A Church Like No Place Else

Caryn Rivadeneira

These are the holiest places I know: the Eagle Trail, in Peninsula State Park, Ephraim, Wisconsin; the woods that wind around a creek near my house; our town's public library, the Art Institute of Chicago.

I've been so overwhelmed by the presence of God in these places that I've nearly fallen to my knees, kissed the holy ground in each of them. Mostly, I offer a mental genuflect or lift my arms away from my sides, turn my palms toward heaven and think thanks to the God of woods and water and books and paintings. Of the God who offers us is creation and who lets us create alongside him.

Which is why I often get dizzy with the Spirit while sitting at my laptop cranking out an article or a chapter or a proposal. I hear God when laughing with colleagues, when brainstorming ideas. Work is worship for me. Always has been. Lord-willing, always will be.

I tell you this because when I read Donald Miller's recent piece I Don't Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere, though I could hear the backlash a-comin' for him, I got it. I knew exactly what he meant: that he worships best through work, that he connects to God in nature.

And yet, I'm super pro-church. Pro-"Every Sunday Butt in Pews" Church. Pro-"Sing Beside Folks Who've Hurt You And Are Hurting" Church. Partly because Jesus made collective worship his "custom," as our pastor recently reminded us. Partly because although my bones may not feel like going to church many Sundays, church offers something nowhere else can: not the woods, not the library, not the sheer cliffs on the trail above Nicolet Bay, not even the Art Institute. A Sunday morning ...

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