Ok, so now I have a good idea what people want to read. Romance stories. Or at least some romance in the hard knock stories. Well, this will be a great motivator to keep this love alive (aside from never being happier). There are moments when I feel like I’m losing my mind, though. For instance, I just left my pocketbook in church! I never do that! I’m all head-in-the-clouds, ga-ga, walking on air, can’t wipe the smile off my face, and I have to remind myself that the electric company doesn’t care. They want their bill paid. Down girl. Down.
So now, having retrieved said purse, I’m way behind in my day. While waiting for the woman who (luckily) picked up my bag, I ran into some friends who hadn’t yet heard I was leaving my job. They are retired professionals in health care and had had long prestigious careers here. I couldn’t stop myself from babbling on and on about the destruction of our system, how all my ideas for improving services have been ignored or sabotaged, how women are being discriminated against, and how I just couldn’t take it anymore. Ah, they are kindred spirits and had plenty of their own frustrations to add. I apologized for dumping on their sunny Sunday morning of bird watching. The osprey were out fishing and they had come to watch. Like everyone else, they asked what my plans were now. I explained, I honestly don’t know. I am not ready to retire. I love what I do and love the women I care for. I desperately want to advocate for women in our screwed up system, but am not sure yet how to go about it. I could just work to bring home a paycheck, and there might be some of that, but there is something bigger out there I’m supposed to be doing, and I need to figure out what it is. Until that becomes clear, I’ll keep plodding along, now with a bit of a spring in my step.
I feel like I’m all over the place. I want to write about how it came to be that my religion is so important to me. I want to write about falling in love. I want to say that straight vinegar is the best thing ever for washing windows. Why is that such a secret? I want to go running, clean out my car, pick all the dandelions and make wine. I want to work on the wedding plans (Not mine. Calm down everyone), plant fennel, plan the road trip. I feel like a puppy who can’t stop jumping. I need to run her. Take this girl out for exercise. Let her figure out which frisbee to go after.
When the kids were very young and complained about going to church, we explained that church was like seat belts. Not optional. There were lots of young children in the churches we attended, and it was a social event after the ritual. Kids had a community just like adults did. As they got into their teenage years, and the questioning got more complex, we had to agree that the dogma makes no sense in today’s context. We tried to put it in historical perspective, and agreed that there may (should) be a time in life to question all this. If you don’t, and just drink the cool aide, that’s a cult. The way I looked at it, was not that ours is the one true religion. It’s not. That’s absurd. I’m only Catholic because I was raised Catholic, not because it’s right. It’s familiar. My experience had been a mostly positive one. Growing up in an unhappy family it was a safe haven for me. The ritual was a comfort, predictable, soothing. I always wondered why people read so much into it and focused on the guilt. Maybe I was never listening. The rules seemed abstract and for historical interest only. At Sunday dinner growing up, my father would ask what the priest said in his homily. (He was exempt from the Sunday requirement and only went on Christmas and Easter). I remember thinking, “Why don’t you go and hear it for yourself?” though, to say that out loud would have been certain death. But I could never report what the priest said in his homily. That seemed the least important thing in the mass. (Actually, still does.) For me, it was all about the friendly people, the music, the mystery, the meditation. I felt like it was really Mary in that statue, always caring and kind.
When my oldest was making his confirmation, we had a priest here who was difficult, to say the least. We’d spend the whole ride home from mass telling the kids we didn’t agree with what he said today. They’d ask, “They why do we have to go?!” And we explained, priests are like teachers. You get some good ones and some bad ones, but you don’t stop going to school because you happen to get one you don’t like. It makes you think about your values but doesn’t mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater. Priests are human beings and we get along with some better than others, but the ritual doesn’t change. And the good thing is, their time here is limited. It did stimulate some good family discussions. Nothing like bonding over something(one) everyone mutually dislikes. But confirmation was hard that year. This priest made some ridiculous requirements for the kids and many of us parents were confused about how to deal with both sides of it. The parents would say to each other, “Why is he making this so difficult? It’s hard enough to get kids this age to even go to mass and now he’s asking them to write a letter to the bishop explaining why they should be confirmed? We all know it’s because we are making them, for God’s sake!”
I begged my son to comply. “Please just write something respectful. Please.” I did stop short of bribing (I’m pretty sure), but I did beg. I said, “Look. If someday, God forbid, you lose everything: your family, your home, your money, your self-respect. You will always have a community to go to. You will be part of that community, no matter where you are in the world. It will be familiar. And if you walk out of this house as an adult and never go back to church again, that will be your decision and I’ll respect it. But you’ll never have something to come back to if you don’t go through with this. Please.”
And he wrote the letter. And the bishop read it aloud at the mass.
Wow, I really am all over the place today. Going running.