Monday, September 28, 2009

God Does Not Leave Us Comfortless

Do you believe that? The title, I mean.

The line comes from one of my favorite poems, from one of my favorite poets. It is a portion of the last line of Jane Kenyon's Let Evening Come, which I've read was written for a dying friend of hers.

God does not leave us comfortless, so let evening come.

I've been feeling strangely alone these past couple of weeks, and the searching I've been doing seems to be put on temporary hold until I can find my bearings again. Of course, this isn't what faith is for, is it?

Let the light of late afternoon shine through chinks in the barn, moving up the bales as the sun moves down.

If I was to tell someone I'd been feeling down, they might believe me, but they wouldn't have seen any sign. I keep going, full speed ahead, but what I want to do most is hunker down beneath the covers with a box of tissues and weep.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned in the tall grass. Let evening come.

I missed church yesterday (a mortal sin!) and last Sunday, felt as if I were merely wasting my time on a very uncomfortable surface. I had no sense of being in God's presence.

And yes, I know, God isn't the church, the building, the pews, the altar, but usually all of that adds together quite nicely and makes me able to focus on getting in touch with things I may have forgotten during the week.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den. Let the wind die down.

I wouldn't call myself depressed right now, because to me, a person with a lengthy mental health history, depressed carries a different heft than feeling mopey and removed. Perhaps it's hormonal, perhaps it's stress, perhaps it's mild depression (dysthymia), perhaps (most likely) it will pass and I'll be back to hallelujahs and hosannas in no time.

Let the shed go black inside. Let evening come.

God doesn't have any responsibility in making me feel better. I'm just struck by the sensation of loneliness, and the fear that there is nothing out there. Here I sit, a child of relative privilege, neurotransmitters all jumbled. Sometimes I feel silly in my sadness. Sometimes I believe it shouldn't be real.

Let it come, as it will, and don't be afraid.

I have to say my morning prayers. Haven't said them in days.

When I made my Communion, my Aunt gave me a small statue that showed a child standing, cradled a bit within a large hand. I long to feel this way, cradled and safe. And I know that, worldwide, others do too. And others deserve it way more than me, that sensation of safety and love, that sense of comfort.

God does not leave us comfortless, so let evening come.

I took a ride this morning after the girls were in school. At a red light, wind blew leaves down in a storm of brown, scattering across the street. Some made their way through the partly-opened passenger side window, coming to rest on the seat and my lap. I cannot tell you the feeling I had then, like, yes, here is something. Here is something for me. No matter how small I am, or how small I feel.


Portions of poem by Jane Kenyon, “Let Evening Come” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bible Study For the Socially Awkward

I was trying to do some research this morning, which is difficult considering both of my children are home with me today, and both are totally fine, which drives me crazy. Lil has a cold, but is bouncing off the walls and isn't the slightest bit lethargic. (Is it a sin wishing for a bit of lethargy?) Hannah is home early from school complaining of a sore neck, and apparently has a fever of 99.1, which, if you are a parent, you know is the tiniest of temps and if you actually called the pediatrician, you'd get laughed off the phone. And yes, I'm a hypochondriac and I know what 'stiff, sore neck' in children can mean, but when she's whining about not being able to eat Cheetos or walk to our neighborhood coffee shop, I'm calling bullshit.

So the research I'm trying to do is on Bible study groups, and I'm having zero luck. I checked my parish website, but they have a generic message with no actual calendar dates, and I checked the Presbyterian Church nearby and their calendar is from 2008. Which means I'd actually have to call, and seriously people, don't you know how much I despise using the phone? This is what the Internet is for! So insular, anxious, phobic, socially awkward people like me don't have to talk on the phone.

Why does an insular, anxious, phobic, socially awkward person like myself want to actually join a Bible study group? When there will probably be other people present? Why not just open the Bible and read it myself?

Because if I count on myself to do it, Bible-reading will fall into the same category as waxing my legs, organizing my closet, scrubbing the grout in the shower, or planning that yard sale. It'll be on that to-do list that pretty much is forgotten about. Sorry, God. I'm just trying to be honest here.

("Ah...why read Corinthians tonight? Ghost Hunters is on!"

"Revelations...Sookie Stackhouse. Revelations....Sookie Stackhouse."

"I could read Genesis...or I could watch my pretend Phillies boyfriend Carlos Ruiz from 7-10pm!")

I am easily distracted, which means I require homework. I require outside expectations. It is necessary for someone to tell me to read which sections and why, and what we'll discuss.

And then I'll do it.

But I was thinking, "'What if everyone annoys me?"

And then I thought, "What if I annoy everyone else?" After the meeting lets out, they'll all go to Denny's for coffee and discuss the weird, quiet chick who is clearly just looking for an excuse to get out of her damn house.

So you might be thinking, "Kel, why do you need to look outside the domestic bliss you are blessed to find yourself in order to keep in touch with God? Just look at the beautiful children you have. Surely proof of God's goodness. Let them serve as reminders."

And I'd be like, Yeah, sometimes they do remind me of God's goodness, but that's usually when they're asleep. Because, man, kids can be pure evil during the day, and they still manage to look all kinds of angelic when they're sprawled out in bed, their hair disheveled and their breathing calm and rhythmic.

So, during waking hours, I need an alternative.

Can I get an 'Amen?'

Monday, September 14, 2009

Inaugural Post

This template isn't working.

I like it. I really do. And I think it fits within the context of a blog about spirituality.

The lone tree, standing in a field of green, with a hill taking shape above it.

Still, I'm being all saucy with my title and URL. And this template is not saucy. And I'm not a web designer.

So my inaugural post on my new blog starts off not being about God at all. It's about trying to find a template that fits both my quest and my personality. Turns out that's challenging if you lack computer skills.

So what does the title mean, anyway?

I've always had a weird sort of attraction to the virgin martyrs, all of whom met gruesome deaths at very young ages after refusing to bow down to demands that they turn away from their faith. I first starting reading about them in my Grandmother's missal. We'd visit Grandma's house and I'd pick up that missal and start reading about St. Agnes or St. Cecilia or St. Lucy. I found it hard to fathom having that strong a faith at that young an age. (That their virginity is even important to their status as saints is odd, and despite my affinity for their stories, the feminist in me rebels at this classification.)

So my title is a play on that.

There also is the fact that I'm not a virgin. Haven't been one for some time now. I'm not a martyr, either. At least, not in the traditional sense of refusing to denounce God and instead worship the planets or whatever, and subsequently being tossed into an arena with wild beasts for my steadfastness.

But I am sometimes a martyr in that I feel bad for myself and do the woe is me crap and act like everyone is so totally working against me before I snap out of it and get on with things. It happens. I'm human. And a mother. We're good at that stuff!

And so yada yada, an experience led me to this place. I am a most imperfect Catholic. And for the most part, I am okay with that. I don't need perfection. I disagree with the Church on many an issue, and perhaps at some point I'll delve into that here. But there's a part of the Church that I love, and some of it is just my history, being born into it and eventually dying in it. But some of it is also that the Church stands for so many basic human rights issues. And that we have some damn good troublemakers who call this Church their home. Hopefully I'll write about them here, too.

And I believe in God. I believe that our charge here is to make the world a better place, somehow. I wanted to start this blog because I get so wrapped up in the minutiae of my own life that I frequently forget God. God becomes this faraway relative that leaves your mind until you look at the calendar and think, Oh shit, it's So-and-So's birthday! And so you scramble to the drugstore to get a card and send it, and it's not because you don't love them, or don't care about them. It's because you're busy and life is hectic and in all the hubbub, it's easy to forget what matters.

There is this song by The Innocence Mission that sums up the frustrating way I seem to approach faith, and in it, Karen Peris sings in her ethereal voice that God is like a ticket stub she finds inside a pocket, forgotten but not exactly discarded.

"I take the ticket half and put it on the table, saying, this is God and he's here through my comings and my goings. But I walk past the ticket half...just as I walk past the cross on my wall."

Seconds later, she sings, "Our self-indulgence grows so dazzling, we don't see you..."

Yeah. Pretty much.

But what I hope is that this blog helps change that. For me. I'm hoping you don't mind, and you come along for the ride.

I'm not a virgin. But I'm sometimes a martyr. And somehow, I'll get this place looking like I intend it to, however that may be.