When I left the church I was raised in 7 years ago, I made it clear to relatives that I wouldn't return "unless someone got married or died", and I've held to that. Recently though, I've had quite a few deaths in my life and subsequently, have been back to a few services. It's been strangely and eerily familiar. The same God, the same Savior, the same book of guidance...but the sights...the sounds. The Black church is so much more restricted in dress and so much less in acquaintance and behavior. I've been gone so long I knew no songs but the most traditional of hymns. I saw faces that were so big a part of my existence they seemed almost ancient. I still don't really know what to think of my feelings upon returning. I don't think I allow myself to make any full emotional judgments...leaving was just too big a deal.
A friend once asked me how I can still attend church knowing all too well the weight of being Black in a predominately White, Christian environment. I told her that I simply don't think I could ever be let down like I was as a child, coming to the full realization of what the safe and welcoming church of my childhood had become. The evisceration of that body marks a loss of innocence that defined more of my life than I think I'll ever realize.