Churches are ideal places of solace and peace. It does not matter what one believes or doesn’t believe. Churches are ideal for simply walking into a space of peace.
The inner urge towards truth, the desire for deeper connection with others, the angst experienced in the face of suffering, the pull towards a deep, tranquil reality; all these are at the core of many people. The content, tradition, rituals, concepts, etc. are of far less importance than the inner urge itself. What matters is that we each find a way to acknowledge our deep inner life and find ways to live it. That inner urge is what I call “spiritual”.
Years ago I chose the path of deep meditation. Certainly, I can say that it was partly the result of my studies in philosophy, and/or my childhood upbringing, and/or my fascination with psychology and mindbody techniques. But truly it all comes down to that inner sense of being embedded in a reality that is bigger than me. Moreover, it draws me towards it.
The eastern teachers describe the silent awareness behind our immediate thoughts, perceptions and feelings as being the deep Reality itself. So the act of meditation is that of allowing thoughts etc. to subside so as to reveal this always existing awareness. It is said to be the source of all existence. It is silent perfection, uncreated, unblemished, timeless, infinite. It just Is.
The experience of becoming quiet enough to simply be in this silence goes under various names. Some Buddhists call it Nirvana; Hindus call it Bliss; Daoists call it Wuji (void); Christians call it “peace that surpasses all understanding”. I say ‘some’ because there is disagreement about these definitions. But I love all these descriptions without being attached to any of them, since it is the experience itself that matters to me.
Whatever one calls it, it is the awareness of it that matters. When I am with people, I often feel it as a connecting point between us. So by all means, go into a church and listen to the silence. Find your own way to relate to it and most of all, notice the increasing sense of deep peace.