We’ve started going to the pretty church in JCrewville and oy, what a scene. I had been resisting going there because it seems claustrophobic to spend time on Sunday with the very same people with whom I’ve spent Monday though Friday. Come the Sabbath, I’m looking for a break.
But here I sit, surrounded by all the locals. Totally bugged. I’ve come to open my soul, and now I’m pissed at that PTA mother who didn’t say hi to me outside even though, hello — I KNOW she saw me.
Plus looking around, I realize I’m dressed totally wrong. I’m wearing an old black suit from my working days — “Vintage Ann Taylor” as my friend Trish would say. I thought I looked pretty good when I left the house, but apparently others have bought new clothes in the last decade. Who knew?
My skin feels tight. It’s hard to smile. I need coffee. I try to read the bulletin, but I find my attention wandering over to the two people in front of me who are whispering about someone a few pews ahead of them. I was hoping for a repreive from social manuevers, but apparently not.
I do like the minister though. He lives around the corner from me. I’ve always found him warm and a bit distant at the same time (very skilled at boundaries, I suspect). He has a boyish face and curly, reddish hair that makes you want to trust him. When he stands tall at the pulpit in his black robe, I do manage to forget he’s my neighbor.
One Sunday, I sat next to this woman I sort-of know who brought a Styrofoam cup of coffee in the sanctuary with her. She was just casually sitting there legs crossed, foot bouncing, and sipping away next to me and I was totally distracted by her every movement. I was trying to pay attention, but the corner of my eye kept wandering over to her. Where did she get that coffee? Why was she drinking it in here? What was up with those shoes she was wearing? Meanwhile, while I was checking her out, I totally missed some important lesson about God that I’m sure could have made me a kinder person.
When we bowed our heads to pray the Lord’s Prayer, she poked me in the arm sometime after “Thy will be done” and stage whispered “I’m heading out. I’ll see you later.”
“Sounds good, on earth as it is in heaven” I whispered back.
Hello? Was she not listening? It was the Lord’s Prayer for Christ’s sake (literally). But then I began to wonder: Where was she going? What was so important? Couldn’t she have at least stayed for the whole prayer? Was she getting more coffee? Would she be back?
Meanwhile, a huge chunk of sermon blew right past me.
It’s funny, I thought by going to church, I would find peace. But peace doesn’t come when everyone else quiets down, it only happens when I do.
May we all find enough quiet within ourselves to hear the peace. Amen.