A few weeks before Christmas I drove past a cozy-looking Protestant church in my neighborhood. I noticed a colorful banner staked into the ground — “Perfect people not allowed!” it read — and I felt a yearning tug in my heart. It had been a tiring month, emotionally and physically, and the idea of walking into a church so cheerfully opposed to perfection seemed like just the ticket. I imagined padding in wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a sweatshirt. Soothing music would be playing. Perhaps someone would give me a mug of hot cocoa. I wouldn’t have to say anything, or do anything — just sit with all the other rumply, exhausted, not-perfect people and rest.
(I realize that people probably don’t often give you mugs of hot cocoa at Protestant church services, at least not until you’re done sitting in hard chairs and listening to the sermon. I also realize that what I’ve described above doesn’t approximate a church service of any kind, really, but more closely approaches going to a spa. But this is my fantasy, mmkay, so let’s go with it.)