After many stops and false starts; mascara that suddenly dribbled down my face, and a foot-dragging that would make any two-year-old proud, I finally made it to church…45 minutes into the conversation.
I felt compelled to go though each time I show, it is well into the service, I sit in the very left back corner, and I cannot bring myself to sing the songs of the faithful or take their communion. Perhaps I am drawn by weakness – only common to the breathing – for community. Perhaps it is the lingering of a lost love – a holy love – set apart, but now broken.
No longer do I claim to believe in the god of the Sunday songs, but I cannot seem to stay away from his house.
Though two churches are in cart-wheeling distance of my tiny home, it is one that is further up the road and close to the dam where I stealthily return. Returning, though, only as a prodigal recalls the table upon which his lifework was done so many years ago.
My friend, Steve, was talking this morning about shame and whether we are cloaked in it by another’s guilt or wear it by our own hands. Finally. Let’s talk about shame and judgement and guilt and assumptions and whatever hope we can scrape from the infirmary floor.
Today, I sat in a folding chair against the back wall – as far away from anyone as possible though there were seats enough in the earliest service for me to stretch out and read a book among most rows. Church people make me jumpy.
A mum with a fresh new baby walked her tiny one beside me while a spiky-headed toddler heroically climbed up and jumped off his seat before us. It was delightful and I breathed in the comfort extended to the baby and the joy of the leaping boy while Steve spoke about Jesus and his honest love of outcasts.
Soon, I slipped from the sanctuary as the broken communion bread was given. I am not among the partakers of what I still value to be holy.
Only 20 minutes of church and I had to sit in my car while the rain played the roof as a piano. Only 20 minutes of that loving community and I had to escape and finally breathe in and weep out.
I took the long way home past the lowing cows and the Wall Street Journal at Starbucks.
The first greens of spring are beginning to show on the prairie as the whipping wind has drawn the sap forward and the rains satisfied the soil’s thirst.
A few short days shy of one year since I fled. Battered in spirit and felled by a great insidious lie.
The Cypress Sundays found me sneaking into St. John’s Lutheran Church after writing blogs for a faraway community via Starbucks’ free wifi. Starbucks where I made a new friend and hid from the world in such great pain – both of us – the world and I in unanswerable pain.
The season has changed now as it does when anyone comes face-to-face with grief. I never thought I could make it.
I never expected my faith – which had long filled me with hope in death, abandonment, financial uncertainty, ruin, and single-momhood – to extinguish. It is a death that has me mourning.
And afraid of forgetting what was a joy attendant to believing.
Joy made most fertile by an imperfect gratitude and love of the Unseen.
I admire-value-respect (is there one word for that?) people who have not given up on faith though their reasons seem legion.
I despise those who – like Job’s wife – cajole and urge me to “curse god and die.”
My best friends love me and are gentle in their reminders to remember that love that once gave me life in many mucked up days.
Though you may find me sitting in a quiet parking lot while the rain plays on the distance between my car and the church door, I am still searching for the North Star.
Much honest imperfect love, Friends.