Thursday, December 24, 2009

peace and darkness

Tonight is Christmas Eve. We are being smattered by pouring rain, while in the states south of us there are tornado watches, and over a foot of snow in Oklahoma. Even Texas will get a white Christmas.

I went to a candlelight service at a nearby church that I hadn't been to before. Since we moved here I've been intermittently attending a nondenominational "mega-church." Not much like me, considering that I was raised in what seems to be one of the most oppressive Protestant religions around. I won't name the church, because it already seems to be having enough trouble with the congregation without me helping it along.

The service wasn't exactly my idea of a candlelight service. I mean, they did light candles, but they kept the lights on. So it was hard for me to really focus on the service as I like to do when I attend these sort. I had too many distractions: holes in each of the big toes of my socks where I could feel them poking through, like a loose tourniquet (poor choice in socks--what was I thinking?); the headache I've had all day that Advil won't alleviate; my eyes going spazzy from the overhead lights, needing to constantly look down and not be able to watch the pastor speak, feeling rude; being tired from the end of a long day preparing for the big family meal tomorrow, mixing up desserts, vacuuming, scrubbing down bathroom walls.

I'd like so much to find peace and God in a church, but my body distracts me from it. I would think that most people, as they get older, tend to enjoy longer sermons. I've never asked anybody this question, but I would think that older people would be more patient with a long-winded pastor. But not me. The older I get, the more I want to get out. No, that's wrong. What I mean is that I love to listen to the teachings--I could listen all day--but the damn eyes won't let me just sit there and listen quietly. And even the noise from a crying baby makes it hard for me to stare straight. They seem to have a mind of their own lately.

I find more peace in my car, driving in the dark late at night when the roads are empty, than anywhere else. Tonight while I was heading home, the rain was coming down hard and my brights were on. I suddenly came upon a possum walking across the road. I was probably 8 feet away when I actually saw it. The little guy kept strutting along as if he didn't notice the large machine bearing down on him. That's one of those major decisions in life that are not very fair--where there is no turning back if you are wrong, yet you aren't given enough time to figure out the correct course of action. And I was wrong. Hoping he would stop walking and move safely through the underside of my car as I drove over him, I hit the brakes just slightly in order to give him a little more time to get between the wheels. But it didn't work, and I could feel the car slice into him as I rolled over his body with my right front tire. I cupped my hand over my mouth and tensed up. The thought went through my mind that possums are unfriendly creatures and hiss and bite when people come near, just for a split second, maybe as if to unconsciously exonerate myself from the murder of this animal. I drove most of the way home in a state of very little movement. What small amount of peace that I may have found in church while singing Christmas carols and taking communion was gone.

My only resort tonight is to go into the dark to find the calming love of Christ. We originated from the dark--the earth, our bodies, our knowledge--and we will someday return to it in death. It is in the dark where rest and growth occurs. And it is in this restful place where I will go when I need to be moved.


walk2write said...

Don't feel too bad about things. I never feel very spiritual in a church, probably because it's an artificial "set" or prop for the real thing--true worship that takes place (you're right) during those moments in the dark when we're alone with our thoughts and free to question God and listen for his response. As for the possum, he probably froze like a possum should, and short of stopping the car and physically moving him out of the way, there was no way you could have anticipated his location.

Clementine Moonflower said...

I used to feel closer to God in church; funny, that was only when the chapel was empty and quiet. It felt almost eerie in a way. Thanks for your kind words. It always ruins my day when I hit an animal while driving.

Anonymous said...

Y'all both misspelled "possum." (I know, on purpose.)

Deer are a major highway obstruction here. And a costly one.

Life is full of those too.

And don't feel bad about your church experience, at least your socks were holy, which were connected to your feet, which kind of filtered some holiness up to the rest of you.

(Nice seein you here Ms. I.)

Clementine Moonflower said...

Thanks for the spellcheck! I'm normally more careful about those things :-)

That was the best laugh I've had in awhile! It was more like a chortle!

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