At 4 o’clock in the morning, all your stuff is monster-truck heavy and flashing-red important. Then, after the sun stops being polite – on days you get sun – and charges heavy like judgment into your room to rouse you, the existential weight of your to-do list trades places with your limbs and amounts to a paper towel. Which has as much self-locomoting power as you do about now, anxiety having gulped down all your validate-your-existence energy for the tasks of phone calls, folding socks, scanning and digitizing old journals and bloodletting…er, writing.
So maybe you stay in bed till 11:00, smearing your erstwhile blemish-free cheek into the pillow now veneered with oil from your hair. You can still get some stuff done from there, like finish listening to heartbreaking but vital interviews with your favorite writer rather than do writing of your own because of the seething abyss of dread that you’ll never be effective enough at connecting with readers the way you want nothing more than to do and can’t find the ability to do. You also maybe made a few phone calls – or the same one over and over because the mailbox was full and they have no way of knowing you called – but by now, the morning is too close to completion to write and you’re not going to get much of the nothing you were beaten repeatedly by angst and its gang of nay-saying self-loathers about doing a few hours earlier anyway.
But the thing about discipline you yourself wrote but two days ago. And actually, life’s thrown a bone – as opposed to the crumbs you might be used to – and made it easy for you. The church you are attending is…soothingly intentional. About Scripture study. About worship. About reconciliation of long-gripped berms between races, genders, income levels and whatever other sludge we’ve gotten distracted enough by to forgo actually working together to stitch this falling world.
Last night, the tag team of leaders of the Bible study we’ve been attending opened our time together by asking for feedback. They then passed paper around for anyone too shy to speak in public. I have never studied the Bible in such a diverse setting before; the Sermon on the Mount has never roared so Technicolor in my face until now. This weekend, a soft, sweet couple at our church is hosting a film festival at their house – seven films over three days, each from/made by/about a different country. This is the same church that organized a discount for folks to go see Selma together last month. There’s always space to discuss after events like this.
I’ll be playing saxophone this Sunday, maybe, and soloing at the Easter service even though I’ve been around for, comparatively, five minutes. This happened because the administrator of this church took our Newcomer’s Card and called me a few weeks ago to check in, see if I had any questions or specific interests in areas to plug in. That intentionality, though. I mean, that’s just never happened to me before and normally, the phone fills me with more angst than an unfinished to-do list at 4:00 a.m. that I don’t ever answer it unless it’s someone I know who never calls me or it’s a planned ‘hangout’ with a friend. But I answered this time and talked to this genuinely joyful woman for over an hour.
Of course, I was stupefyingly self-conscious about it afterwards. Because I like to ruin good things before I have them taken from me, I guess. Like with my hesitancy to declare the balm this church has been to me already and how…I don’t know, is happy actually the word here?…I am at this place, now. So self, maybe you could shelve the what-if hamster wheel, or at least grease it so it’s a bit quieter?, and just say, “Hey, God, New Church. Thanks.” You might connect with one or both in ways you want nothing more than to do but fear you can’t. Oh, you might sleep better, too. Thanks.