dillon. At one of St. Aidan’s events – Sacred Cocktails, I heard the Rev. Megan Rohrer speak, and was inspired by her story. Knowing that both would be leading the Community of Travelers, I had hope that would find the oft-searched for home.
Before the gathering, Tommy asked me to do a reading and most of my nervousness focused on whether I’d be able to do so without getting tongue-twisted. I tend to shyness. I should not have worried.
Queen Michelle Jordan opened the service with a song, and as she walked among us, barefoot and singing, I was brought to my center. My fears faded and I felt welcomed with open arms and open hearts. I was able to be present as we all came together to create something new.
The sanctuary was arranged in a more communal fashion than I had seen before. The altar was brought into the center of the room, and we sat in a semi-circle around it. Both Tommy and Megan sat among us during the service, which helped to dismantle any wall that might be between us. There were hundreds of pennies arranged around the altar in a large circle – almost a heart shape.
The theme of the service was being both lost and found, and being valued as children of God. Megan gave a short sermon – speaking about finding the pennies in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, one of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Even in such a place, pennies were lost, forgotten, ignored. Until someone noticed, picked them up, valued them.
I have felt lost and unseen in much of my life. I am encouraged that this will be a place where I will be heard, seen, and valued by fellow Christians and God. It will also be a place where I am able to hear, see, and value those around me.
We were encouraged to take time to either join small group activities (discussion of the readings or creating an icon) or to do something individually, as we were moved. I was drawn to light a candle for an ailing family member, then prayed before an icon, and then joined the small group discussion. I felt unrestricted and as though I could contribute to the whole, even as I moved from one place to another.
When we all came together as a group, I felt as though we were in the presence of something larger than our individual selves. The Eucharist, where we each shared the wine with one another, was Communion in a way I hadn’t experienced before. When I went out at the end of the service, I spent much of the evening attempting to put into words what I had felt as I shared with my family and friends.
I am deeply excited about what this service is, what it will be, and what I can bring to the table. And I am thankful to Tommy, Megan, and Deacon David and everyone who had a part in creating the Community of Travelers.