When I was a little girl I sat through a lot of church services. I’m talking two church services every Sunday until I was about fourteen years old. Most of them have blurred together into one memory that includes the strong scent of ladies perfume, singing hymns and daydreaming the hours away while the pastor delivered his message. Always at the end of the service the congregation was invited to go to the front of the church for an “altar call;” which meant we had the opportunity to make ourselves right with Jesus by recommitting our lives to Him and confessing our sins.
One service though stands out from all the others. A missionary family from Calcutta visited when I was about nine years old to share their experiences and to gather support for their work with the poorest people in the city. They told stories of leprosy, spiritual darkness and poverty the likes of which I could scarcely imagine with my limited Colorado small-town-girl perspective. After that particular service my own personal altar call involved lots of pleading, praying and crying, not for the little children shown in the slideshows, but for God to please never make me go to India.
Perhaps my childhood fear of having to go to India actually planted the seeds of what has become for me a fascination with all things Indian. Still though, going there didn’t really cross my mind until recently. It seemed too far out of reach.
Two weeks ago at the library we received a greeting card from a young man who taught a digital photography class to kids in Homer. The card featured a photo of his most recent students in a small school in northeastern India, not far from Nepal. Something happened when I saw the card. I went back to it several times over the day and looked again at the school children on the cover. For some reason the card made it all seem possible.
My growing desire to go to India wasn’t something I shared with many people and I didn’t expect my family to jump on board with my crazy idea. But much to my amazement they’re into it. We don’t know any of the details yet, only that it will take about two years to save enough money to make it all happen. A savings account has been opened. The beginning of a plan is in place. I haven’t felt this excited in a long time.
So I’ve spent a while trying to come up with the perfect name for a blog. What I’ve discovered is that a lot of the good names are already taken, a result, I believe, of the fact that I’m always about a decade behind the game when it comes to technology. But I think Lofty Minded works for me. Imagining that I have something to say that others can relate to or care about seems a little lofty. And all along the way I’m going to try to be mindful of what I say, and how I say it. One of my very best friends has set a good example of mindfulness. She thinks before she talks and as a result I trust that she will keep my secrets, give good advice and never respond in a way that will cause her to have regrets later on.
Right off the bat I want to say thanks to my cousin Bob for encouraging me to get my writing out there. In a strange turn of events involving facebook I connected with him and know him better now than I ever did in the real world. Maybe it’s because we have several state lines between us that I’ve trusted him to read some of my writing. He’s always been kind, even when we’ve disagreed politically and more importantly, when I made him suffer through my not-so-good poetry phase.
What’s this blog going to be about you ask? Well, sorry to let you down, but I don’t know yet. After giving it some thought though I decided to start it anyhow. One thing I’ve learned about myself that if I think too much about doing something, I tend not to do it. I don’t want to rule any topic out at this point, although I’m going to shy away from politics for now. What’s been on my mind lately is church, so that’s where I’m going to start.
I haven’t been a churchgoer for many years, and I don’t plan on going back. But recently I’ve been missing aspects of it. I miss the social network that comes with church attendance. When my daughter was born 14 years ago the Methodist ladies made sure I didn’t have to cook a meal for two weeks. That’s the sort of thing I miss. And the music. I don’t have many opportunities to sing (besides in the car or the shower) any more, and I do love the magic that happens when a roomful of people raise their voices together. Most of my family of origin still adheres to the denomination I grew up in, the Assemblies of God Church, so by not attending or believing in its doctrine anymore, I feel a little like an outsider, which is a drag.
When it comes down to it, there’s still more about church that I don’t miss, so I won’t be changing my Sunday morning routine any time soon. I’m just finally able to recognize that I have a few empty spots in my life since I stopped going.