This has been a very strange day – the kind of day that’s likely to come up in my dreams - as some peculiar reordering of real life, a metaphorical rendering of real experiences, a dream that only makes sense to me because only I can connect the dots between the real and the nocturnal rendering of the same.
It's the brain’s way of processing life events that are too big or bizarre to neatly tuck away in existing brain files.
Or maybe it’s the kind of day that will end up in an article somewhere down the line as I share about how the Sacrament of Reconciliation is sometimes a little like having food poisoning. Just get it out, all of it out of the system. Tell yourself that you’ll never indulge in that again as long as you live. And when it’s all over, and you’re surprised you survived, you realize how good it feels to be healthy again. Alive. Kneeling, as grace returns like a cool wet cloth on your forehead. And you’re ready for Mass, so you can receive holy food, something that sustains and renews, something that brings life and light.
Yes, we went to Saturday evening Mass, where I received two Sacraments. And it was amazing. Completely amazing.
And then, we went into the city to attend the retirement celebration of my husband’s childhood pastor. More than a childhood pastor. He was John’s pastor for almost thirty years. The only pastor he knew before entering the Catholic Church.
That’s not unusual, I suppose. But the pastor’s two children shared some memories from over the years, memories of what it’s like to be a preacher’s kid, the radical change that comes when a preacher-dad steps away from pastoral ministry. How hard that is.
And suddenly, I’m that preacher’s kid. I’ve stood in that place. I have known what it is like to have all of your faith and faith experiences wrapped up in Dad. And to have it end. A real identity crisis for the whole family.
What church do we call our own now? What comes next? If every life event up ‘til this point has been built on this foundation, how do we begin to have new memories, ones that don’t include this church or Dad’s role as pastor?
Our friends and our parents’ friends are here. Our definition of faith was formulated here. Our memories – thirty years of them – were made right here.
Now, we are wondering where to go to church next week. And we know -- the pastor there won’t preach anything like Dad. Nobody can preach like Dad does. And we won’t know what to do when we don’t have labels to wear. Preacher’s wife. Preacher’s daughter. Preacher’s son.
And maybe that’s because it wasn’t meant to be like this. Maybe there is a faith community that has no boundaries. You go to France, and that is your church home. Or Japan. Or the Netherlands. Or Uruguay. And your church is there.
Because your church is The Church, and she is everywhere.
Maybe there is a church that doesn’t have a beginning or ending or labels that wear out. Laity remains laity. Clergy remains clergy. And those things define who you are for as long as you live – and even into eternity.
Yes, I think this day will come back to me again. In a dream. Or an article. Or a memory that comes to me while I’m waiting in line or waiting for my grandchild to be born or waiting for the storm to pass over.
Much to process here.
Sacramental grace that reminds me how beautiful my new Home is. And a dinner later that night - that reminds me of how transient life can seem when it is built on something else. Anything else – except the Rock.