Easter 2010 marked two firsts in my life: I felt my first earthquake and attended my first “mega” church – and was left a bit rattled by both events.
Let’s talk earthquakes first, in the interest of keeping the religious content on this blog to a minimum. I’ve been in San Diego for six months, during which time we’ve supposedly had a handful of earthquakes. I hadn’t felt any of them until last Sunday. My boyfriend, Chris, and I were in Shelter Island looking for a place to enjoy a Mai Tai (because what says sacred holiday better than a fruity cocktail?). As it turns out, I didn’t need any alcohol to feel light-headed.
It came on fast – I felt dizzy and grabbed Chris by the arm. That didn’t help; he was dizzy as well. We looked at the parked cars and saw them rocking back and forth. And then, we literally felt the earth rolling, like a wave. I may or may not have panicked, screaming “What do we do? Do we need to go somewhere?” In my defense, it was a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. I know I’m the newbie from New York, but that’s pretty significant.
Perhaps more significant, however, was the other earth-moving experience I had that day. Earlier that afternoon Chris and I attended services at the Eastlake Church in Chula Vista. When he said he wanted to check out “one of these California mega-churches” I really had no idea what he was talking about. There was nothing mega about any of the churches I’d ever attended, and sadly, my only point of reference was the non-denominational Christian church I’d seen on a recent episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County (stop judging me).
I could write pages about Eastlake Church, so I’ll try to be brief. This church has a campus. That’s right – a two-level campus comprising a Kohl’s department store, a Krispy Kreme Donuts, a school, a courtyard where fresh coffee is served (coffee you can bring into the service, mind you) and the church itself – an amphitheatre/auditorium with a stage. Once we were seated, a Christian rock band started playing. Music videos were displayed in the background, children and adults were dancing in their seats, and I felt I had entered an alternate universe. Where were the ceremonial robes, the organ player, and the altar boys? My grandmother would not approve.
Then, the head pastor came out, wearing jeans. He cracked jokes – funny ones – and spoke in words I actually understood. And here’s the thing: I’ve had the pastor’s words in the back of my head all week. I’ve been singing the catchy rock songs. In the spirit of open-mindedness, I may even go back this Sunday.
As I was writing this, we had an aftershock and my computer started shaking back and forth. I received a news alert that the quake had a magnitude of 5.3. It’s only fitting; this whole relocation thing has been a rather moving experience.