My church… standing in the light. (But I’m not)


If my posts seemed slightly disjointed this last week, it’s because I was on the road — driving up to New York to pick up my daughter Lulu from her first year in college and bringing her back to Atlanta for the summer. I thought when she came back home, I’d be so happy. But as it turns out, it’s made me really sad. Because I know she’ll be leaving again and I don’t want to get used to her being home if she’s only going to go away again.

Why can’t I just live in the moment and accept things as they are? Maybe it’s because I’m contrary by nature.

Whenever I’m caught in traffic, I’m incensed – not so much because of the traffic, but because I never want to be going the way everybody else is. I don’t even know the meaning of going with the flow.

So today I’m grateful that I’m not Buddhist, since I’m so bad at acceptance.  Catholics kind of like to wallow — and Irish Catholics make a career out of it. So … here’s to being Catholic!  (I feel better already…)

Yes, I am a Catholic. A practicing Catholic. And I am therefore supposed to (required to) go to church every Sunday.

I am also (super old school here) supposed to tithe, i.e. give 10% of my income to the church. However, since I have a very modest (okay, pathetic) income and basically live off my husband, I’m just going to pretend, for the purposes of giving myself one day a week off from this blog, that I’m making a reasonable income and go from there. So every Sunday – all year long –I’m going to be giving $100 to Our Lady of Lourdes my amazing, adorable church in the heart of the Martin Luther King Jr. Landmark district in Atlanta.

Our Lady of Lourdes was founded in 1912 as an African-American Catholic community, financed by Mother Katharine Drexel – a rich Main Line, Philadelphia heiress who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and donated her fortune to serve Native American and Black people. From the steps of OLOL (no relation to LOL, kids) you can see Ebenezer Baptist Church (where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his father, grandfather, and brother all preached); and the neighborhood infuses the church’s soul.

I love OLOL so much, it’s ridiculous. It’s small, it’s mighty, it has awesome music (thanks to our Minister of Music and chair of Spelman College’s Department of Music, Dr. Kevin Johnson), and it’s got Father John Adamski – our tall, thin, challenging, intellectual, lovely priest… not to mention our affable, groovy deacon, Chester Griffin (whose beautiful wife Janis also leads the choir).  I’m not sure if you know many Catholics, but I can tell you for sure, we’re not the monolithic, homogenized, “jump to the Pope’s every proclamation” pack of lemmings that you may think. I, for one, believe that the church’s stance on birth control is socially irresponsible, morally insupportable, and just plain nuts.  But I also think the church’s position on poverty, social responsibility, gun control, the death penalty, immigration, health care, equality, civil rights, justice, peace, and charity is truly inspired.

For these reasons – and for the reasons I’ll add every Sunday that I go to church and am freshly inspired (or spiritually challenged), I’m making this my weekly tithe. And if you can find a church you love even half as much as I love Lourdes, you’ll feel blessed to support it, too. I promise.