I can’t recall exactly, but it has been almost 6 years when I declared myself to be an Agnostic.

Last night, after several weeks of begging, Dunhill and I finally made it to church. (Yes, folks, people like me don’t flare up upon entering holy places. Although I was anticipating it a little bit.)

I was late. As usual. But I knew it was okay with God. So I got in right after the communion and smack in the middle of Worship time (this is the part where the church sings.)

Now I used to be really, really active in church: to the point even of going to missions and evangelizing. I have preached a few sermons too, which is an achievement considering I was just starting University.

I’m quite sure it was disillusionment that caused me to renounce my church several years ago, much to my mother’s dismay. But I can say that I’ve maintained a sense of spirituality (self-defined, of course) which ironically, has led me to the events of last night.

Anyhoo, while listening to the band (having a band at church was unheard of in the congregation I used to belong to since all worship should be done a capella and without the aid of any man-made instrument) I had goosebumps. It was probably due to the awkwardness of the situation and the fact that there was a devotee standing right in front of me, arms outstretched and in the verge of a trance.

This desire to come to church actually began almost a month ago. I woke up at around 5AM one Saturday and cleaned house. I just felt an overwhelming desire to listen. It was like the Universe was trying to tell me something and I felt that I would hear it in church.

I know how incredibly fanatical that sounds… trust me.

It so happened that I was playing a record from Incubus as I was cleaning house and then it went…

“Remember that we’ll always have each other, when everything else is gone…”

That’s Brandon Boyd wailing the lyrics to “Dig” which I felt was the message that the Universe was trying to send me at that specific moment in time.

I responded with a well of tears… of course.

Flash forward to a month later, it is Saturday and due to some last minute cancellation, I end up in Starbucks with Dunhill. By this time, we had both agreed that I will attend church. If you know me, you know that I panic over things that I have absolutely no control over. I am a closet basketcase. So it was very important for me to set ground rules with Dunhill, in case something goes awry with my little reunion with God.

I had already told him how long it was since I last went to church and that I take this attendance really, really seriously, to the point that I KNEW, that there would definitely be tears.

Dunhill has never seen me emotional in person. He would just hear me cry over the phone. And I wasn’t quite sure how he’d feel about it, since a lot of people get alienated when other people get affected by that to their face (case in point, outstretched-arms-semi-trance girl from par.6).

So I told him strictly that it was going to be a very personal service for me and I wouldn’t mind if he pretended he wasn’t with me at all.

So the band was singing, the girl was almost going to pass out, and I find my goosebumped self in the verge of crying too. Then this guy comes up the stage and begins to read this passage…

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways
and loving toward all He has made

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.”

-Psalm 145:17,18

And my tear ducts turned to geysers and I was trying so hard to keep my head still so no one from behind me (including Dunhill) would notice that I was exhibiting emotions outwardly. I was biting my lip, pinning my hands and stopping my nose from twitching or sniffing, and the tears just rolled and rolled down my face, up my nose, down my neck.

Oh… it was horrible…

And fabulous.

Then without giving me time to recuperate, the Worship part ended and everyone sat down. I didn’t have a seat since I was late so everyone turned around to look for theirs and set themselves ready and I was standing there, blotched face and tear streams and all.

And at that point I wished that God knew SMS, because he really didn’t need to send me the Universe’s message like this.

So I grabbed Dunhill and told him that he had to take me to the bathroom quick because I was unravelling. And he probably felt odd about the whole situation because he just pointed me to the thing and left me to go by myself.

I sat through the sermon, which, I’m sorry pastor, I didn’t care for very much. And then the whole thing ended. I was a little disappointed that Dunhill didn’t do a post-game analysis with me, because he just sent me out into the world right after what was virtually a life-changing experience.

Since I didn’t bring my smokes (in fear that the church would smite me) I went to a convenience store and bought a pack and smoked the whole thing off. I was walking down the road to what I thought would be a coffee shop but I ended up on the wrong street which happens to be where the red light district is. It was dank and smelly and reeked of, well, sin. And I struggled if I felt alienated or at home in that row of blinking lights.

Then the raindrops started falling and it was beginning to be a tropical rainshower so I hop on the next jeepney to get to the mall where I was going to have dinner. But since there was a flash flood (in under 10 minutes!) the driver decided to go around the regular route away from the mall and I had to get off at a stop which was several blocks away.

So I was stuck in that little store for a good hour, and there’s only so much you can do in such a small space, in such a long time, so I grab a TIME from the magazine stand and browse a little. After what seemed like a half hour, the security guard comes up to me in a very audible whisper…

“Boss, bawal magbasa dito.” (Boss, reading is not allowed here.)

And it hit me right now. It was another message.

I was seriously contemplating whether I would attend church again. Then I thought it over and over and over, till now, when I started writing this. And it dawned on me, I left the church and became agnostic because I read too much into what other people had to say about my relationship with God, a relationship I have learned to redefine for myself.

I was reading into what other people thought of me, and what they would think of me and how I want to live my life.

As I extricated myself from the convenience store after being embarassed by the guard, I stood under an awning for a while, trying to keep the rain and flood water from my shoes.

The Universe is sending me a message.

This is the part where you listen.

Reading is not allowed here.