Ever see a cowboy dragging a saddle behind him? It doesn’t matter how well constructed the saddle is or how long the cowboy has owned it. It could have been in the family for years. Maybe it was his grandfather’s, then his father’s, until finally it was given to him. A saddle is a proud thing to own. Well crafted, hand tooled. I have nothing against saddles, but…

There’s no horse. Faith is like dragging a saddle. Old habits die hard because they’re familiar. And familiar feels right. That first Sunday you don’t go to church feels empty. I felt like I’d missed a step in the stairs and I was going to fall headlong. If you’ve ever noticed, people who have strong beliefs are afraid to let go of them. It’s been in the family for years. Their grandfather was a preacher, their dad a pastor, and they’re a Sunday school teacher. To leave this legacy is like spitting in the face of your heritage. It’s also how you define who you are. Sometimes you feel you’re not special anymore. I know this because I left this heritage myself.

To say I lost my faith is somewhat of a misunderstanding. I walked away. I walked away because I was going through the motions, which I could still do if I wanted. I could walk into church and still teach. No one would know the difference, but it wouldn’t be true. The horse isn’t there and I’d just be dragging a saddle around behind me.



  1. What a rough childhood. Belonging and community are the main reason for most people. I had that and I’m extremely thankful for that. It’s what I missed the most when I got divorced. I grew up in a small town, small church, but it was a good childhood. I hope you have a good sleep in this morning as I did and a stable life for the remainder. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Your metaphors are wonderful.

    The thing I think most people get from church is a sense of community – and leaving that behind feels empty (or they fear is that it would). When I have visited friends who take me along, it almost seemed worth doing for that reason alone. The warmth.

    I think the horses were in the chapel for those particular cowboys.

    I might as well have been a gypsy for most of my life, I have moved so many times — and we were not a church going family, so I never developed the habit. Five kids and a yearly move? I think my mother needed the sleep!

    I dimly recall Sunday School when I was quite small – but no details about it except that they gave you a 3-month pin for perfect attendance – like the Girl Scouts or something. For me, that pin represented belonging, and I dearly wanted one.

    The few times I can recall that we did attend a service at some Base Chapel or other were singularly uninspiring. The Protestant services tend to be non-denominational, so there’s not a whole lot they could say that included everyone: “God is good, and Jesus was his son – and now lets all rise and sing the first 50 verses of a 3-note hymn that sounds just like the one we will sing next.”

    We never lived on Base, so we never knew a soul but us – and getting everyone up and going in the AM was truly not a religious experience.

    With a strong pull toward metaphysics, I did attend Science of Mind lectures and classes when I “settled” in New York — but the morning thing is always my biggest stopper, since I don’t wake to sound and can rarely fall asleep before 4AM. Even the late morning services are iffy for me – especially in a car culture. At least in NYC I could grab a cab and didn’t have to be awake enough to drive.

    Somehow still, I am quite spiritual – and probably would attend a night service if they had them sometime other than Christmas Eve. So I read spiritual books – though I have always found the Bible itself incomprehensible.

    I firmly believe God makes no mistakes, so if I’m meant to be there it will happen.
    xx, mgh


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