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In a Pew Near You

Jim The Small Child Nephew and Will The Smaller Child Nephew have a new cousin.  His name is Logan.  His big brother is two-year-old Noah, and Noah enjoys leaning over the infant's bassinet and screaming "HI BABY!!!!"  And Logan, his pediatrician just found, has acid reflux.  Who wouldn't?

I create 99% of my own "HI BABY!!!!"s my own self, triggering a vestigial startle reflex and toppling the frustration dominoes one by one:  I feel fat.  So I should exercise.  But I only have an hour and a half before I need to leave for class.  Nah, I can squeeze it in.  And then I'm bolting out of the house two hours later with a briefcase and sopping hair.  Now I'm going to be late for class. And if I'm late for class, my students will discover that I am, in fact, incompetent.  Word will get back to the department head.  I won't be offered any classes for next semester.  Doom, destruction, economic collapse, etc.  But a KitKat Big Kit Limited Edition Extra Crispy Bar is a mere sixty-five cents.  And now:  I feel fat.

On the heels of the meeting with Fr. Anger Management, I tried something this week I'd been encouraged to do my whole Catholic life but never actually did-- an hour of Eucharistic Adoration.  It's kind of a way of keeping Jesus company;  unlike me, apparently, Jesus was a people person.  Not because I'm so incredibly super-holy awesome, but brother, because I desperately need the extra-credit assistance.

So what you do is, you go to the church when the Eucharist is present (or-- and I can't tell whether this is awesome or depressing--online) and you sit.  Or kneel.  Or both.  But mostly you're quiet.  Physically, anyway.

I wasn't sure exactly what to do there, so I did a Rosary and sat some more.  Half an hour to go.  One of the priests came and went to hear a by-appointment Confession.  Another parishioner showed up to make a circuit of the Stations of the Cross.  Still I sat.

I am highly unused to being still with God.  Dude's busy.  We talk mostly in the form of please and thank you's.  There's Mass on Sunday and there's the Rosary or Bible study and then there's this... sitting business.

For an hour.

What is a person supposed to say to Jesus?  "So... that Jimmy Clausen, major improvement on the hair, huh?"  Do I whine the way I usually do in prayer?  Think about the physical pain of the Cross?  Go through an enormous litany of thanks and "please bless"es? Mentally recite the lyrics of "I Can't Drive Fifty-Five" and check all ten fingernails for splittage? Because that's what I wound up doing.  It was some pretty craptastic adoring I was throwing down there.  WORST.  ADORING.  EVER, in fact.

I studied a lot of carpet fibers.

I didn't mean to.  But then, at the fifty-minute mark, I realized that all the earlier fidgeting had in fact been an enormous mental flushing.  Sammy Hagar went away, and so did the carpet.  I worked through a slow realization about humility in my work, and there weren't any thunderclaps or exploding statues or anything, but it was something I could sit next to on the couch, maybe offer it some gum.  That's a start, right?  Jimmy aside?

At the end of the hour I stood in the aisle for a few seconds, like a moron.  The main good thing about hanging out with Jesus is you don't have to go through the whole brain-numbing social leavetaking:  "Thanks so much!"  "No problem-- you take care!"  "You too!"  "Drive safe, now."  "And have a nice weekend!"  "Uh-huh!"  And so on and so forth until somebody hangs up or dies.

But for the first time ever, I wavered in the aisle for a bit before immediately taking a knee, as I've done since I mastered gross motor skills.  (Fine motor skills:  Still waiting.)  I'd been perfectly rotten company for fifty minutes.  Maybe it was that I'd never stayed that still for that long, or maybe it was the tabernacle, but I very calmly cooked a steak for my husband and me to eat.  Plus a side dish.

red potatoes in vegetable oil, if you must know at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

tip the bartender

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Reader Comments (9)

Wow, MB. This is exactly what I needed today. I've been stewing in my own vat of serotonin lately---can't decide if I don't have enough, or if it's too much, or what.
What I do know is that new principal + overcrowded school + bunches of new academic programs = one incredibly stressed-out teacher (as well as several others).
My mom told me several times today as I cried to her on the phone that I need to "turn your burdens over to God and allow Him to work in your life".
I told her that He couldn't grade the papers or deal with the behavior issues. She said, "No, but He can work things out for you, if you'd only let Him."
That's my mom. Gotta love her. Not Catholic, just very quietly, stoically, humbly Protestant. She has always been this way, and God has kept her from succumbing to what is supposed to be a terminal disease (Systemic Lupus and Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis) for nearly 40 years.

You're both right: I need to go spend an hour being still in His presence.

October 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWiserlemmingAZ

Now I see why YOU are such a lovely person: You had a great mom. "You're both right"-- what a great attitude. Better-days thoughts ahead : )

October 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Thanks! I wish the same for you. It's supposed to be much, much cooler out here this weekend. Perhaps I'll go find a quiet spot on one of the mountains not too far away and finally go be still in His presence.

October 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWiserlemmingAZ

I know it's a cliche but hey, without cliches, it would be much harder to complete an English major -

"Be still and know that I am God." That corner was obviously what you needed - well done.

October 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlemming

Very good writing of your depiction of being with Jesus. May God bless all that you do in your writing and witness for Him. In His grace, scott
feel free to look at and comment on my blog. Jenn Grosser referred me to your site. looking forward to more. peace again. scott

October 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScott R. Davis

Back in the day, I with other friends did an all-night Eucharistic adoration in a church close to our home. It was an... interesting experience, more because of the fact that by 3 in the morning somebody had called the cops—a zealous neighbour who thought we were vandalizing the temple or something— who threatened us with shoguns, forced us to line against a wall, punched one of my buddies in his *ehem* nether regions, and offered another one a Marijuana joint to see if he fell for it.

Thankfully, everything got settled after our group leader came and explained we had permission fom the Parish to be there; so God can't complain I don't go to His/Her house anymore, because I've already have crossed the "Martyrdom" gig in my Catholic's 'To-Do list" ;-)

But yes, being still and quiet when trying to be in communion with God is incredibly difficult.

October 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

I don't know if this helps at all, but I signed up for perpetual adoration at my last parish and did it for a year. (One hour a week for a year, not... well, you know.) They're kind enough to provide books at that adoration chapel, so I developed a routine where I said a Chaplet of Divine Mercy (somehow easier for me than a rosary, because there are prayers I always foul up in the rosary and I can never remember which mysteries go with which days), some intercessory prayer, and then read something spiritual (some C.S. Lewis, St. Therese's Story of a Soul, that kind of thing). It kept me awake and engaged (my adoration hour was 10 p.m. on a weeknight, which means that the sleeping was a definite possibility, but I'm the type who will doze in any still, quiet situation.) Me sitting for an hour without structure lets my internal monologue go a little nuts. Yours sounds like it led you somewhere good--- mine is usually better stifled.

I liked the adoration experience but didn't take it up in my new parish. I've been back to do it at my old parish a couple of times recently, both because I'm with you on needing some extra credit and because in a hectic time, a little stillness and connection with God is something I find very helpful. Best of luck to you with yours!

October 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZoe

On the potatoes: Try using olive oil (virgin, extra virgin--doesn't matter) next time. It's much healthier for you, and it has a nicer taste than vegetable oil : )

On God: Try standing still in church for 2.5 hours. Yes, standing, sometimes alternated with lengthy bouts of kneeling. Adoration is tough when you're experiencing burning sensations in your back and knees. I guess that's what they call 'penance'?

October 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

That's a great tip, j.s. I was actually thinking that myself as I poured the veggie oil in... "Wonder if I can use EVOO with this?" I think I'll make it that way next time. And maybe it won't set off the smoke alarm.

October 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB
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