Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Two Me's

I had a great day today!

First, we went to church (more on that later), and since this was the last Sunday of the month, the choir, which I am in, performed at both services. Since it's Memorial Day, the band, which DH is in, also played with us. We did a beautiful arrangement of Battle Hymn of the Republic, with an a capella verse by the men in four-part harmony, that was just breathtaking. We actually got a standing ovation when we finished, at both services. We go to a fairly large church, with about 350 people combined at the services, so it was really exciting to get an ovation!!! That's never happened before, not even at Christmas, so it was totally cool.

Then we went out to lunch at Longhorn, and I had an amazingly good Seven Pepper Steak salad, with blue cheese, my favorite. After that, since it's at the outlet mall, we stopped into the Plow and Hearth outlet and I got a present for my mother for Mother's Day, which I told her I already had but couldn't find in the boxes, oops. Hey, at least I'm sending her something, right?

Then, best of all, I spent the rest of the afternoon gardening. Yesterday, I was at Lowes, and made the most amazing score at their Dead and Dying clearance area! They had about eight portable racks, each about six feet high, completely stocked with plants marked $.50 apiece! After a little pawing through things, I got eighteen large geraniums, twelve six-packs of impatiens seedlings, a Gerbra daisy plant, three large hanging baskets of snapdragons, and eight quart-sized draping something-or-others-that-look-like-petunias-but-aren't, for $25!!! There is NOTHING wrong with almost all of these plants, except that they weren't being watered properly and/or they weren't blooming at the moment! The geraniums all have clusters of buds on them, and frankly, it takes a lot to kill a geranium. I mean, you have to TRY. I'm pretty sure nearly every single thing I bought is going to come back just fine, and I am going to have a kick-butt garden for under $30!!!! So, I planted all of that into the existing garden (which had already gone by, since it's mostly bulbs) and made a new garden strip along both sides of the walkway, mulched it all with everlasting-color mulch, weeded the garden that goes along the side of the house, mossed and mulched the vegetable garden, and cleaned up all the odds and ends that have been laying around, like shovels, toys, etc. Woohoo!!! Oh, it was truly my favorite kind of day.

To finish it up, we had pancakes, bacon and cherries for dinner (hey, it's protein, carbs, and fruit, right?), went to the park to release the koi that were living in the little water feature that used to be in the backyard when we bought the place (which had to go because of a) dogs and b)mosquitoes) into the pond there (it was that or certain death, so we opted for the wildlife replacement program), and then went to a local creamery for dessert. No one argued, no one whined, no one dropped their ice cream. It was a fabulous, rare treat of a day.

Now, about church.

I'm not entirely comfortable, still, going to church. As a thinking, well-educated person, I have serious questions and concerns about the Christian faith. However, I want to believe. I think it's important to have something to believe in. We had a guest speaker at our church awhile ago that summed up our choice to attend church very neatly; he said that as a learned man, after much consideration when he was younger, he simply chose to believe, and that faith means exactly that, choosing to believe what you cannot prove to be true. I say that to myself often when that voice comes up in my head that says 'what on EARTH are you doing here?! You were a Women's Studies minor, for crying out loud!' I know that several of my childhood friends, none of whom attend a church, are shocked and weirded out that we go, and I don't usually feel like it's anything I can discuss with my pre-small town life friends because of that. When I do, I feel like there are probably a lot of thoughts they're having that are similar to the ones in my own head that I'm trying to ignore in favor of something different.

There are other things that draw us to church, too, of course. It's a great way to meet people, and everything's free, basically. Being large as it is, our church has a LOT of social opportunities that we'd never get elsewhere, like music programs for adults and kids (both kids are in the choir and Josie is in the kids' bell choir), vacation camps, and basic camaraderie via adult classes and discussions. Most of our best friends in town have come from our Child Parent Relationships class that we take there, and they are honestly some of the best people I have ever met. There are picnics, trips, everything. Not to mention, in everyday literature and life, there are so many biblical references that it's helpful to have a background in Christianity in order to get the hidden meanings of things (as in, almost all the names of places and things in The Matrix are biblically based, for example, plus the obvious near-constant references by all the Big Literature books) Plus, the denomination we attend, First Christian Disciples of Christ, only has one requirement for membership - that you believe in Christ's teachings. That's pretty basic, and I can manage that, at least, easily. I'm working on the rest of it. Allowing myself to believe something, even something I want to believe in, that I have resisted all my life, isn't as easy as one would think, but I am choosing to do it.

As a result of this struggle, I feel like a fraud a lot of the time. My church friends don't know anything of my internal struggle, since it's not something I want to admit to people who seem to find belief so easy. I'm not pretending to them, but I'm not entirely honest, I suppose, either. With non-church friends, I feel like a sell-out. It's strange, and it makes me wish I thought about things less. Life would be a lot easier if I could just once simply go along with things and not try to reason them out!


Susiewearsthepants said...

I know exactly how you feel. I went through a period where I felt exactly the same way. Actually, before that I went through my "athiest" period. My family was shocked and appalled when I declared that I didn't believe in God. Looking back, I probably never should have mentioned it. People don't want to hear that someone doesn't believe or even that you have doubts. I have since changed my mind about God, however, I think it's normal to have doubts and questions. I too have felt like a sell out with certain situations. I felt guilty and hypocritical. This something that is personal for you and frankly, not any of anyone's business unless you CHOOSE to share. You will work this out for yourself either way. In the meantime, don't sweat the way you feel. I think it's normal.

Swistle said...

What a great day! I love when you get your big deals at Lowe's!

I do indeed feel weirded out by the church thing. I don't understand how it can be a good thing to deliberately override your logic sensors and the thinking, intelligent part of your brain, in favor of mythologies from the times before we knew about science and needed a way to explain why the sun came up and the plants grew. I'm also not keen on an institution that has been so insanely cruel and vicious to non-believers over the years: you almost can't find a more blood-filled history than the church's.

I do understand, though, about "church as social institution." I often wish I went to church because it's such a good way to be part of the community. But I'm not willing to do the logic/intelligence sacrifice required. I grew up with that crap and now it's repellent to me.

That doesn't mean I'm weirded out by YOU being a part of it, though. I'm just weirded out by the church itself, and...well, and by everyone who goes, so I guess you too a little, except that you "go" in a different way than a lot of people, and it's really those "lot of people" who weird me out.

Kristin.... said...

Your day sounds great.
I am not a church going person either. I was married in a church, but that's about the extent of it. It's funny you mention the community of church, because that's what sometimes makes me want to go back. We're relatively new to our town, so the idea of going to a church to make friends, etc. sounds lovely. When you don't go to church, explaining what it is to kids is tough. Then again, so is explaining God and that isn't high on my list of priorities right now either. When I was a kid I went to church and when I was a bit older I sometimes played the flute with the choir. I miss that aspect of it, but not the ideals behind it so much. So, I understand your push and pull with it. I don't begrudge those who go to church. I respect their feelings and beliefs. As long as they respect mine, we're ok.

Creative Kerfuffle said...

i thought i was the only one who was unsure about church. i have mixed feelings and don't understand so much about it. we've gone off and on but the church we went is full of old, old people. i still struggle w/ the idea of it. the church, not the old people.

littlehouse said...

I stumbled on your blog in my internet wandering and wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your post. I too am a reluctant(shhh) church goer. I am also an academic, feminist, activist, lefty... you get the idea.
I found my church home in the united church of Canada. embracing of diverse sexuality, seeking 'right relations', readdressing the narrow minded ideas and wrongs done, moving away from literal interpretations of theology, encouraging questions and debate, and exploring a radical, activist idea of 'christ'

now we live in another country and I feel so distanced from that community and don't do the church thing here because its so far removed from anything I can embrace!
So just this - don't stop questioning. Any church worth its slat will encourage it.

ok. essay over :) thanks for the good read. feel free to stop by and say 'hi'...