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Why Here?


Why Here?

You know me and my erratic blogging habits. A burst of creativity–a month or two of weekly or even bi-weekly blogging and then…silence. The occasional spat of posts here and there. An update. A thought.

I’ve been away from the blog, but I’ve been writing like a lunatic, as you'll know if you happen to be one of the five people who follow the excerpts I post on Facebook periodically. Each Saturday, I catch the 7am bus to Chestnut Hill Coffee and scribble in a cheap composition book until my hand cramps or my brain curls up, whichever happens first.

If customers’ shoes are an indication of economic status, I wager I’m the least affluent person in the shop–minus that guy who disembarks from the same bus I do whose pale belly is always peeking out from the bottom of his t-shirt. But for $2.11 apiece, the baristas at Chestnut Hill will make us both monarchs for a day. With $2.11, I can get a cup of more-than-decent coffee and three hours of quiet at a table by a many-paned window that looks out onto a cobblestone street. Now that’s luxury.

When I get home from writing, we have lunch and then Josh descends to the basement to work on his piano curriculum. Marshall fuddles about the kitchen while I do the dishes and make tea. If he hasn’t had a nap yet, I’ll put him to bed. Otherwise, I’ll settle in the blue recliner we hauled from the trash and try to read while Marshall brings me blocks and puzzle pieces and tries to convince me that he should be squirming in my lap.

The work week is pretty busy. Up at 5:30am–exercise, shower, feed Marshall bananas, cheerios, and eggs. Out the door by 6:40. Home at 6pm three days a week; home at 3pm for the other two. Sweeping, cooking, cleaning, laundry. And dishes and more dishes. Always dishes. Marshall hanging onto my pants and begging me with his baby signs for cheerios as I do more dishes. Marshall stopping and glancing quizzically at the door when he hears the bark of our new neighbor’s golden retriever.

“Doggy?” he asks, pointing.

“Yes, doggy. What sound does a doggy make?”

“Woof woof.”

And Marshall bumping his head or stubbing his toe; Mama or Dada holding him while great big crocodile tears roll down his cheeks. Marshall climbing up on the kitchen table and me pulling him down for the millionth time. Marshall splashing his hand in the toilet water if I forget to close the bathroom door.

And Josh cooking a fancy-ish supper on Friday nights. Playing Carcassonne or Dominion after Marshall goes to bed. Drinking our homemade pour over and dreaming and scheming about that mystical far off day when our school debt will be gone and we can afford a Friday-night babysitter.

Then there’s Sunday. We sleep in until 7am (yes, with a toddler, that’s sleeping in). Josh descends again to prepare for piano lessons later in the day and I cook a leisurely breakfast.  And then–after a diaper change–we’re off to church, one of the few churches that doesn’t make us perpetually wrack our brains to figure out why we go.

Still, I spend the service wondering why we’re here. I’m just a chronic brain-wracker, I guess. Why here and not at a book club? Why here and not at a soup kitchen? Why here and not at home making love? Why here and not at a desk exegeting Hebrew? Why here and not in my neighbor’s kitchen? Why here and not at a social justice protest? Why here and not at a poetry slam? Why here and instead of in a lab doing research?

I know the answer, of course–the answer I would give anyone who asked me about going to church. No doubt I would say something about confession and communion, those things you can’t do alone or anywhere else but church. I would say something about how the liturgy reorients us to the divine and reminds us that this sacred day of rest echoes and celebrates the seventh day of creation when God rested–that is, took up his throne. I would say something about the day reminding us that Jesus is king,  not just of this day, but of history, of the whole world.

I would probably say something like that.

Still–as I get up from the rail, Body and Blood still stinging my tongue, and glance at the stained-glass Jesus above me breaking bread with the two travelers he met on the road to Emmaus–I wonder, “Why here?”