my gifts

I'm filing receipts this morning. Groceries, doctor bills. Noting the bulk of half a year's exchange and thinking, as I do each July, I ought to realign my file cabinet's metal divider. But I'm reluctant to make room for further spendage. Of course, life's portions are meant to go out, to be consumed. Then, when time allows, recording and review can happen.

The files in my psyche get paged through, as well, sorted, shuffled, browsed, explored. These inner containers hold gems that have long deserved to catch some light, so I'll lift one or two toward the window.

I grew up a preacher's daughter. My heritage, Protestant, our denomination an offshoot, sort of, from Presbyterianism. The year I turned 14 we left a church. It was the second time heavy-duty emotional things -- human things -- happened in a church setting that caused pain to our family. Big-time confusion. My dad's a nice guy. Why should anyone criticize their nice preacher, especially when he was my dad?

Two decades later, when my brother got married in that same church, I began to recognize how many memories about it I had stuffed away...

Behind the kitchen in sixth grade, after Mike Beckham put his sweaty arm around my shoulders, wondering if he would kiss me. Nervous thrills keeping score for Dad when he coached the boys' slowpitch softball team. The duet Lannae Gordon and I sang in front of the whole congregation about the Man from Galilee.

Perhaps remembering served more than one purpose. I was back in touch, from an adult perspective, with stuff I had been through. Also, though, I could admit there was this hole in my life, this deficit in my being, from a chapter with a negative end. I could taste the bitter along with the sweet. I could understand more of what I was about. Finally I could say, no, really, I don't like this sort of event; I'll do my best, thank you very much, to shut this possibility out of my future.

Basically, for me, it meant I could leave any church situation that proved to lack a desire for depth of understanding of real things.

So, in 2000, I did. It seemed at that time as though I filed away the entire standard world of Christian practice, finally able to say to that world, hey, I still believe in Christ. I just don't get why you're blindly following traditions and not focusing on that Man.

A hole existed, a bottomless file. But I acknowledged it, was even grateful for it, and puttered along just fine.

Which is why I never dreamed you'd see me darkening the door of an Orthodox church with any drop of willingness to go in. Yet the other morning at 6:30 I entered St. John's for a Liturgy (like Catholic Mass, only weirder), and in the church I picked up the continuing journey that doesn't end when I leave.

At the center of the ceremony, of the Church, there remains Christ. At least, as close as I have come to experiencing that Man with all my senses. The bitter and the sweet.

Back home toasting my rice bread and getting ready for work, I remained cautious but optimistic that this time of experience, rather than a hiding and a filing away, is an actual gift and filling of a huge particular deficit in me.

Comments

Verna Wilder said…
Deanna, I feel so happy to have found your writing! You commented on one of Beth's posts, and so I looked you up. I like your writing very much, and you invite me into a world I turned my back on many years ago - Christianity. Your writing invites me in, and I'm willing to go. Thank you for that. I look forward to reading more.
Deanna said…
Hi, Verna. Thanks for reading and commenting. I only lurked at your blog yesterday (well, I was at work), but I'm glad to have found you, too. Beth is great at connecting us writers of the blogs. I'll return soon to yours.
deb Colarossi said…
oh, I'd love to talk IRL about this. Although I am not learned in any way at all. at all.
but my soul gets this. attending mass with my soon to be husband, was just the it for me, it really was.

although , in all honesty I haven't been to our local parish church in forever. I'll use the excuse that it's terribly overcrowded , but it's more than that.
I love playing matchmaker to some of my favorite people and blog "thought leaders."

Deanna? God-shaped hole, maybe. Deficit? I don't believe it.