Thursday, February 10, 2005
I didn’t want to talk to anyone last night. Not friends, not lovers, not family. Not even the dog.
Earlier yesterday afternoon, I broke down right over this keyboard here and just sobbed. And I don’t really know why. Mood? No sun + cold + too much snow = Very Bad Mood. Circumstance? Maybe. It just came out, without any warning. Hard.
It’s tough for people around me to understand why this happens, especially when I can’t even explain it myself. It’s not like I was actively searching for something cathartic. It only lasted about two minutes and I didn’t really feel better afterward.
Maybe what I need is a spiritual re-centering. That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I seem to always be moving in one direction, spiritually, while many of the people I know are going completely opposite of that, if they’re going someplace at all. Often, I feel lost. I struggle with this sort of thing quite frequently – there are people close to me who seem to not even have a spiritual center. Not that I believe one is necessary in order to lead a fully satisfying life. But I’ve observed that these people seemingly appear empty on the outside. What’s on the inside, of course, is a whole different story.
So, yesterday, as was required of me, I went to church. In the past, Ash Wednesday has always meant something to me. There have been times while in church I’ve been almost paralyzed by sadness and hope at the same time. Last Easter, for example, I cried like a baby during the triumphant processional Jesus Christ is Risen Today, complete with full organ stops, antiphonal brass choir exchanging praises from balcony to altar, and a truly astonishing choir whose sounds echoed magnificently off the stone walls of the church. I guess I was hoping to be so moved again last night.
I sat on the organ bench during the imposition of the ashes wondering if I should go forward to receive them. From dust you came, to dust you shall return. Sometimes in church I feel like a foolish hypocrite. I question things. I doubt. I stay up till 4:30am debating St. Anselm and Pascal’s Wager. I elected to stay put, and as I watched everyone in the sanctuary form a line, I noted that they all looked a little bit like possessed disciples. Zombies, almost, with eyes glazed over, doing something only because it was expected of them.
Then came the sermon and I thought God came down and bonked me right on the head. Was the Pastor really looking at me the whole time? He talked about how people, during Lent, have a chance to really start over. He commented the most common item in a household next to or near the front door is a mirror. That’s so you can check to make sure before going out that your exterior is arranged and flawless. While your interior may be falling a part. I swear he was looking right at me.
Sure, I have guilt. I’m learning even still, more than a year after my life actually did fall apart, not to feel guilty for choices that I know were the right ones. The Pastor continued in his message, saying that when Jesus said ‘give up everything and follow me’, he really meant everything. In addition to your home, your money, your possessions, your time, he also meant your guilt. And your sorrow. And your burdens. When I think about it, this seems like an awful cop-out. This stuff is mine; I earned it – burdens, baggage, emotional scars and all. You mean to tell me I have to give them up to follow Jesus? Humans have a hard time letting go of things as it is, much less giving something up for someone else: C’mon, Jesus, I’ve decided my mother will never again make me feel like an irrational teenager when she whines about being too helpless to do anything super mundane like take out the trash. While we’re at it, here’s my crappy car with 200,000 miles on it, my unpaid school loans, the fight I had last week with my sister, and all the times I’ve unintentionally put my foot in my mouth and really bruised some feelings. Let’s go!
I feel like since all these things are mine, I should be able to handle them on my own and not bother or trouble anyone else with them. Who would want them anyway? (Apparently, Jesus does.) Perhaps it’s my stubborn nature.
I thought what I really wanted to say, when I first started writing, was that I was depressed yesterday and didn’t want to talk to anyone and that was that. I planned to mention how I came home from church last night, munched on some avocado on whole wheat, let the dog out, and read and finished the new David Sedaris book in 3 ½ hours before finally turning out the light at around 1:30am.
I guess I had more to say. The nice thing about not talking to anyone is that if you listen deeply enough, you’ll tell yourself exactly why it is you are upset. So, I’m upset because I’m off my spiritual pathway and going to church last night didn’t help. Or did it? While I may appear to some as having most of my stuff together, so to speak, there is a daily inner battle going on inside me. I’ve never aggressively tried to conceal what bothers me; I just don’t talk about it until I'm ready.
I also have never had a mirror near or next to the front door.