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Recently I was in Chicago for a speaking gig.
Since the event didn’t start until late in the day, I decided to do what I always do when I have travel downtime: I started researching churches to visit.
I rarely attend services but I’m obsessed with the space and energy of cathedrals and monasteries.
The grander the better.
All of it.
And so – after looking up the most magnificent cathedral in all of downtown – I hopped into a cab prepared to be amazed.
Unfortunately, the moment I arrived at the sanctuary I was greeted by a burly security guard.
“Sorry ma’am. We’re closed for a funeral.”
Sensing my disappointment, however, the guard told me there was a makeshift altar set up in the basement that I could visit “if I wanted to.”
After entering a completely separate building and traveling down a narrow flight of dimly-lit stairs, I was – indeed – in a basement.
No glorious stone archways.
No glowing windows.
Just a bunch of cold metal chairs and a dirty tile floor.
As I was about to leave, I was stopped by an inner voice that spoke very loud and very clear.
“This is my church.”
And, just like that, I was busted.
Busted for assuming that I knew what “church” was supposed to be – and busted for attempting to leave when I didn’t get my wish.
As I awkwardly stepped back into the room and sat down, I began to think of all the ways we miss what A Course in Miracles calls the “content” of what’s best for us because we don’t approve of the “form” that delivers it.
I thought of how we get hooked into the specifics of what we think we need and end up blocking access to something far greater than we could have envisioned.
Not because it isn’t there.
But because we don’t see it.
As a student of spirituality one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that the strength of our wisdom often parallels the strength of our capacity to distinguish between form and content.
Form takes on an infinite number of shapes.
Comparisons and expectations.
Rituals and rules.
Content, on the other hand, has only one shape: Connection.
Connection to self.
Connection to source.
And connection to each other.
Accordingly, while form will always fluctuate and decay, content is eternal because connection is eternal.
To find it, all we have to do is look with kindness.
And know that this is church.