This morning I uncovered the real reason I waited so long to bring my children to Liturgy. Certainly, my long-held notion that I was still working it out for myself was spot on. I did want to get a feel of the flow, a lay of the land. That was not the only motivation though. This morning for whatever reason I was thinking about food. Maybe it’s because I’m fasting, sort of. Probably it’s because I’m parenting, always.
I was thinking about the flow of the meal, every meal. I’m cutting/chopping/cooking/cleaning and then I’m serving/circling/fielding criticisms of said meal and all the while shoveling food into my own mouth as I’m able. When all is said and done everyone gets up from the table and moves on to their own interests and I’m cleaning up.
This is the dynamic. It’s not one I like a whole lot and I am working on changing it up, I promise. As I think about it I don’t want that to be our family story about meals. I want things to look differently. I’m aiming for a little more leisure, a bit of conversation, some cooperation but it’ll take some time and slow, sure steps in that direction. I expect a lot of complaining in the process but at least I’ll have my sanity when it’s all over (in theory.)
The dynamic is what triggered Liturgy in my head this morning as I wiped down the table I neglected last night. I was too tired to do it and I was mindfully ignoring it too. “Let someone else do it if they want it done” was the thinking. Not a terribly good attitude, I’ll admit…I am working on it, I promise.
And then I realized as I scrubbed at the dried milk that parenting during Liturgy is like this. I need to eat too. I want the experience to look and feel a certain way but it just doesn’t, not right now. Right now it’s rushed and it’s desperate and I have the nagging feeling that I’m doing it wrong, always doing it wrong. The interesting part is that for that year during which I attended Liturgy alone I was still desperate, still rushed, still feeling like I was doing it wrong. All this time I’ve been living under the delusion that somehow being alone in the experience was different and maybe it was after all.
I was able to get there on time, for one. I was able to stay the entire Liturgy. I was able to engage the singing, the “Lord have mercies.” the ebb and flow of the prayers. This is true. And yet I distinctly remember how alone I felt and afraid I was. I remember too well how incomplete it was for me. I remember leaving the house every Sunday morning and crying in the car because I was so absolutely drawn to Liturgy and so absolutely grieved to leave my family just then. I remember being in a rush to leave Liturgy when it ended, afraid to stay and greet people because of my social anxiety, yes but also because it meant telling my strange and convoluted story of conversion. I was afraid of what? judgement? affirmation? I don’t know really. But leaving early meant a lesser sacrifice in the end or so I thought.
And so I’m here and I’m solo parenting them at Liturgy and they are bored and complaining and even in the case of Miles, laying on the floor moaning. It is just as I had expected which ought to be some kind of relief, really. I knew it was coming. I’m circling and shushing and shoveling prayers and creeds and “Lord have Mercies” into my mouth and my soul because I’m hungry and I’m not alone. And this too shall pass, I know that. I know that they will not always be laying on the ground. I hope that Father J knows this as well, I hope that my fellow travelers at Christ the Savior can offer some back up, I hope grace comes soon and brings with her a sandwich.