I sat down in my usual seat in the presbytery meeting – back row, just a few feet from the exit – and pulled out my knitting. The pastor from my local “big steeple church” plopped down in the chair next to me and leaned over, “Is there happy news to share?” I looked at him quizzically, baffled actually, “I don’t think so.” “Oh. Well, it’s just that so often when young women take up knitting it’s in anticipation of a little bundle of joy.” “Not in this case.” I smiled at him. “I just like knitting, that’s all.” I hadn’t the heart to inform him that I was in the process of creating pirate inspired argyle socks….for myself.

I miss presbytery meetings. Hours of knitting time punctuated by moderately significant debates taken far too seriously.  I always felt like an outcast and yet I was happy to be invited in.  The black sheep, strange Aunt Mildred who goes to those rallies and talks politics and the environment over Thanksgiving dinner.  It was a gift from the people who raised me to allow my far too liberal queer-in-hiding self into their midst.  I don’t miss much from the life I had when I was married, but presbytery meetings, those I miss.

I like to tell people that I was always UCC. “I actually debated jumping the Presbyterian ship long before I knew that I was a lesbian. I should’ve just done it. It makes so much sense for me to be in a place where exploration is encouraged. I belong here.”

It’s all true. I fit well in the UCC. When former colleagues threatened to take me to court for falling in love with the wrong person and following my heart, the UCC officially welcomed me with, “A loss for the PC(USA) is our gain!”

But the longer I am away the more I know that I am Presbyterian at my core. The stitches that knit me together are made of rules to be followed and debated, regular meetings, a place where you can’t avoid to voices you don’t like. The UCC patched together my broken soul, picked me up, dusted me off and gave me new purpose. Like the darning thread that holds together my much beloved Arrrrgyles, over time this new yarn may in fact become the entirety of the sock, but this original stitches can never be completely replaced.