Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Not the River, But the Stream

I am a contrary sort. I chafe at being told what to do, and I especially dislike being told I can't do something. The thought of giving up something I like does not sit well with me. When I was pregnant I let go of this mindset, it was rather easy to do, because it was for an irrefutably good reason. But overall I'd rather have the option to have a little bit of everything at will than total feast or famine. You will never catch me doing a fast or cleanse of any kind. And this is why, when I used to observe Lent (9 years of Catholic school, what!) I was the queen of the loophole - I figured if I could make a case that tacking on something I don't usually do vs. giving something up would be more meaningful, everyone would win. And it turned out that somewhere in my sneaky snake machinations, everyone did. Everyone meaning me. In my attempts to outsmart authority, I outsmarted myself, but to a positive end. I'm thinking specifically of the one year I got it in my head that I wanted to attend 7 a.m. mass with my grandparents every day during the Lenten season. I was just telling my some people about this, so it's fresh in my mind.

I was probably nine years old, and not a huge fan of waking up early or going to church voluntarily. But I did it, every single day. I have to tell you I don't remember the mass part at all, but what stays with me is that I got to have alone time with my grandparents, which was something of a luxury. We'd go to mass in the freezing darkness, and afterward Gram and Pup and Aunt Laura (I just remembered she was part of the package) and I would sit around the table and have toast and coffee (hot cocoa for me) and share the paper and having that memory means more to me than any service I've ever attended. How could I have known that's what would come of it? I didn't know. I had no concept of the future, and that's as it should be, I suppose. The crux of this story is in no way a knock on religion, that's an extremely personal subject and when I address it in here I can only speak to my own experience. The point is that ruminating on things like this is as close as I come to spiritual.

I just had breakfast at that same table on Sunday, and though Pup and Aunt Laura weren't there to share the meal, in a way they are always there. I may not believe in an afterlife, but I believe in legacies created from love. And when I think of the word "sacred," the vision of that morning table so long ago is what comes to mind. So there you have it.

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