Sunday, June 15, 2008

Falling Away

I'm giving up for now. I can't go to church. It's part decision and part fait accompli. But somehow it's good to admit it for now.

I work on Sundays. My schedule prevents me from going to the Mass I've always gone to. OK, that's not so bad. But my schedule actually prevents me from attending any of the services in the summer. I could -I really could- go to church in Aurora or Naperville, close to where I work. I kept saying I was going to try that, but somehow it never happened.

I tried all sorts or arguments with myself. I miss liturgy, I said to myself. Maybe I do. That's certainly something that Catholics say, and I'm sure they mean it. I'm not so sure it's the driving force for me, although I vastly prefer the Catholic liturgy over the Protestant version. I told myself that I needed the community -except I feel very little sense of community when I'm there. I even tried telling myself that Dave will be back soon, and I need to stake the Newman Center out as my turf. Oh for heaven's sakes. Fortunately for my self-esteem, that wasn't motivating either.

Here's the thing. There are people from church I don't want to lose. (Mike, are you paying attention?) But the parish itself is in a bit of a quagmire. There are times in a church's life-history and a parish's life-history when parishioners have to suck it up and wait for the good times to return. Catholics are used to taking the long view on this; things change at a fairly glacial pace and we're used to that.

When you're at your personal best - or even at equilibrium- you can wait. But I am so very far from that. Church -not the people, but the experience of being church together- is so much less than I need it to be. It's so much less than it's capable of being. It's just another disappointing relationship.

Of course, the negative self-talk starts immediately. A good person would value the relationship enough to stick it out through the bad times, I maintain. Of course, I could just be projecting from one relationship to another. Or, on the other hand, maybe I'm learning from one bad relationship and applying it to another! And, if you remove yourself from the pews and the collection basket, then you lose your ability to facilitate change. I've said that often enough, and it's true. But I just don't have enough energy to tend to being a change agent for the entire bloody church!

Here's my argument -for now. In a real community, people cycle in and out of being the needy one and being the supportive one. Everyone, no matter how needy, has gifts to offer. Everyone, no matter how gifted and energetic, has places of brokenness and abject neediness. A true community lets that be fairly fluid; people give and take as they need. If someone takes too much or gives too much (the more common mistake, as it happens) eventually someone notices and there is a gentle challenge to bring the system back to balance.

That process has been subverted. Somehow, we lost our sense of living community. I have been, historically speaking, one of the community nurturers. And recently, I haven't had the energy to hide my brokenness. But when I thought I literally couldn't survive, I didn't feel like the community was there for me. A few individuals were splendidly, blessedly there, but that's not quite what I mean.

So, in some ways, I don't mind skipping church on Sundays. Yet, I need to admit that that's what I'm doing. It's not a scheduling thing- or not solely a scheduling thing, anyway. I can't do it right now. It needs too much from me, and I jsut plain don't have the energy to spare. This relationship, at least, needs to have an honest breakup.

1 comment:

kristinroach said...

Oh that is so hard. It's taken me a long time to say that I'm okay with not going to church. I always try to act like I will go "someday" or try to make it there "this weekend" or is it "next weekend". It almost gave me a feeling of breaking up with someone, I suppose that community, when I finally admitted that church wasn't the healthiest thing for me.

And I'm totally curious about this button project you mentioned, pictures pictures!