thin.

Stack

Stack by Kate Andrews. Happy Shrove Tuesday!

I have only been to church once since Christmas Eve. There was snow and then Atticus and I am finally just at the point where I recognize the days of the week again. This past Sunday I stayed on the couch in my pajamas. It was raining. Atticus took a three-hour nap. I have no complaints.

Because of my removal from the world, I have been only vaguely aware that Lent was approaching. I have not spent a lot of time preparing. Am I allowed to say that I think I will give up sleeping through the night and all rights to my body? That would make me the queen of spiritual discipline, yes? Having given up rights to my body for, oh, about a year now?

I have heard people describe new-parenthood as one of the thin places of the world where the ordinary and the divine are right up against each other. They talk about middle-of-the-night prayers and the closeness of God carrying them through the haze of sleeplessness. For many people, it is reminiscent of the incarnation: the birth of a child makes for holiness drawn near. Perhaps that is why people seem to look back on it so fondly.

I have not prayed in the middle of the night. I do not pray much at all anymore. I have lived in the ordinary with no hint of the divine for a long time, faking it with no sign of making it. While I want to immerse Atticus in the beautiful stories and language of the Bible, at this point it is mostly because those things have been a huge part of my life and not because I know what to do with them anymore. I am unwilling to let that part of my life go, but I am no longer sure what it means.

Perhaps it is my own fault: my unreasonable expectations, my inability to get over some great disappointments. I no longer know what would be an adequate prayer, what would curry God’s favor or bend God’s ear in my direction. I can get on board with the idea that God, like Aslan, is not safe, but good. If God’s thoughts and ways are not like ours, it is understandable that things don’t turn out like we’d want. But I miss having a safe place to turn with my fear and doubt. I wish I thought that someone cared about my disappointments as more than just a means to some kind of redemptive end. More than anything, I wish I had been created differently, with more faith and fewer questions. With more sugar and less vinegar.

I have grown slowly into this place over several years. I don’t know where I am heading from here, only that I will move forward as I know that I cannot go back. I don’t know when I will make it back to church, and I am hesitant to take on much of anything. But I want to spend some time during Lent facing up to some of these hard questions rather than wishing them away. Besides, Lent seems like a time when the veil separating us from the holy might be very thin, indeed.

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