For some reason when I think of “church,” I imagine men in nice slacks, button-down shirts; women in dresses, buckled shoes, bonnets; a wash of pastels, all kneeling in pews, wishing they were anywhere else.

Now I didn’t exactly grow up going to church myself. I did, however, grow up watching the Simpsons—hence the perhaps exaggerated notion of what a church is supposed to look like.

So last Sunday morning, when I walked up to San Francisco’s Center for Spiritual Living, I was very pleasantly surprised. Now I say when I walked up to, as my experience of the place started before I even stepped through the front door—with a very charming gentleman strumming the guitar in greeting.

This was my kind of place.

Service began at 11 a.m., and does so every Sunday. As we waited for the last few minutes of meditation to wrap up—Sundays at 10:30—regulars from the group hugged and kissed and laughed and—and—it made me pine for something I didn’t even realize I was missing: a spiritual family here in San Francisco.
And then we filed in.

We filed in and sat down in chairs (not pews), and I took in my surroundings. This was no Simpsons’ church—the room was rather small, there were rows of folding chairs, all facing a raised stage area, topped with a wooden pulpit; and dotting the edges of the room, boxes, tarps, and tools, as the place is undergoing a bit of a makeover at the moment.

But that hardly mattered. Once Reverend Muata took the stage, I was so engaged I hardly noticed the chair I was sitting in, let alone a few boxes. See, it wasn’t just the building that was unique; the teachings were as well.

The Center for Spiritual Living is based around Science of Mind, or Religious Science—terms that were new to me; but concepts that I am well familiar with.

As it says on the SFCSL’s website,

Science of Mind is a philosophy that integrates spiritual truths with science and physics. Simply put, Science of Mind teaches the unity of all life. Intentions and ideas flow through a field of consciousness, which actually affects and creates the world around us. This idea is common to most major religions and is supported by the teachings of psychology and quantum physics. In Science of Mind, we believe that the secret to living a successful life is to consciously choose positive and productive thoughts. Put another way, ‘As you think, so you become.’

My entire life’s philosophy summed up neatly in one little paragraph. What the website can’t convey, though, is the sense of community, of acceptance, and of absolute love and comfort that you receive when you walk through the door (or, as I said before, when you simply walk up to the building, or even pass by along the sidewalk.) There was laughter, singing, and stories; people hugged, held hands, and danced. I felt no pressure, no judgment, and no need to have dressed up or down.

I guess what I’m getting at is this: If you are in the Bay Area and you’re looking for a Spiritual Family, I recommend trying out the Center for Spiritual Living. I know I’ll be back; I hope to see you there.

Namaste, everybody.