The church was, as I hoped it would be, beautiful. The towering sanctuary and the angelic sounds of the music conveyed exactly the right emotion. The incredibly touching and beautiful finale, in darkness, and to the entire congregation singing Silent Night; where each person turns to light the candle of the person beside them will remain in my memory as long as I have one.
As one can imagine though, it can be hard to feel comfortable as a Gay Man in a Church, even one as famously inclusive as Riverside. You just never know really. So it was during an earlier carol that a far less choreographed moment sold me on visiting there again. The gay couple I was sitting beside- not planned- softly and tenderly, held hands while singing together. Right there in row 333.
I was probably the only one who noticed. But I was definitely the one who needed to. For the possibility of visiting that church again; for the feeling of inspiration it brought in me, and for that fact that it illustrated for a sometimes doubting mind that God's love and plan is present in us all.
Inspired by this night I will return to the pews at Riverside. And I will have but one new years resolution in the coming year: to be the shining light on the hill. Whether that means by holding the hand of the man I will someday love no matter where I may be; by being as good a man to my family; friends, co-workers; and strangers as possible; or by simply being the man I was put on this earth to be. And in that effort, I am yet again faced with the fact that all things happen for a reason; that there is forever beauty and glory where we choose to see it; and that a church may just be someplace for me to be more often.
An early Merry Christmas to you all.
Riverside Church and Grant's Tomb- Fall 2010 from the Hudson River