Welcome to the third post (you can see the first here and the second here) in a series I’m calling “Churchin’”. It seeks to explore spirituality, theology (without the theologians), and current events all under the overarching theme of Life as a Journey as the core of religious understanding and experience. I’m going to tell the story of how I ended up where I am, and the road I’m walking now that I’m here. I welcome the addition of your stories and comments as well. Remember, I’m not out to stand on a rock and proclaim myself the best religious scholar of all time, nor the teller of absolute truth, so please be gentle.
In the lead up to Easter, I prepared myself to take communion for the first time …. ever. I confessed. I prayed. I sat in silence reflecting on the enormity that leaving the way my life used to be behind in an ancient ritual really was.
On Good Friday, I was ready. I wrote previously about my plan for that day. I hemmed and hawed trying to decide if I was really ready (like, super human ready) to offer up everything I used to be for something new. I worried. I was convinced I was one minute and convinced I wasn’t the next. I was terrified. I had never (ever!) taken communion. All of that transubstantiation stuff aside, it’s still a huuuuuuuuuge deal. It’s a ritual, sure, but one that says to G-d and everyone, “Hey, I’m in this for the long haul”. Was I ready to say goodbye to life as a Jew? Was I ready to commit to something so entirely different (and beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but chunking out a part of your identity for the last 10+ years is difficult at best)? I don’t make G-d decisions lightly and I’m inherently a hotbed of anxiety. The two together? Terrible.
I steeled my nerves in the parking lot before walking into Church. I was alone, and I figured that might end up an ok thing … because then no one had to know. I didn’t have to explain anything. I could be anonymous. I walked in the door ready to do this thing …,
And they didn’t have communion.
Ok, I thought, I’ll be ready for Easter Sunday then. I’m sure they’ll have communion, and what better symbolism than dying to my old self and being resurrected through communion on Resurrection Sunday? Perfect. Picture perfect, in fact.
And then, they didn’t have communion on Sunday either.
What about my perfect plan!? What about my profound experience?! What about my life changing moment, surrounded by 3 or 4,000 of my closest friends (whose names I don’t know) on the perfect day?! Hmph. I was pouting for sure. I am a planner by nature. I don’t like it when things go differently than I envision them going.
This, of course, is probably the reason they don’t work out in the first place, so I can learn some lesson about me not always being in control … a lesson I’m still working on (along with one about not writing run on sentences).
I resolved myself that I had missed my chance, but that there would be another one some time (I mean, come on, it’s Church … they kind of do that communion thing a bunch). I would just have to wait it out, and when the time was right, the opportunity would present itself.
And then there was yesterday, the 25th of April.
I saw the elements set up around the stage when I walked in. I started internal panic mode immediately. What if today wasn’t the perfect day? What if I wasn’t in the right mindset? What if I couldn’t think of anything profound to say? What if G-d wasn’t listening today? What if I went through with this and didn’t feel anything?! Would that mean this whole process was for naught or wrong or a waste of time?
(Note to self: Stop worrying so flippin’ much. Calm down, crazypants.)
During the opening prayer I kept distracting myself with the ongoing “Yes, let’s do this” versus “No, today is all wrong, I’ll just wait” conversation in my head. I missed the first part of the teaching … well, I heard it, but it didn’t sink in well, because I was worrying myself sick. Today is the day, no, next time, no, today, no, today isn’t right, let’s wait, no.
Yes, it really sounds like that in my brain.
Then I heard, ‘sometimes, when things don’t go right … don’t go how you planned … when you don’t get the outcome you’re looking for, you just have to offer it up as a sacred sacrifice and let G-d do the rest’.
When the music started for communion, I didn’t have a plan. I sat and I bowed my head and I started talking (not out loud, lest the people next to me think me crazier than I appear). I offered up all those things I made plans and goals and 389 point action steps for. I let go of the uber-control I try to have on what we eat (by which I mean I plan and worry and don’t execute particularly well). I let go of trying to micromanage my brother (for whom I still can’t stop acting like the parent I was to him for part of our childhood) and the hurt that comes from him making decisions contrary to the ones I would make. I let go of stressing over the no baby dilemma. I let go of worrying about people judging this Jesus thing I’m doing these days (or at least, I tried to … A for effort, ok?). I sat and I said, “Here. You take it.”
And then I cried a little.
Don’t worry, no one saw (or I like to believe no one saw … please tell me no one saw). Whew.
And I got up out of my chair, walked to the end of the line, prayed the Our Father while I waited so my brain wouldn’t have time to revolt, knelt down, and took communion.
I have a hundred more thoughts than that, but the most all encompassing is just those three simple letters.
No turning back now …