it appears that working on the book of essays is making me a bit coo coo pushing myself too hard and whatnot and therefore I will work, if I do any writing work, on poems today.
which sucks but I just cannot drive myself too hard.
looked up and into some old friends on face book last night and it made me feel vulnerable. in a bad way. when do we ever get over the wounds of our old religions? the people who knew us before we broke away? who would not approve of us of where of him to whom we have returned? when is it okay to just kick the can and say, you know what? everybody under fifty says fuck. and all my friends over fifty say fuck too. and you know what else? fuck is just a word. and you go to movies and the people in the movies say fuck. and you may think that sex outside of marriage is a no no still a no no but you love Big Bang Theory. and probably House of Cards. and Lifetime Movie Channel. and Friends. when will I ever stop feeling guilty for things I don’t feel guilty for? when will I leap over the line in time that my mom leapt over when she went from super duper fundy prude to an almost normal person? when will I stop slapping my own hands?
oh my. I hash it and hash it and rehash it. again. again. again. I cannot seem to exorcise it away. in writing. in talking. I am a child of God. my mind to your mind. my heart to your heart. my body to your body. when will that little tight-chested girl at Camp Joy go away?
in the Episcopal church a common conversation is what our religious pasts did to us, how we were damaged, how we grew brains, how we let go of fear, how we learned not to hate. how we had to get as far away from God as possible and how we had to come back. how we had to find our people and our place and that lo and behold God is in that place too.
we also talk about the things we miss. the power in the blood hymns. the piano. maybe the clapping of hands. maybe the Christmas tree. we talk about our families who may not approve of us and how it hurts to not be accepted for who we are.
and for my church here in Chattanooga, Grace Episcopal Church, when I tell people I go to my church people often say, “well that’s not real church.” and I know just what they mean. but now that comment is beginning to sting.
just because you are a liberal. just because you are pro-choice. just because you think everyone should be able to love whomever they want. just because you’re a Democrat and want poor people to have a real leg up. just because you don’t deny that you drink wine and beer and liquor and have doubts and don’t believe all those creeds and words from the prayer book you love so much. just because we pray with our eyes open. just because our priest puts ashes on our heads on Ash Wednesday. just because we see the bible for what it is—faulty, inconsistent, ancient, entertaining, marvelous, frightening, offensive, troubling, enlightening, confusing—a big fat book written by men who may or may not have been inspired. a book complied and finalized by men who may or may not have been inspired or close to God. we see it this way because we read this book in church. not just a couple of verses on Sunday. we read the whole book over a three year period. because our worship is centered around scripture, the brief homily, and the table, the great feast.
I cannot and should not speak for all Episcopalians, but in my church I can and do wear my real face, not the one I keep by the door. okay, not entirely. I do withhold most of my fucks and some of my shits. but I am myself. I don’t hide the fact that I am a writer. I don’t scurry away in fear because I’m afraid of being found out. About it. Whatever it is.
But I am still afraid of being found out by my family. And apparently the people with whom I grew up and went to church, people who say things like “I’m so blessed” and “I’ll pray for you” and post things like “The Day We Give Up On Israel Is The Day God Will Turn His Back On America.” And the thing that is so hard is I know why they say these things and believe these things. Because I did once, too.
Skipper’s grandmother, Blondell, the best bones in a face I’ve ever seen, once said that she prayed that the tornadoes would fly over her trailer over the ridge and spare her. And they did. Apparently with never a thought of the folks on the other side of the ridge.
I am done with this. Except I’m not. And I am blessed. Exponentially. Thoroughly. And blighted. I am grey and God is grey, the world, everything. Of course it’s also brilliantly colored. Full of light. And Sidewalk Cracks.