catholicism

first of all, any discussion about catholicism always reminds me of dane cook’s sketch on growing up catholic. it’s one of his cleaner sketches, and it just cracks me up every time I listen to it, because it reminds me of growing up as a missionary/pastor’s kid and just the Christian church in general.

I have a friend who grew up catholic and was actually an altar boy as a kid. We’ve had some good talks about it: things that he struggled with, things that brought him to the protestant side of life, things that he misses and things he thinks the protestants have missed or forgotten. It’s funny to hear him talk about it because it seems so other-worldly in many ways. But it wrings my heart for the tradition that my life has lacked. Maybe it’s that I have moved around and have no roots but only wings and I long for a place to dig in deep and settle for many years. No matter what it is, there is a place in my heart that yearns for tradition and weighty substance in our gatherings as a church community.

There is a certain beauty that I can hear when Jason talks about growing up catholic. I can almost smell the incense and hear the bells. He might be laughing when he talks about having to read in front of his parish and how uncomfortable he was, I might laugh too. But at the same time, there is a deep part of my soul that longs for the sound of the priest calling to worship, feeling the smallness of my soul in the vast cathedrals and hearing hte shuffle of many feet on aged stones as we humbly take the body of the Lord and his blood and feed on it.*

There is a part of me that completely revolts against authority, against men between me and God, against institution. But there is a part of me that earnestly desires that direction, that confidence, that assurity placed in someone other than my own weak mind that cannot wrap itself around anything where God is concerned. There is a part of me that wants to take communion casually, like friends enjoying a meal, not caring who has blessed it or where it goes when we are through. But there is another side of me that wants to dip my head and remember that in some strange way, Jesus is present at this table, in the bread from the grocer’s oven, in the cheap wine and sugary juice. I want to cross myself and whisper the words, “Christ’s body, broken for you; Christ’s blood, shed for you.”

I envy Jason’s upbringing in the Catholic Tradition, even if it separated him from God for a time. I envy the glory that he has known, the weightiness that he has felt in the ceremony–and that he has experienced himself as an altar boy who worked alongside the priest to honour God and serve the people (even if he was forced into it by parents and not by choice or calling). I think there is a good deal of beauty in the Catholic church and in Eastern Orthodoxy that Protestantism did away with in reaction to the excess of the Middle Ages. And while that is understandable, and perhaps was even necessary–it is still a great disappointment to the rootless wanderer who wants something tangible to touch and see and remember God by.

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* in the service that John Wesley wrote out for taking communion, there is a point at which the leader says “come take the bread and the wine and feed upon Christ in your soul” or something along those lines. It has always intrigued me–this idea of feeding on Jesus as our spiritual food and drink. Not doctrine, not the Bible, but the very sacrificial Lamb Himself.

Snowy Sunday

Yesterday I went home from church, feeling sick and just wanting to sleep. On Saturday I had gotten talked into skiing, getting up at 520am and being in the car for almost four hours in mountain traffic on grey slushy roads. I was battling a cold, and I thought that falling over into snowbanks near tree lines wasn’t the best plan for getting well. The problem is, you see, I’m a pushover and I give into peer pressue. It’s not always a bad thing, Jason reminds me. Thanks to peer pressure I’m reading my my Bible more consistently than ever before. But this was the bad kind of peer pressure, and I gave in to an early morning, an exhausting work out and bitter cold winds on the peak eight ski lift over the moguls watching the people bounce and fall and get back up again only to repeat the endless process of tumbling down the mountain.

So on Sunday, after church, all I wanted to do was sleep away my cold and sorely bruised muscles. But I gave into peer pressure again. [this was a bad weekend for me apparently] I gave into peer pressure and I went to a friend’s condo for lunch and to return the camelbak I had borrowed during Saturday’s adventure. And lunch turned into an afternoon of setting up a new tv, watching the olympics, translating a family tree, going to radio shack for tv cables and picking up food at sunflower market since we were nearby. And there delicious french bread that had just come from the oven–so naturally we bought some of that before heading back out into a snowy afternoon. We went back to the condo, and while he set up those newly bought cables, I made hot chocolate. Because you can’t have it snowing in big fluffy flakes outside the third floor window without drinking hot cocoa. And then we watched Pushing Daisies, the Olympics and suddenly, it was 730! My stomach was growling and there was still French bread that we hadn’t eaten. We broke the crusty baguette and dipped it in homemade chicken noodle soup. And then we sat at the table for an hour talking, then stood in the kitchen and washed dishes and talked for another hour. And then, with the roads icing over and the snow still falling, I had to go home before I got stuck and had to skip work in the morning.

So we said our goodbyes and I went home to bed and that much needed rest.

But the funny thing is, I felt better already. I was sick going into the weekend and I was sick on Sunday after church. But a good afternoon with an awesome guy was even better for my soul and rest than a late afternoon nap.

Maybe, like Jason says, peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing.

Matthews Winters Park

I know, I promised pictures.

But I left my camera at home, so here is what you get instead.

Matthews Winters Park is between Gold and Red Rocks, behind the rumbling hogback that separates the mountains and the plains. It as muddy with thick red earth and grey snowy slush. It was gorgeous. We climbed smooth red sandstone to see the views, traipsed across yellow fields to a tiny fenced in cemetery with the names worn off by sun and chaffing wind. We slid on icy hills as the temperature dropped in the fading light of late afternoon and I braved my fear to stare down a cliff side without getting dizzy.

The wind rose high and plummetted down the foothills to push us on our way. My face was red and burned, my ears throbbed and my eyes watered ever so slightly to blurr the majesty into mysterious glory like a little world set apart for experiencing the Grandeur.

Jason laughed at how muddy my pants were, how they were soaked to halfway up the calf. He said its because my jeans drag along the ground and water creeps through the fabric like a paper towel dipped in a puddle even if ever so slightly. He told me the scientific name for the process, then laughed when I couldn’t repeat it back. Then we climbed in the truck, him neat and tidy after a two hour hike, me with my muddy jeans and squelching socks thanks to old and feeble sambas.

But the best part was, our exploring adventure did not end there. Because there was Gold to tour and Lebanese kafta kabob to be eaten for dinner.

And I think this is the start of some rather enjoyable times. I’m about to email “the gang” and see what the exciting plan is for this weekend. [and maybe, just maybe, this time I’ll get some pictures taken]

Working and Sabbathing

It was a long week at work. Wonderful, in some ways, bad in others, long all around.

I have decided that I’m not cut out for this sort of thing. I don’t see why someone doesn’t want to hire me to hang out with people, make them lattes and just cook delicious food (like soto ayam, which I have been craving).

But working has done many good things for me. One of them is that it has suddenly helped me to appreciate weekends and the untold wisdom of God in commanding us to honour a sabbath day of rest. Not that I just sit around on my weekends and relax with a book or in front of the tv watching a chick flick. That is all well and good, and something I have done many times. But lately, I have been a bit more active on my weekends.

God has blessed me with an awesome church that has a total of… five singles. One, Holly, attends the seminary here in Denver and she is often busy with friends from there. So that leaves four of us, all in the same small group, who hang out regularly. It’s great. We are getting to know each other pretty well, and we always have a blast. A few weeks ago we were downtown eating sushi when Joy discovered: she doesn’t actually like sushi. We also talked about why I don’t like fish tanks in restaraunts. Or last week, when Joy shouted things like “south in yo mouth!” while winning at skip-bo and we talked about music and cars. Or in Barnes and Noble discussing which translation we each read of the Bible and I rolled my eyes about KJV–only to find out that Jason likes KJV. Woops.

It’s been great fun, many late nights full of laughter and a few serious conversations. I know all about Jeff and his fiance. I have watched Joy be angry and giggly all in the same hour. I’ve been told to stop tail-gating by Jason and laughed at by everyone for the stupid things I say. And it’s just all around wonderful to feel there’s a place to belong even if we don’t quite fit together perfectly.

Last weekend I went skiing and it was gorgeous. The clouds were lofty and grey and it snowed in big fluffy flakes that padded the ground for my many falls. Tomorrow I am going hiking. I’ll try to take some pictures and post them from my latest weekend adventure. I like these weekends off of work and the chance to be out, enjoying God’s creation with friends. It’s a great way to sabbath without spending the whole day in front of the tube. And it’s basically just a wonderful thing to be with people and listen to them talk about God. It’s like a sabbath from work, but a chance to learn so much more. Maybe this is what Aaron means about being the church as opposed to just going to church.

Sitting in Cars with Boys

today at work:

Me:… yeah, and then we sat in his truck and talked until one in the morning.

Cody: so you were making out until one am?

Me: naw, that’s got to wait until at least the third date.

Cody: yeah right. you were totally making out.

Me: that’s right Cody. I’m that girl.

Cody: I knew it.