The following is a guest post by Will O’Brien who currently resides in Rochester, New York but is originally from Saint Louis, Missouri. Will speaks to the way church, or any other religious community for that matter, can shape the people we become and the wisdom we recognize. So here’s Will on Growing up Church-ed…
The weirdest people seem to gather in the most dignified and “normal” places, and there is one community in my life that is like a Whitman’s Sampler of quirky.
My church community may seem normal but the people in it have contributed to the best abnormal education anyone could want. I was raised with 57 some odd sets of surrogate parents and grandparents and a bizarre array of sort-of older siblings, kind-of aunts and uncles, and crazy not-really cousins. Every week this world of weird gave me a safe space and plenty of inspiration to create my own unique identity.
Whether it is the couple who are both science teachers that show up every week in a different one of their many matching and bizarrely-themed Hawaiian shirts or the 84 year old man that loves to tell you about his most recent hand crocheted lace doyly, they all stop and say hi and truly care about you. This caring is passed through time and place to all corners of the earth through members of this odd little family that squabbles about whether or not Easter Brunch should be before or after the church service but always agrees to love and care for one another.
This dysfunctional second family has taught me not only to embrace the things that make me different but moreover that it is these very things that will help be a light to the world.