Why I go to church
Marie Wilson was looking for contemporary spirituality to heal the wounds of her early church experiences
Marie Wilson has traveled extensively, but it is here, in the City of Trees, in the heart of Midtown at the Spiritual Life Center, that Wilson found the religious enlightenment she had long sought. Despite her shaky relationship with religion in the past, Wilson tells about her dive back into the waters of worship, and how her attitude went from dreading church to digging it.
Why Spiritual Life Center and not a traditional church?
To be honest, I was scarred by churchgoing experiences from my childhood years.
I was raised a Catholic, and when I was a young girl, my father committed suicide. Suicide is extremely frowned upon in the Catholic Church, and when my mother and I would attend after my father’s death, they would treat my mother horribly. They would act like it was her fault [that] my father committed suicide. I loved my mother so much, and to see her treated like that was heartbreaking.
It got to the point that my mom had to say, “That’s it. I’m not stepping a foot back in that church.” She would still encourage me to attend, but seeing that sort of negativity in a place that’s supposed to be sacred and inviting was a complete turnoff for me. That’s really where my desire to be religious kind of ceased.
Wow. What made you suddenly change your mind in the religion department?
I was a wellness coach about 10 years ago, living on and off between Sac and Arizona. I worked with a lot of people who were religious, and it sort of inspired me to seek some sort of religious enlightenment.
Because of my shaky past with church, I figured I would only attend every now and then. I talked to a few clients, and they suggested a few churches for me. Some of the churches were a bit … aged for me. I wanted something contemporary. That brought me to the Spiritual Life Center.
What did you expect the Spiritual Life Center to be like before you attended?
I expected something super religious. I expected it to be a service I would rarely go to.
And what did you really find?
Acceptance. They accept you no matter what your race, age, gender or sexuality is. They’re very friendly and inviting people, a blend of the contemporary atmosphere I sought along with the sacred and beautiful atmosphere I sought. There were a large number of attendees, and it was a mixture of enlightenment and fun.
What stood out to you most?
I used to be a travel journalist and would visit temples in Thailand and cathedrals in Europe. When visiting these places, I would see how sacred and serene their place of worship was. When you walked into these temples and cathedrals, you can feel the power of the souls that were praying there.
I wanted to experience that level of sacredness in prayer. I’m happy I finally found that. I felt it from the first day; it was very powerful.
Did you just join the Spiritual Life Center’s choir on a whim, or were you always a singer?
Nope, I’d never sung before a crowd in my life! I was sitting in church one day, and everyone was singing along to a song. I noticed that the woman behind me was singing really beautifully, and then I noticed that I was keeping in sync with her pretty well. I figured that must mean I sing well, too! That was one of the moments when I knew I was in a place where I belonged, I was so comfortable.