On the days I don’t have to be at work early, I try to make it to mass.
I think I seem kind of crazy to my best friend. She grew up in a very strict Baptist family, so church is for Sunday, and you have to wear a skirt or a dress to church. That was one thing that turned me off to church when I was younger — in sermons I would always hear “God doesn’t care what you wear to church, he loves you for who you are,” and yet every week I rarely if ever saw anybody — even babies — dressed in anything remotely casual, and never in jeans. I student taught my senior year of college (which was a traumatic experience) and had to dress up every day, so I try to avoid dressing up if I can help it.
I’m the kind of person who wears jeans to mass as often as I can get away with it. If you’re not cool with that, that’s fine. I’d like to think that my Father in heaven is hanging around in his pajamas all day too (work with me here) and really, he’d rather I be at mass, period, and if I don’t want to wear something that will inevitably call for heels, well, on some level he’s okay with that. It just so happens that the rest of the week I’m either in jeans or scrubs, and I’m not alone at mass in that respect.
The other reason I’m crazy is, well, why go to mass during the week if you aren’t even able to participate in Holy Communion yet? What do you get out of that? I asked myself that question a lot, and… why not? The liturgy helps me learn about my faith, which is barely eighteen months old, and I think that’s why I started going. I love praying at church. I’d like to think that if we can go to mass, then God would like us to. It can only help.
And there is something about being in a church that just envelops me in a feeling so different than anywhere else in the world. God is everywhere, all the time, of course, but if he sets up base camp anywhere, it’s at a church. I don’t know how, but I can sense that in a surreal way that doesn’t involve my five senses. I can tell when I’m in the presence of something sacred. I used to be able to recognize it more, especially last year, but now I think I’m getting used to it.
I think I experienced a little of it today, though, and I just realized it. It started storming on my way to town and the rain was coming down harder just as I got to church, of course. I got out and ran across the street in the rain, and as soon as I reached the steps of the church, I saw an enormous flash of lightning behind me. I felt my hair stand up on end — that’s how close it was — and my heart beat once and I remember thinking “this is a very, very bad situation to be in” before the thunder exploded. I grabbed the first thing I could (a metal railing — I know, I’m brilliant) and it was all I could do to not hurtle myself into the foyer. If I had been a step higher, I would have tried.
And as soon as I was inside, I felt totally and completely safe. Not comforted — my heart was pounding — but protected. Nothing bad could happen to me here. I knew that on some level that didn’t require words. I knew to sit a little farther away from the windows than usual, but nothing and no one could touch me except my Father.
I am completely and totally okay with that. And if I have the chance to get just a little closer to my Daddy a couple days out of the week, I think I’ll take him up on the offer.