Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Things I worry about in church

When I attend services at my church, I always go in with the best of intentions.... I am going to get there early so that I can really meditate on the presence of God in my life, I'm going to say all those prayers I keep meaning to say, I am going to be good and holy and - hmmmm, is that someone talking very loudly in the confessional?  Alright, get back on task. Plug your ears and start being holy.  I browse through the bulletin in hopes of getting my mind right.  A man comes in and sits down in front of me and I start noticing the lint in his hair, the frazzled edges of his suit coat, the faint smell of cigarette smoke and booze wafting off of him... Focus!  Then there is the cute little girl  two rows ahead of me with her index finger buried two-knuckles deep in her right nostril - Wow, she going to pull out gray matter.  She's very hard to look away from and I find myself making faces at her and trying to get a reaction.  She's seems dedicated to her task - maybe there's a lesson there for me.  I shake my head as if to clear it and start looking at the iconography around the church.  It is beautifully crafted and draws me in and I find myself back on the sainthood track. My inner voice is telling me that if I can just sustain this moment.... and then, in walks a woman with impossible shoes on.  I am at once immensely impressed that she can remain upright in the things - they must have 4 inch heels and enough straps and buckles to qualify as some sort of torture devices and greatly concerned that she will not make it through the service... please, please, please help me to stop being so distracted by, well, everything.  If I'm going to be pulled off task, can't it be for something selfless and charitable. 
I wonder if anyone notices that I always sit in the exact same spot (mostly out of anxiety and the need to know what to expect).  I marvel that I have been coming to this same church for lots and lots of years and there are still people I know by sight but couldn't tell you their names to save my life. I worry about whether I will fall or find out I have a big hole in my pants when I get up to go to Communion, what if something really goes wrong.... and then I get concerned about being concerned because I am not supposed to worry, I am supposed to trust in God, and I do, but...
I always feel such a sense of accomplishment and relief when services have concluded.  Like I made it though a firing line and while I may have some shrapnel wounds, I'm alive.  The goofy thing is, this is not exclusive to attending church services.  I experience much the same thing, leaving the house for work, going to the grocery, showing up at a restaurant to meet someone, etc... Life is beautiful and a lot of work. I'll be two rows up digging unselfconsciously in my nose.


  1. Wow! I just love your blog. It is so much fun. It is nice to know that somebody else struggles to be focused in church and takes the time to notice and enjoy all the wacky and beautiful and sometimes gross things that happen in everyday life. Keep up the good work!

  2. You're digging in your nose right now aren't you?

  3. Loved this post! The comment about the little girl reminded me of Eli, who told me the other day after daycare: "Mommy....I think I felt my BRAIN today....". Full of seriousness and wonder. Kids are awesome.