My world came full circle this weekend, when I saw my childhood choir director for the first time in about 18 years or so. Looking into his familiar face made my day. My favorite memory of him is that his last name is four syllables, so one of our choir members printed up t-shirts with the first page of No. 44, Hallelujah, with his name instead of “Hallelujah.” I wish you’d seen his face when we all surprised him~ it was absolutely priceless, because of course we were all wearing them and started singing the moment he walked in.
It’s moments like this that make me glad to be back in Texas, because it truly feels like coming home for good. I feel like I’ve had some of the wildest times of my life, the worst mistakes, the highest victories. I didn’t reach the goal I’d hoped while I was gone, but I got what I needed, which was the idea that I could be me, and that was okay, because that person is beloved regardless of how messy my life is at any given moment.
It’s storming out, and the calming rattle and hum is feeding my contemplative nature. I’m listening to Regina Spektor radio on Pandora, which is just the perfect writer’s blend… and yet, I’m not sure what to say. The things that happen to me are all interesting in their own way. Culling it down is harder than dictating everything, but that would turn my blog into even more of a brain dump than it already is.
Speaking of which, thank you for reading my brain dump. Special thanks to those who help shovel.
I would say that summing up my Portland experience is this: there are lots of situations I hope aren’t the end of the movie. Right now, it kind of looks like Broken Flowers, where at the end there are more questions than answers. I got that line from an episode of Will and Grace, where Grace is crying over something (I forget what), and Will comforts her by saying, “Gracie, this just isn’t the end of your movie. There’s more.” To address the inevitable question in your mind, I am not talking about the relationship with my abuser. I feel like I have made it clear that I have high standards for getting access to me due to all the damage done to my foundation. She has made it clear through thought, word, and deed that I should never expect it. So I don’t.
I am talking about all the things that I left undone.
That line touches me to my core, because it comes from the Book of Common Prayer.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
I let that line kick me in the gut every week, because I really feel the discomfort. I have to listen to it so that I can be a better person than I was the week before.
I pray for all the hurt that I’ve caused my friends and family, because acknowledgement of my flaws and failures is the seat of Christianity for me. Like C.S. “Jack” Lewis, “I don’t pray because it changes God. I pray because it changes me.”
I tested a lot of boundaries when I was on my own, like all young people do. When I found out that there was a better way, I chose it. I thank God every day for the compassion I’ve been able to learn for myself, because it gives me more compassion and love for others than I ever thought possible.
There’s something really happening at my church. There’s something familiar about the words of the Anglican church still being said so that there is still the ritual. I can’t always believe in God, but I can be faithful, do the ritual and “act as if” until the next “God moment” appears.
And it always does.
The reason that I saw my childhood choir director is that his best friend’s dad died, and we were both at the funeral. My priest also attended, and sat next to me during the service. I said something snarky about the preacher (when you run out of things to say, stop talking) and she said something about how I shouldn’t do that because she has a lot of sympathy for preachers. I completely realized just how jaded I’d become, because while I take my faith seriously, I think a lot of things about church life are uproariously funny and deserved of ridicule because that’s the foundation of a good church vs. a bad one- the ability to laugh at themselves. At the same time, because my priest didn’t like it, I felt that I’d crossed the line between appropriate and inappropriate things to say, and I melted from this emotional armor and thought about what she said all day long. I thought about how young she was, and how I didn’t want to be the one to jade her, as well.
If that’s not a God moment, I don’t know what is.