Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Good Friday

I went to church on this Good Friday. An improbable event, given that I am an atheist. So what brought me to a great hall of worship, with stadium-style A-lined pews and sermons steeped in the abstention of sin? The choir. I was invited by a colleague from a nearby university, with whom I recently finished collaborating on a research project, to hear her sing as second soprano in the first row. I love a good choir.

Regardless of my differing beliefs on religion, I really enjoyed it. The choir was lovely, at times giving me chills. But it was the people I enjoyed the most. As soon as I arrived, surreptitiously assuming a seat on the end of a back pew, I was offered the program that belonged to the person sitting next to me. And later, when the congregation began to join-in with singing, I was offered a hymn book, already turned to the correct page even (I didn't sing, but appreciate the offering, of course, and followed along).

It has been a couple of years since I was last in a church. And I forgot how people change in those environments; they can be at their worst, or at their very best... Or a little of both. As the Good Friday sermon carried on over the hour, punctuated by my colleague's beaming singing, I was treated to the best of people's humanity -- unselfish and genuine qualities exuded with the fuzzy goodness and warmth of apple pie and bed time stories. Being a Christian sure would be nice. But for at least one evening in a long while, it was enough to enjoy and observe such abundant kindness and recharge my atheistic idealism. It was a good Friday.

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