It may be alright with me that I’ll always struggle. I may be the kind of person who needs to struggle.
I look at my “category” list here on this blog and I realize the choices I’ve made there are deliberate, things that describe me and that frankly, I want to describe me.
growing up catholic
I want doctrine or at least I want a little bit of doctrine. I want to know it and understand it. I’d love to agree with it wholeheartedly but I’m certain this won’t always be the case.
Family brings up strange feelings in me. As a kid what seemed to define us most apart from the discord was the face that we were Catholic. Our family while mostly unrooted emotionally was at least rooted in being Catholic. Now, I don’t know what keeps my made family rooted…my husband, my children and myself…art perhaps, deep faith, respect and truth and beauty. I wonder if we’ll be rooted as a family in Orthodoxy, I hope so.
I’ve got a blood sugar issue and it has always been the thing that stops me from fasting. For me it’s like running. I admire people who run and I always think it’d be an easy and convenient form of exercise for me but then as soon as I start I regret it. I’m huffing and puffing, I’m achy, I’m tired. I so want to be a runner, I truly do. I just don’t seem to get the motivation to keep at it and build up the practice.
Growing up Catholic…in some ways I will always be Catholic. You can’t take the “Catholic” out of the person in my estimation. I’m okay with that, truly. I loved being Catholic. My Catholic friends wonder why I’m not anymore, why I don’t just go back. It’d be easier, that’s for sure. It’s a little like asking why I don’t just move back in with my family in Cincinnati. They know me, they’d take me in, it’s familiar. Still, it feels like a step backward not forward, which is a crazy thing to say since I’m now converting to a tradition that feels even older and in some ways more backward when held up against the modern mirror.
I fancy myself a mystic. About 90% of each day I pay no attention to this thought but that other 10% I truly fancy myself a mystic. I notice something, I hear something, I think something, I pray something…usually in 10-30 second increments…and then I write it down. It reminds me of this deeper thing, a deeper truth. I need this deeper truth to live. It’s as if I remember about 10% of each day that I need oxygen to live and that the oxygen is present. It may be more a function of noticing than anything. Noticing…and giving thanks and honor. I think that’s it.
Practice makes perfect…or it doesn’t. In my case I believe the practice of Orthodoxy makes at the very least for some comfort. Practice makes for containment and I need to be contained. Practice places God outside my head even as it tucks Him into my soul-sick heart. Practice knits all things between me and the Liturgy tight, drawn together, feeding the mystic through the quotidian. In this light, seeing Practice this way, makes me eager to pray, eager to attend Liturgy, eager to greet God in the sign of the Cross and the veneration of Icons. Here’s where I breathe that heavy sigh and am tempted to launch back into Struggle but I won’t. I’ll let that air breathe here, let the shame of where I fail in practice sink into the sand. Practice makes practice. It is its own reward.
Struggle…and full circle.
I may be the sort who will always struggle. It may be that I will always crave struggle, always need it, always want it even as I rail against it, even as I write about it and whine about it and let loose the “f” bomb in response to it but I will never wish it away. I know this about me. I will not wish it away. Struggle is how I know I’m worth fighting for, how I know I’m still breathing, how I know what comes next is valuable and true. Good things might come to those who wait but those who struggle in the waiting truly know the worth of those things. I think this is right.