Ballard Seventh-Day Adventist Church
(Hawaiian Odysseus photos)
My wife and daughter wanted to go thrift store shopping this afternoon, so yours truly--big on two of the three most significant women in my life (with Mom completing the female trinity), but certainly NOT big on shopping--asked to be dropped off at the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library.
As I walked a few blocks eastward along 22nd Avenue NW, I couldn't help but fondly reminisce about the dozens of times I had walked this very route after catching a bus from downtown Seattle to the historical Scandinavian town now turned Yuppieville.
Friday afternoon. 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Google thermometer, but feeling more like 80 as the sun, unimpeded by the usual marine clouds as it bathed in a naked azure sky, bounces off the pavement and a liberal scattering of bricked sidewalks, close kissing cousins to their concrete counterparts.
And I'm on my way to church.
A day early, since I'm Seventh-Day Adventist. But also seven months too late.
Because the beautiful, vintage, and historical red-brick church formally went to sleep on December 31, 2010.
Not knowing for certain if and when I'd ever be back this way, I had to pay my respectful tribute to this wonderful, old-fashioned yet--in its waning years--homey retreat for weary and wayward souls (of whom, to borrow Paul's words, I am chief).
I attended the Ballard SDA Church from 2007 - 2010, and I honestly enjoyed every Sabbath I spent there. The sermons were average--sometimes, I wish that there had been more spiritual meat and oomph to them, but they were, overall, effective and traditional deliveries of the Word.
It was the people that I loved about this church. It was how a very small population of, oh, twenty loving souls, one-third of which were members of a warm and friendly Samoan family with the other two-thirds comprised of middle-aged and senior citizens, banded together each Saturday to have the dearest times of worship and fellowship.
If you're somewhat familiar with church organization, both the macro and the micro of it, you know what I'm talking about when I say that I resent how politics--yes, it exists even and especially in a spiritual organization--can drag a good church down.
I am very outspoken about how I don't like the hypocritical politics and nepotism present at the uppity conference level of the church. To me, every organized church has its own version of the Vatican. Metaphorically, I am referring to that point where politics overtake spiritual revival.
The same evil that existed when Christ cleaned up the temple still exists today, except it is more subtle while being more prevalent.
Oh, I could go on and on. But I think you get my drift.
The old Ballard SDA Church was a respite for me.
A virtual oasis in a desert of contemporary apostasy.
I also appreciated how the church board refused to be formally sucked up into the conference's black hole. It was refreshing to see how the elder, deacons, and female church leader maintained the church's independent structure for the longest time. Secretly, it fed my poorly-cloaked anti-authority proclivity.
And, oh, how I loved the congregation.
When you attend a small church, you get to know and become better acquainted with most, if not all, of the members.
For circumstantial and personal reasons, I liked sitting in the rear left of the church. I liked being with everyone while still reveling in my thoughts about the week's events, spinning my own mini-sermons, singing as soft or as loud as I wanted to at any given moment, and--shame on me--closing my eyes whenever I needed to. I won't use sleep apnea for an excuse. I was just really comfortable and at home in my pew.
Every now and then, I was asked to sing for special music. It was delightful to get up front and have my nervousness ebb away as I'd look at the spectacular images and colors of the upstairs balcony's stained glass windows.
But any thought of being on the inside of this beautiful church and marveling at the sun dancing on those stained glass windows was quickly squelched.
I dared not even climb the few concrete steps that led to the front doors. To do so would have been futile. More so, it would have been a desecration of all that was memorable and reverent about this church.
So I found consolation in taking three photographs of this grand institution.
Then, finally, I walked away and closed yet another chapter in the saga of Hawaiian Odysseus.