Friday, October 16, 2009

I'd still take the coffee

I am once again at a point in my life where belief in God is scarce, not as something I have lost sight of or turned against, but has become irrelevant, like a project fretted about in sophomore year biology. This is not the first time I've encountered spiritual difference from those nearby, but certainly is the first indifference, not wounded by, but merely separated from the community I love whom I experience as The Church. It doesn't sting like it did in college, and I don't feel heavy with the weight of sticking up for the voices and people I love in a context I find suffocating as I once did.

I remember one day at my college chapel (which I miss dearly and think of with fondness especially as the leaves change this year) listening to a rather fiery sermon. It was raining outside, a grey, persistent kind of thing, but uncomfortably stuffy inside, or perhaps it was the pastor's bold invitation to step up in our generation and stand accountable and furthermore to be present and engaged spiritually in that very moment or to get up and leave. There in the middle of the sour-smelling dampness and the loud bright words piped from the microphones and through the speakers hanging from the walls, I walked out. And I found a surprisingly pleasant, almost amused feeling blossoming in my chest. I didn't feel rebellious; I felt relieved. I walked out of the heavy damp, and into the drizzling, breezy air and inhaled. If God is anywhere, God is here, too, I remember thinking and bought myself a cup of coffee to savor.

That day I might have walked onto the streets of Seattle, land of eternal breezy, drizzly openness and a million cups of coffee. I am in no way attempting to glorify this city as a spiritual haven; even here in a liberal paradise, appropriately rare are those who care truly for The Other, especially if that other is a Christian or misses Sarah Palin. Rather that Seattle has been a place of spiritual rest for me and that I've been crisis-free (spiritually, that is) for almost a year now. So here we are.

I have, however, been more consistently anxious and depressed. If you are a Christian, you might be tempted to draw some quick conclusions, but I immediately look elsewhere to determine why I'm 'off'. And whether or not I identify as a follower of anything but the seasons, I don't choose to draw any conclusions at all. Nothing is for certain.

That's why it was a pleasant surprise to stumble across Kathleen Norris' Cloister Walk this morning, and reflect over the year that I've been here and the changes that have taken place in my day-to-day life. Cloister Walk is, as far as I can tell so far, a personal account of one woman's stay at a monastery and how it shaped her routine and thus her outlook on the rest of life. Even the first several pages read like a song, and I drank it like wine (that is, slowly to savor, of course). It's hard to make sense of; I read the psalms feeling cheap, hear the words of of Scripture told in a sermon and think: I'm over it. But for the first time in my life, I read the order for a monastic life and it looks like that rainy street, a window out of my anxiety. A routine in which work, study and play are intrinsically good. Just something to ponder this weekend.

I got called in to sub at a preschool today. Did I ever mention that? I got hired as a sub. Its something to start with- And we sit inside under multi-colored twinkle lights wearing slippers and baking bread, and then don our galoshes and hats to build pirate ships in the rain.