A Christmas eve pageant.

The way the threads of life twist and combine to create a picture which leads us from one moment to another mystifies me. When Tino came and stayed with last Christmas, so many strands were coming apart. Perhaps one of the most difficult was our decision to leave the church in we began our married life and begin the search for a more liturgical, spiritual, and merciful community.

The wise men preparing for the pageant with their guitars.

Since we believe that a church is a community of brothers and sisters whose ties reach beyond the mere bonds of everyday life, it took us almost a year to talk, pray, wonder, and slowly rediscover our faith outside the home of our church.

Being a lover of people, I worried about losing the friendships we had established and nurtured for years at our church. I worried about our children and the possibility of lapsed comraderies. I worried about the message we might send and any feelings we might hurt. I worried about what might appear frivolous and all the misunderstandings that arise from lack of communication, all the gossip, all the ways in which we try to establish and decide how others feel or think without the benefit of asking them directly.

Tino’s photo of our shepherds bringing back their sheep.

Ultimately, all this worry and caution fell by the wayside when talking to my husband, whose longing for a service with less emphasis on the spoken word and more deference to the ultimate mystery of Jesus Christ met my own. As a couple, our journey reached a point when all the books we had read, all the scripture we had studied, all the apologetics we had consumed offered no light and began to taste like rationalizations for all those things we wanted to believe.

Heather and Mike told mentioned Canterbury years ago. We smiled and nodded. An aquaintance suggested we visit. We smiled and nodded. Tino came and stayed and told us about Canterbury, where he decided to attend during his Alabama visit. We smiiled and nodded.

And then, one morning, we decided to do more than smile and nod. We dressed up and attended. And something felt right- from the kindness of strangers to the unconditional love cultivate by Rector Burnette to the music that opened the doors of the spirit. Communion came from a shared cup- a cup shared with our children and with faces not yet owning names to us. And we found ourselves there again the next month. And something keeps drawing us back. I can’t think of another way to describe it except to say “it’s the love”. That’s good enough for me.

Milla slept through her shepherding duties.

Our first Christmas at Canterbury was not filled with multimedia presentations or tweets- it was simple and accented by the commotion of little ones in costumes hiding behind pews. Although we watched a pageant, there was no pageantry in the pews- it was simple reverent love and devotion. I am grateful to Tino for being the final thread- and grateful to watch the picture of the present unfold.