Sunday, March 23, 2014

First Day in Atlanta

Today was our first day in Atlanta. We started the day off with going to church at Ebenezer Baptist

Church. Truth be told I was a little unsure about going to church. I was cautiously optimistic that I would

enjoy it, but I was prepared to be unimpressed. I was raised Catholic my entire childhood and I lost my

faith about five years ago. I’ve been totally disenchanted with the Church and have often found their

teaching and practices unappealing to say the least. I was afraid that I would encounter another church

community that said they had open doors, but what they really had was closed minded judgment.

I can say with confidence and great happiness that I was wrong. I was totally blown away by what I

encountered at Ebenezer and for the first time I truly understood why the church and the faith was so

instrumental to Dr. King and his followers. What I found at that church were people who were truly

happy to see people of different walks of life. They welcomed me and my school with open arms and

happy faces. I have never felt so welcome in a church. It dawned on me while standing with the parish,

listening to this powerful choir lift up the congregation that it wasn’t necessarily about religious faith

(although that is what it is called). It is about a faith in humanity, a faith in your fellow brothers and

sisters. A spiritual faith that can only come from having a strong community of acceptance and love.

I have no faith in a higher power, in fact, I rarely have faith in humanity. But standing there with this

congregation, not as an outsider, but as a fellow member of humanity, I was moved. I felt the power

of people coming together run through me. I wish I had better words for what I felt today, but I don’t

think there are words for it. I felt connected, I felt empowered, and I felt accepted and welcomed. For

the first time I understood why Dr. King’s faith was so important. Without a community like that, I hardly

think the nonviolent civil rights movement would have gotten off the ground. There is strength in that

congregation and it’s a strength that cannot be overcome by injustice or cruelty.

I went into that church expecting absolutely nothing. I have been humbled. My eyes have been opened.

I see now what a community of acceptance and love can truly do…I have never truly seen that before.

I will take what I have experienced with me and draw from it as I move forward in my career and in

my life. I have been emboldened with a renewed faith in humanity and in what can be done when

people come together. I see cruelty and hatred so often that I forgot to look for the good and I allowed

myself to be overcome by it. I forgot that good like what I encountered at Ebenezer Baptist Church even

existed. I won’t let that happen again. As I read this blog I realize that it may sound clich├ęd and trite, but

to me it’s real and new. Even though I remain firm in my lack of faith, I may just go back to Ebenezer if I

get the chance. I have hardly ever been so moved and I’m excited to feel that again and to even inspire

that feeling in others.

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