Joy attendant

rain e free


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.

Hopeful joy.

Gracious joy.

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.



About allielousch

Engaged in everyday adventures and derring do.
This entry was posted in There is a lot I don't know and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Joy attendant

  1. heidi says:

    i woke up this morning, half dazed as usual. discovered i was where i fell asleep. didn’t mean to – but sharing half of a twin bed with a little girl who has inherited her mama’s ability to take up all the space on any surface she’s sleeping in makes a mama snap, crackle and pop when stretching. neck popped twice and i found myself wondering where you were, what you were doing and if i’d slept past time to get family of four ready to adventure toward our favorite place where we hide/sit in the back. our slacker row. wondering if i’d see you there. wondering if you were okay. wondering if you knew that everytime i drive past your neck of the woods i smile, look to see if your vehicle is there and say a quick prayer if it is or isn’t. discovered that as always, time had passed and 25 minutes is not enough time to get four people all snot nosed allergy suffering groggy minded coffee lacking shower needing to The Row. went outside and saw my red bird. smiled because i knew he was happy. makes me happy to see red bird singing to his friends and family. makes me wish i was a bird. wondered what kind of bird i’d be. wondered if i would find your hobbit hole and sing to you in the morning. decided i must need more coffee because i was imagining being a bird. wound up on the book of faces, hopped down the bunny trail of links and found this. smiled because after reading, i knew that not only would bird me find you, but you you would smile knowing bird me was guided by Someone to find you and sing to you. since i can’t sing, i just wrote this garbled mess of words which summed up means: i love you. just as you are. always have. always will.

    • allielousch says:

      Oh heidi ho. Your songbird love has me weeping and shaking. Thank you. I just read this after sending Madi onward and home. The smoke-fogged drive home intensified a not-desperate-but-still-wincing loneliness. And then this. Thank you.

  2. Seth Barnes says:

    Allie – if you are feeling empty or faithless, you are still so eloquent and accessible in the way you express it. I love reading the meditations you offer up. So many feel as you do. Mostly I felt like a stranger among the faithful this morning. After the closing prayer, it’s my custom to make a beeline for the exit.
    I ran across this blog on shame this week – may it lift your spirit:

    • allielousch says:

      I have read some of this blog before. Thank you, Seth. So much joy in this world. We must protect whatever stirs hope. Community, I think: family & friends & back again.

  3. Melinda says:

    I love you, friend. And this echoes in so many more ways than you know. In strange paths that crossed for such a small space of time before the directions life took us after, I’m grateful for your heart, and for the fierce and beautiful and raw and resting tigress pieces of it. I don’t know what I’m doing in my church most days, and tell myself I’m there to foster conversations to make it a safe place for the people I care about who can’t yet feel safe there, but I feel even that window closing. So… so I don’t know what happens when that closes all the way. They say doors close and windows open; when it’s the windows that close, maybe doors or rooftops or tunnels open. There are safe spaces, Allie. And you don’t seek them alone.

  4. Kaycie says:

    You went IN! And you are writing! Good stuff.

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