It took a solid 36 miserable hours on antibiotics before I began to feel marginally human again. For the record, I still have some discomfort whilst swallowing, so this strep was no joke.
Yet Miss L & I soldiered on and salvaged some of our weekend. On Good Friday, we typically bake something, and plant some seeds, and do a bit of early spring clean up. Yeah, none of that happened. But on Saturday, we did our annual pilgrimage to Kensington to see the new babies at the farm, and have a bit of a ramble on the nature trails.
There is a little island in the middle of a lake where the Great Blue Herons have their nests. It’s pretty amazing, even at a distance, to watch them come and go; I always wish I’d remembered to bring binoculars.
And then on Easter Sunday – despite feeling drained and wan with fatigue – I went to church. YES I WENT TO CHURCH.
***DISCLAIMER – IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY RELIGIOUS FRANKNESS, PLEASE STOP READING SO WE CAN STAY FRIENDS***
I am not a religious person in any way, shape or form. Under generous circumstances, I might be termed spiritual, but I can’t put a definition to what I believe. I just know I believe it, if it makes any sense. I tend to be a bit suspicious of organized religion in any form, although some aspects of it appeal to me – the traditions, the old-fashioned aspects of storytelling and mysticism, old hymns, whatnot. I haven’t been to church in over twenty years, but when Jax invited me to Easter service at his church, I decided to say yes. I didn’t even know what religion he is, but I was touched that he would want to include me in that part of his life, and it’s clearly important to him.
I was envisioning ponderous but lovely Latin hymns and a measured sermon in an old brick chapel covered with ivy, sunlight streaming in through jeweled stained-glass windows. I thought a dress would be most appropriate, but all I have are tailored black and grey numbers for work, or summer dresses. So I threw my capsule closet rules to the wind and went out and bought a navy blue and white number with a slightly full skirt, to be worn under my navy cardigan with my navy blue platform heels. It felt very Junior League but my impressions of Easter services involve pastels and white gloves and big hats and matching purses, and this was as close of an approximation as I could muster with limited time. (Yes, I will be getting rid of the requisite 2 items from my closet to make up for this.)
Jax looked very handsome in dress pants and a tasteful Brooks Brothers shirt and I was slightly agog with anticipation. When we walked into his church, however, it became clear that my expectations were completely off-base. It was essentially an auditorium, darkened but with flashing lights up at the front and a LIVE ROCK BAND. There was a drummer behind a glass window and three singers gyrating and singing a pop song into microphones. There were guitars and video screens showing lyrics and women wearing skinny jeans in the pews holding their hands up and dancing and singing along. It was all quite astounding and I felt ridiculously fanciful in my Junior League outfit.
It was an utterly mind-blowing experience. I tried to hum along and look interested and attentive, although on the inside I was slack-jawed with shock and horror. And then when the singing was over I tried to relax and enjoy the sermon, which was about hope in the face of suffering. Then there was some mention of Satan, and I felt my cheerful optimism begin to fade again. And then the pastor said that when it comes to Jesus, you either completely reject him or you fall on your face worshipping him as your savior. Too many people, he said, take the middle road; they might not totally believe, but they’re okay with Jesus, they can take him or leave him. MAYBE EVEN SOME PEOPLE IN THIS CHURCH TODAY, he said, and I felt the cold sweat that had broken out all over me during the singing begin to prickle again. I know my eyes were the size of teacups. Am I so wrong? NO, I don’t 100% believe. I have doubts. I like the basic messages and feel that they are beautiful stories, but am greatly troubled by the forms that organized religion of all forms can take. I would be interested in the Bible from a historic perspective, and I could probably really get absorbed in the Gospel of Thomas. More than that, though – well, I just I can’t attend a church that forces me to attest to believing in things that I don’t totally know if I believe – and that’s what’s kept me away for twenty years. I have no beef with Jesus. But, in the words of a pretty awesome Criminal podcast that I listened to, when asked why he selected a Buddha statue over a Jesus statue for a specific purpose that you will learn about in the podcast, if you choose to listen, the subject of the podcast said, “(Buddha), he’s neutral. I mean, if we threw Christ up there, he’s controversial. Everyone’s got a deal about him. But Buddha – nobody seems to be that perturbed in general about a Buddha.”
Of course, I didn’t tell Jax about my discomfort. If he asks again, I will try to explain it to him; I still think it’s pretty great that he invited me to the service and we spent a really nice Sunday in the sunshine afterwards. But I don’t know if I’ll go back. In many ways, I still feel that my way of spending Easter – with lambs and birds and rambles – is just a better fit for me.