“Do you really think God cares if you go to church every Sunday?”

I go to mass in a Roman Catholic Church every Sunday. I have often been met with the question, “Why?”, from Protestants and non-believers alike. Followed by the title of this piece. Do I really think God cares if I go to church every Sunday? Yes. I do. But my why does not require scripture or the evidence that my inquirers always expect. It may exist, but I don’t need it. I go to church every Sunday because I believe we should want to.

I have heard so many times the anti-church lament that we shouldn’t have to worship God in a church. That believing in Him is enough, and if we pray from time to time, we should be alright. Maybe that’s true. When I get to heaven’s gate, I guess I’ll find out. But how does that set us apart from any other human? Even the faintest of believers pray in desperate moments. We need our time in the sanctuary. It should not be difficult for us to set aside one day, even just an hour of a day, to spend time with Jesus. It is like any other important relationship in our universes. You get coffee with friends. You go home on breaks from college to see your family. You have date nights with your spouse. God is as important as these relationships. No, he is the most important of these relationships. And just like the people we love, it is not and should never be a chore to spend time with Him.

An hour of your Sunday. An hour to sit and be with Jesus and say what you need. Thank you. Help me. It is in Sunday mass that He is presented to us body and blood. And we get to participate! We get to become one with him. How can we possibly expect our loved ones to really know us if we never choose to spend time with them? Time is the most valuable thing we can give another, and time with Jesus begins with a Sunday in the sanctuary.

“you are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.”
― Warsan Shire

The one.

“When I met my wife, being with her wasn’t like anything else. No one I had ever experienced compared to her. They weren’t bad people. I could’ve been really happy with many of them. But there was just no contest. And when I found her, I knew that. I guess that’s what they say about soul mates existing.” – J.L.

October

I have always loved October. I can guarantee you my naive affection for it was rooted in it being my birthday month. But wow.. It’s everything. It’s the Harvest Moons that frequent the sky. The unbearably sweet smell of the cold on skin. Necessary light jackets and scarves but the warmth of sunshine. Homecoming football games. Halloween.

I love them all.

And then there’s the Holiness of October. The month of the Holy Rosary. Breast Cancer Awareness. Feast Days of monumental saints like Therese, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Pope John Paul II. Underneath the exterior of the aforementioned worldly pleasures October, there is so much prayer. Souls on fire for our God, our Saints, our loved ones.

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I am so happy I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

Do we even know who, if anyone, said that? Most attribute it to William Shakespeare, which obviously makes it automatically profound, but it was probably Marilyn Monroe. Or Bob Marley. Any one of those insightful sonofaguns. Either way, I think it’s in the top 10 most cliche pieces of advice I’ve ever received. And while it resonates in a really doom way, I don’t think that expectation is what leads us to disappointment. Rather, I don’t think disappointment is a direct product of expecting. Because that’s not what we’re doing when we get our hopes up; Expecting is an anxiety driven need to predict. Hoping for something is not expecting.

I think that often times, hope and wishing is the romantic in us that says “It should be like this. This is how it’s supposed to be.” But something I’ve learned (without question the hard way) is that supposed to be isn’t real. There is no such thing. The only consistency that we found ‘supposed to be’ on is what we’ve assumed to be the most ideal. What works for us in the moment. But nothing is ever certain, and life rarely plays out the way we thought it would. Half of the time, we’ve never even experienced the supposed to be’s that our hearts desire. So how do we know? We can’t. And that’s where disappointment burns hot.

In all of this “revelation”, my solution is not to bury the flames with realism and neglect of our romantic human nature. Instead, I put my faith in God’s will. It is no less romantic to trust that an incredible fate is constantly being determined by something so much greater. His will is the only supposed to beAnd in that leap of faith, disappointment is far more likely smothered.

Be leary of Opinionated Priests

Periodically, I set up a meeting with a priest from my parish. Our visits can go either direction. Sometimes it’s in the realm of spiritual guidance, other times it’s just discussion. Frankly, he’s not that great at the former. He’s not certified in spiritual guidance (although I don’t even know the actual requirements for this, I’ve just been told that) but it’s pretty self explanatory when I leave our meetings either immensely discouraged or feeling on top of the world.

Today is a discouraged day. That’s the funny thing about priests. While they are wise men, they are not always right and they are not always nice.

Today, Father left me with a claim that I can’t seem to get behind. He told me “Good friends are a dime a dozen. You won’t remember anyone in your life today 20 years from now. Then none of this will actually matter.” And when I expressed sadness at the thought of that, he gave me a peculiar look and asked “Why?”

Why, Father? Because I’ve lived my life surrounded by imperfect people, but I still love them. Sometimes an excruciating amount. And while that can be attributed to my immense capability to love and forgive, I believe that the few and loveliest I’ve managed to keep in my life are worth loving through the impossible times. They are good and bring my joy. And I can not manage my life without them. I can not imagine not knowing them in 20 years. The idea of losing them so completely is devastating. Yes, some of them may drift and not come back, but is that any reason not to foster and keep them right now?

This led me to thinking about my weekend. One of my oldest friends is having a baby girl (literally today!) and a group of us got together to celebrate with her family. Here we are:

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This group of young ladies have been together for years. We sat at the table and individually accounted how long we had known one another, and each of us varied, but all connected somewhere in the middle eventually. The shortest time was 7 years. And each time we get together, there is so much joy and laughter and healthy nostalgia. “Don’t be sad it’s over, be glad it happened” completely exemplified.

Don’t tell me that relationships like that are a dime a dozen. That any of our lives are not made better because we love each other and come together when it matters most despite coming from dozens of different phases in our lives. As mothers, sisters, classmates, it does not matter. Real friendship endures. And while it has had its imperfections, it is worth a hell of a lot.