The privacy of faith
Today was busy. I played matins this morning and then joined the choir for mass. With this weekend being our Well Dressing festival I was then involved in serving ploughman’s lunches and cream teas to holiday makers and locals. Afterwards, with my husband and parents in law looking after my little boy, I went back to church in the late afternoon sunshine to play evensong.
I took someone with me who on occasion joins me for mass or special services. She’d never been to evensong before and it is a real contrast to the high ceremony of the morning services. A quiet and reflective service, this evening it was presided over by our curate whose smooth, educated tones stilled our racing minds and brought us into an altogether more introspective place. It is, I suppose, a solemn sort of service and one that is now rare. With ever increasing demands on the time of clergy we are one of the few churches in the diocese that continues to offer it.
The person who joined me tonight is not someone who has outwardly confessed the faith and I have to admit to some surprise each time she takes up my offer of attending. Surprise and a deep satisfaction and growing excitement as she appears to be brought ever closer to Our Lord’s loving family on earth. I haven’t yet asked her about how she feels and why she attends. Sometimes I think it is in solidarity with me – a jobbing church musician who sometimes feels under-appreciated. But the more time passes the more I wonder whether she is nursing a new and very private faith.
I know how fragile the blossoming of faith can make one feel. It can be as though one is being opened up and laid bare – as though everyone around can see just how vulnerable you have been made by drawing close to the Lord. It reminds me a little of adolescence, when one thinks that everyone can see in hugely magnified detail all the changing aspects of one’s body and awareness of the world. In reality of course, no one really notices much at all initially. Growth is gradual and goes mostly unnoticed.
There have been times – there still are – when I feel embarrassed to admit to my faith. I will never deny that I am a Christian and will happily share the fact, but faith – that intimate relationship with God – is private and sometimes I feel bashful about it. Had someone probed too deeply in the early days of that belief I wonder if it would have made me back off, too embarrassed at how I felt to continue down the path.
For now I will tread softly with my friend and pray that I will be guided as to the right time to ask questions and help her explore things a little more deeply. And I will rejoice that, whatever else I may have done in my life, I have at least been a light on the path for someone.