Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The weekend, and a lot of babbling.

When we left our hero, she was about to go find a local church, therein to kneel and pray and in general try to come to terms with my baptism and confirmation. With my belief, or lack of same, or unsureness about it, or...whatever state I'm in, which I'm not sure about. To pray for what I need to become who I need to be.

What I hadn't considered was the difficulty of finding an open church at seven on a Saturday evening. Apparently they lock the things these days, which I have to admit surprised me, though it shouldn't. People are as likely to steal things out of a church as anywhere else, after all.

I tried the one closest to work, and then another down the street; both were locked up tight. So I sat down on the back porch of the second one, where if I leaned up I could look in the window and at least see the altar, and got started.

The prayer was for transformation -- Let us look within ourselves to see that which needs to be transformed so that we may become the people God has called us to be, and fitted to perform the work He has called us to do. I hadn't thought at all, ahead of time, about what that might be; and as I finished the prayer and started to think, the thing that came to my mind was 'faith'. I need faith, and that's what I prayed for.

And wound up, to my total surprise, sobbing. Bawling my eyes out. I don't cry too much, see, as I mentioned recently. So, yeah, erm. What?

And what kept going through my mind was 'I wanted to go inside, but the door was locked.'. The door was locked. I wound up kneeling in front of the back door of the church, crying, and repeating 'I only ever wanted to come inside, I only ever wanted to come inside'.

This is the point where, if this were a Chicken Soup story or something in Reader's Digest, there would have been a click, and when I tried it again, the door was mysteriously unlocked; or the kindly minister came up, held me while I cried, and unlocked the door for me. This is real life, so none of that happened (and I did try the door again, just in case). What happened was I cried for a while, and then stopped, wiped my eyes, and said okay, this is what I have, now let's see what I can do with it.

I prayed the closing prayer and went back to the car. Blew my nose a couple times, called Tim to let him know I was on my way and he could start the pasta. He asked if I could pick up wine to go with dinner; I told him I had some at my place already, and that I'd grab it before I came over. I'd kept my voice level up until then, and the crying had mostly retreated, but I almost burst into tears again -- at the image, fleeting but powerful, of my hands, pouring wine.

By the time came to actually pour wine I was fine and the whole thing was retreating into fuzzy memory. Dinner and wine helps with that sort of thing, too. I didn't get a chance to tell Tim about it that night, so I locked it all away and figured I'd just see what happened at church the next morning.


Got not-quite-enough sleep, decided to eat breakfast because it was going to be late by the time I got out of church and I didn't plan to go up for communion anyway. Changed what I was going to wear five times, settled on a simple black linen skirt and a light blue sweater. Got the directions and drove.

The congregation shares the building with the local Lutheran church, who has their services at ten-thirty. Usually there's a pretty good gap between the two, but the Lutheran congregation had two baptisms that day and ran late. So I milled around with people heading out and people heading in, confused and feeling very out of place, quietly hoping someone would come up and say something to me. Eventually someone did -- an older woman, part of the Lutheran congregation, who asked me if I was with Light of Christ and apologized for their service taking so long. I hesitated a bit before I answered her question. I don't know if I'm with Light of Christ yet, but simpler to say 'yes, I am' than to launch into explanations. And besides which, I had an image of Peter denying Jesus three times and not wanting to do the same.


Mass was...I don't know. I guess I want a little more joy in my worship. There was music, a two-member choir, a few members of the congregation who specifically spread out around the room to support the (rather quiet) singing. But it was still quiet, the choir looking more businesslike than joyous, the lady who read the lessons solemn. Perhaps it's just that they're small. Maybe they got thrown off by the other congregation running late. I don't know.

The gospel reading was strong, and I liked the sermon. And then communion. I like how they do it; everyone goes up front and makes a circle around the priest while he does his thing (sorry, tired and not remembering of proper words). One of the ladies who greeted me waved me up, but didn't push when I shook my head a little. I appreciate both. I did wish that I felt as if I could, but...I didn't feel that way. I wanted to go up. I just didn't feel right doing so.

After Mass I asked to talk to the priest when he had a moment. He said yes, of course, cos that's his job; on the way to his office we talked a little about light stuff, where do I live, he's moving up here soon with his family, they'll be moving close to me...

And when we got to his office, I didn't know how to say what I wanted to say. I finally stumbled through it all, the baptism and confirmation, the fact that I didn't believe but said I did anyway, that that I didn't feel right coming up for communion because of it. That I wasn't sure that they counted.

He talked about the Sacraments, told me that for all we try to understand them, they're a mystery, we can't entirely understand how God works. Did they count? Only God knows, but it was his belief that surely they must. He told me about his confirmation, that the only reason he did it was so he could stop going to CCD. I chuckled a bit; sometime later, I'm sure, I'll ask him how he came to the priesthood.

He said that of course I'd've been welcome at communion, and I reassured him that I didn't feel that anyone there would have kept me from it -- it was something internal to me, something I had to deal with before I felt like I could receive. Something I had to make right, and I wasn't sure how.

He smiled at me. "I don't know how this will work for you," he said, "and I don't mean to push, but I think you just did."

I thought about that one for a while. And, you know? I think he's right. Confession is a powerful thing if done right, and though this wasn't a formal confession (I don't even know if the ECC does them) I think it helped me a lot.

So...that was that. No huge revelations, but I did leave with a good feeling about things.


Gardening that afternoon, and then dinner, and finally got to telling Tim about it all pretty late Sunday night. Told him about 'I wanted to go inside, but the door was locked' and 'I only ever wanted to come inside' and my hands, pouring wine. Told him about mass and how I might change things there if I could. About talking to the priest. And the whole time he has this little smile on his face.

Told him about the dream I had a few weeks ago and blamed on Mother Laura, in which I got ordained. Still that little smile. Musing, now -- about belief, about faith. He tells me that Ray's nervous about my whole turn towards religion, worried he'll say something wrong and offend me. That Tim's not so worried about Ray offending me as he is that the Awakening that Ray had planned for my Mage character might just mess with my head, given my fairly fragile mental state when it comes to religion.

I'll skip the details cos I don't figure most of you do any roleplaying and simply say that what Ray had planned for my character was something involving archangels. I chuckled and told Tim, hey, I might not be entirely sure about this whole God and Jesus thing quite yet, but I know where I stand with Michael. I'm good with the archangels; no danger there. He chuckled and said, yeah. That's because you have faith.

I think I blushed; I know I threatened to whack him on the head. But whatever; I guess he's right though I certainly never expected anything like faith to appear in my life. More musings; I told him about Mother Laura confessing to me in comments on another post, and my discomfort with that -- not with her telling me about a thing she felt she'd done wrong, just with the format of it. I can't hear confession, I'm not... but I'd always been good at counseling people, a good listener; it's always been one of the things I do. Never felt any urge to go into social work or become a psychologist or anything much like, though, and what else is there to do for someone who's a listener at heart?

Still smiling. Verging on a smirk.

What do you think, I asked him (and I blush to even type it here; it seems so presumptuous), this is leading to? I dream of ordination, of pouring wine; am I heading towards...I couldn't say it then, I can't type it now. It just feels so improbable...

Pretty much, he said, he's been waiting a few years for me to figure it out.

I really did almost hit him that time.

Right now? Really have no idea where, if anywhere, this is going. It might fade in a couple weeks, never to be thought of again (though Tim expressed his opinion on the likelihood of that). I figure I'll find out as I go, and I'm okay with that. I'm...serene, heading into the unknown. It's been a long, long time since I've felt that way. It's gonna be a good journey.


Mother Laura said...

Oh, Kate....You rock! And so does God/dess! (And you write better than Anne Lamott too)

I am so very happy for you, and proud of you. And so glad you have good loving hearts at church and home, who will help you discover and embrace your own holiness and call, whatever it may be...I'm liking Tim and his smirks already, and I'm liking that priest too.

Praying for you bunches, and so grateful to be part of your Quest.

(((our hero)))

Jenne said...

It was Good.

(Yeah, ok, kid you moved me.)

Sally said...

well said- a moving post :-)

HilbertAstronaut said...

Powerful stuff :)

When you talked about just wanting to get into the church and pray, it reminded me of a friend from undergrad. We were lucky to live in a Catholic dorm with an attached chapel that we could visit at all hours (and we did!). I used to spent a lot of time there, especially after late-night homework sessions, or after I first got up in the morning (there weren't that many hours separating those two things ;-) ).

Anyway, my friend sometimes was filled with the same emotions that you described -- just wanting to be in the church and be close to the altar and the tabernacle. I remember once she even hid underneath the old high altar (the ad orientem (figuratively speaking -- it was actually on the north side of the church) pre-V2 altar which now serves as a tabernacle stand) just to be that much closer.

I'm glad that you found comfort and strength and blessing in the Mass that followed and your talk with the priest.

I'd like to talk more off-the-record about faith and stuff -- poke my blog if you're interested.

seeking chivalry said...

Mother Laura, thank you so much for your help with me getting to this place...wherever it is. I'll figure out the details as I go. :)

Jenne? *hugs* Thank you. :)

Sally - Thank you so much!

Hilbert - thanks for the invite - I'll see you over at your place, so to speak.