I have always been envious of people who bought in to the whole religion thing. Even as a child, I struggled with the idea of a god. I couldn’t fathom why any god would allow such horrid things to happen all over the world, every second of every day, without pause. And I thought if there was and he supported that, then well, fuck that guy too. It just wasn’t meant to be for me. Science, I understood, but a girl who was into science in the late 80’e early 90’s in the Midwest? It only contributed to the plethora of reasons I was a weird kid, and I lacked the confidence to pursue it further.
Sure, an unconditional trust and belief in something bigger than myself to throw some baggage on sounds pretty freeing. It doesn’t sound logical, but I understand the attraction. I am trying to be more responsible for myself and increase my self-awareness. I am trying to actively deal with my shit and be a better, happier person. Not taking accountability for my actions seems counter-intuitive to me. But maybe I’m just not getting it.
What I have always been fascinated by and attracted to was the excitement and tradition of church. People get dressed up, they are nice to each other, they eat, they laugh, they sing, they dance, some fuck. It is amazing. They are releasing stress and increasing oxytocin and getting exercise. It’s an incredibly healthy activity, physiologically. It has even been shown going to church could improve symptoms of depression. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Being surrounded by love, support and community? That is science, not a wizard banishing mental illnesses from the premises.
Our relationship thrives under clear rules, establishing traditions and communication, so the idea of implementing church was exciting. It was something we discussed extensively and each voiced in great detail what we might want out of a hypothetical church-like experience.
If not born into it through no choice of their own, typically, people choose their religion based on their core values. Then attend a church, accordingly, that fills those fundamental needs. The common themes in the majority of religions are pretty simple – be cool to each other, don’t be a dick, don’t lie, love is important, and support the people you care about. We are down for all of that. It is the guilt, shame and killing in the name of nothing more than an idea that we draw the line at. Hard pass, thanks.
If you could dedicate two hours once a week to worship and revel in what means the most to you and makes you feel whole, healthy and alive, what would it look like?
After a lot of self-reflection we came to a mutual agreement that painted our ideal church experience. A delicious recipe of our core values, desires and love, with some pretty basic traditions we wanted to implement.
One of my favorite elements of our church is the ritual. It is something I always look forward to. No matter how much bullshit the simulation tossed at us throughout the week, there is the beacon of church promised on Saturday. It is the day I dedicate to self care and reflection. I pamper myself with a long, luxurious bath to get myself in a positive, sexy head-space. I spend the day focusing on balance and practicing mindfulness. We dress up and make efforts to look and feel our best, because it is important to us and deeply personal.
The theory that confessing your sins relieves you of them is closer to the truth than I ever realized. Talking about things that are hard for you to process, thoughts or behaviors you feel guilty about, or just general problems you are having and being met with kindness, empathy and compassion can be a powerfully healing experience. Where this differs from many major religions is there are no punishments, shaming or scolding following the confession.
If there is shaming, it is consensual.
We use this space to talk about what is really on our minds, underneath the day-to-day minutia. What made us feel loved this week? What could we have improved? Is there something we need more/less of? We use this as a dedicated check-in time every week. It is also a space where we share any new sexual desires or fantasies that have been tickling our imagination lately. It is a re-connection after a week full of work and kids and people-ing. We use these two hours to worship us, no outside bullshit allowed. There is never a discussion about the kids, work, politics, or news. It is our sacred space.
Prayer is simply an action taken to develop a bond with an object of worship. We chose to translate this into a specific physical activity that allows us both to enter a space that is only for us. It is an intense bonding experience that always leaves me feeling lighter of burden, cleansed of my worries where I am not only able, but encouraged and required to bask in the moment and feel everything that I am currently feeling.
Intimacy with my partner is the closest thing to spiritual that I have experienced. It is a release and comfort that is immeasurable. We follow up with closeness and reassurance and whatever aftercare may be required after prayer. I like to think of the aftercare as the Amen portion of church. It’s an essential closure of the ceremony that helps bridge the euphoric release of endorphins with the present moment. It is regaining balance and centering.
After church, we continue our evening refreshed, revived and sated. Ready for the night and week to come.
I fucking love Saturdays.
Read part two here!
Nikki is a photographer, writer, and general creator of things. She writes about mental health, sex, and relationships.