I don’t really know what I was expecting when I arrived at Rushing Wind Biker Church. I spoke to Pastor Michael McGuire on the phone briefly before driving the hour and a half from Athens to Zanesville, and he seemed nice enough, insisting I was more than welcome to attend their Saturday service. But I underestimated just how welcomed I would be.
After spending a few hours chatting with some incredible characters like Bertha “Wild Thing” Glosser, Richard “Loco” Davis and Bubba Clam (he prefers I don’t use his real name), I followed them into the service portion of the night. The Rushing Wind Band, led by Michael, sounded incredible. I even sang along between scribbling notes and watching everyone around me laugh and hug and sometimes cry.
I had my nose buried in my notebook when Pastor Michael made his special announcement. In front of the entire congregation of about 100 people, he thanked me for attending their service and offered to have the women of Rushing Wind bless me that night. Unfortunately, my photographer, Ying, had already left for the night, so I was going into this alone; my face was beet red and I had a hard time looking up from my shoes. Unsure of what to say, I followed my instincts and accepted his offer. And I’m so glad I did.
I rose from my seat and walked up the aisle to the front of the room at the foot of the stage. Women of all ages began to circle around me. They held hands, put their arms around one another, and began to say prayers for me. I had an awkward, “I’m not sure what to do with my hands” feeling, so I folded them in front of my body, bowed my head, and let their prayers wash over me. I closed my eyes, and let myself succumb to their blessing; it was as if they were holding me up in praise, and I had complete faith they would not let me fall. The warmest sensation of love and compassion filled my heart while they prayed for me to do great things in life, and to grow into the amazing woman they knew one day I would become. I haven’t felt so loved and accepted in a long time.
When it was all over, I held back tears of thanks and appreciation. Each woman lined up to give me a hug, a final reassurance of my self-worth and importance. I left Rushing Wind Biker Church that night feeling confident, worthy and special; I think a lot of women my age struggle with these mindsets. It’s almost as if the women of Rushing Wind knew I was wrestling with loving myself and accepting my faults. With one blessing, they erased the self-doubt I’ve been fighting for so long. Although I was uncertain of what to expect when I first walked through those double doors, I left with increased confidence, faith in myself, and a spiritual experience I’ll always remember.