I took my pentacle off as it no longer felt “right”. It felt very strange not to have it round my neck after over two years of wearing it constantly – eating, bathing, sleeping in it, never taking it off. And yet I felt I was doing the right thing. I posted to my LJ about it and then went to bed.
A friend came round the next day, and brought with him a little cross he’d hand-painted – black, with an almost-Celtic design in silver, which he strung on a thin black ribbon and gave to me, having noticed how ill at ease I seemed without something round my neck. I’ve been wore it constantly afterwards until the varnish wore through at the edges; then I found a little amethyst cross my mother had given me during my “Catholic” phase, and I’ve been wearing that ever since.
That weekend was the London Open House weekend, and St.Mary’s Church, which is just around the corner from my house, was one of the properties taking part so onthe Sunday afternoon, I popped my baby daughter in her pushchair and together with my housemate L went to visit.
The moment I stepped into the church I just had this feeling of rightness and welcome. L and I quietly looked round the church, and I took a few photos (which are up on my Flickr account), and then I had a chat with one of the stewards – a friendly lady named Jackie (her son was doing the tours of the tower). I explained about my issues with faith over the past 20 years, and she was very sympathetic and assured me that St. Mary’s is a very welcoming church. She gave me a few leaflets and suggested I come along to their mother-and-baby group.
Apparently St. Mary’s will be starting an Alpha course in October, but in the meantime she and her husband will be starting an “Enquirers to faith and new Christians” group on Wednesday nights soon which sounds promising; and there’s going to be a special service on Sunday 30th September for “Back to Church Sunday” at which all will be welcome – all of which sounds just right for someone tentatively taking their first steps back.
Everyone was very friendly and welcoming; after I did the tour of the tower (L stayed downstairs with the baby), I got talking to one of the gentlemen who is part of a bell-ringing team in West Ham that come to St.Mary’s to ring the bells for events (there aren’t enough people at St.Mary’s to form a full bell-ringing team), and it turned out that he used to work for the foundry in Whitechapel that cast the Liberty Bell. He currently works as a train driver for the Jubiliee Line on London Underground – but used to be a District Line driver. I used to be a line controller for the District Line until a couple of years ago – I really wasn’t expecting to find someone to talk “shop” with in church! It was one more thing to help make me feel welcome. 🙂
The church itself is a beautiful place; the very stones themselves feel welcoming and friendly. I consider myself very lucky to live so close to the church – it’s literally just around the corner.