Meditations: Easter Sunday Mass, The Goodwill, and the Slow and Agonizing Death of the Myth of Quality Time that Couldn't Come Soon Enough.
The entire trite idea--from its insipid, pseudo-psycho-babbly-style name to its central philosophy--of "Quality Time" is horse shit.
I was an impatient, self-involved, artsy-fartsy teenager when all those insipid, pseudo-psycho-babblers started bandying the term about and I knew it was horse shit. They knew it was horse shit but they sold the stupid parenting books anyway!! EVERYBODY knew it was horse shit. But, much like the fantasy-land of politically-mandated communism, people still want to believe it can work. If you just get the right people in charge, if you can just apply the right amount of legislation and force and if we can just keep everyone from fleeing the country...it can work!
It will not.
It is horse shit.
People, children, animals, weather, opportunities, tides, horses, flowers, tomatoes and so on won't do something or have something or be something you want them to do or have or be simply because you designate a moment that you are feeling all patient and virtuous and like you have your shit together. I don't even know most of you and I ain't got time for that horse shit. You actually have to spend quite a bit of time with a horse to get the real horse shit.
I was meditating on this at mass on Easter Sunday. Or something that sort of passed for it. For most of us, Easter Sunday is a test of sheer will rather than a time of joyful communion or life-changing enlightenment and re-birth. It is, rather, a tight, anxiety-saturated church service, presented by clergy obviously treading a fine line between this being one of their Big Shows and not wanting to estrange--right off the bat anyway--a very temporarily swollen congregation full of mutinous children who have been bribed and cajoled within an inch of their lives by overtly anxious parents to look somewhat presentable for grimly self-satisfied grandparents and so apparently pre-occupy themselves with sending sulky, Snap-chat selfies to their friends or continuously asking, "Is it over yet??" in passive-aggressive stage whispers.
I realize this makes me sound like a priggish, old Church Lady.
I am not. Well. Except maybe "old."
I am old.
I have never--ever--been assured of my faith. Or my relationship with the Almighty. Or the Almighty's plan or purpose for me. I often wonder if the Almighty is just sort of winging it where I'm concerned. I often wonder at (and am a bit envious, if I'm truly honest) other believers'--of any faith (or lack thereof)--confidence that they are walking the right and just path and that their god loves them and the rest of it. But--sometimes I think I might have caught glimpses of it. I have had teeny tiny peeks at tiny moments of sheer beauty and harmony and infinite universes. But the overwhelming majority of the time, I'm just some sort of rough and slouching beast, fumbling along in the footsteps of the saints and the artists and the watchers of the heavens. I still have friends who wonder why I still bother.
I still have friends who think the things I find at the Goodwill are nothing short of miraculous. Every time they go, they say, they only find huge heaps of nasty crap. How can they possibly be expected to sift through all that fugly shit? The thought of it makes them bored, overwhelmed and a bit...icky. (And the same thing gets said for exercising, painting, writing, eating healthy--I'm just not inspired right now; when I get the time/the space/the right equipment et cetera...)
I must have uncanny good luck or a saintly tolerance for the most disgusting and distasteful things.
I most definitely do not.
I just keep showing up. Like some sort of masochist--I continue to be around for my children as they enter their obstreperous teenage years, in case they feel like talking, write awkward blogposts and absurd stories, create clumsy, experimental things, go to thrift stores, to yoga classes, to mass. Sometimes I have to force myself to go. It happens. Sometimes I just don't go and I realize I'll have to forfeit whatever treasure happens in my absence.
I do know you will never find whatever it is you're looking for if you aren't there.
You may not be there when the Hermes scarf shows up at the Goodwill. When the words suddenly take on their own lives and you fall through the rabbit hole of your own written world. When a sermon by a stuttering priest actually strikes some deep and secret chord in your heart that resonates for that moment of pure harmonious bliss. When a toddler points to a sparkly pebble and shows you the infinite Glory of the universe. These things are not guaranteed. They may never happen at all. But you most certainly may miss them if you aren't there at all. Or if you still believe "Quality Time" does not involve a huge "Quantity of Time."