Monday, July 03, 2006

Comic Relief

Some days a person just wants some comic relief. Some days a person is the source of comic relief for someone else. That would be me, today, for you. I can still laugh (and cry) at the following true story.

If you have read my blog for long you know that numbing my feelings with food is something I find easier to do than not. As with most things I struggle with on a regular basis I wax and wane between wanting to be free of them and wanting to hug them close forever.

Last week I got up early one morning to go to Mass and drove into town only to find out Mass wasn't scheduled that day. I had a little bit of business to do so all was not lost. When you live in the midst of nowhere like I do, you plan trips to anywhere with hopefully more than one thing on your to do list. I needed to fill the van with gas and that was a problem. It would be fine if I only bought gas. But more often than not I end up adding $10 worth of junk food to my bill. I delayed filling up the van by driving around and around town repeating the mantra "no junk food" to myself. I think the town has less than 2,000 people in it so I literally did drive around and around town talking to myself. So much so that at one point I was sure I was going to get reported to the police. I could just imagine them getting a call about a strange white van circling the outskirts of town. I would have had to confess to them that I was no wanna be thug only a real life glutton.

Initially I did pretty good. I grabbed two cans of diet coke and was on my way to pay for them when I walked past a rack of Cracker Jack popcorn. Instant memory lane moment. When I was little my mom would phone in our grocery order every week and when my dad would bring home the groceries he would always bring us a treat. Before we could read we got some candy and Cracker Jack Popcorn topped my list of favourites. I distinctly remember being disappointed the week I graduated from candy to my very own comic book instead.

So I make it home with two cans of diet coke (gotta have some self control somewhere) and a bag of Crack Jack Popcorn. By some miracle there is more than half the bag of popcorn left so I continue to eat it while I open up my email. Every day I get something to think about from Inward/Outward. Picture me stuffing my face with popcorn as I read the following:

The Contemplative Option

Loretta Ross

Much in the spiritual life depends on where we place our attention and what we allow to take up space in our minds. One ought never to underestimate our horrible external and internal resistance to the contemplative option. By contemplative option I mean the choice to respond contemplatively and prayerfully to ourselves and the world. The contemplative option awakens the power of Christ in us that allows us to be reconciled and to enter into right relationship with creation and one another - a relationship of gentleness, love and forgiveness.

Contemplation is a choice about what we will have on our minds. Sometimes contemplation is a choice to step back, wait and to tolerate the withdrawal of not satisfying every appetite and desire. The contemplative option may be a choice to face into our own insatiability and discern what truly satisfies from what leaves us numb, jittery and still hungry. There is no getting around it. The contemplative life is a sacrifice. Our yes to God will likely mean a no to something else.

Source: Making Haqqodesh

Can you imagine reading that with a mouthful of Cracker Jack Popcorn? "Sometimes contemplation is a choice to step back, wait and to tolerate the withdrawal of not satisfying every appetite and desire." It was a holy shit moment for sure. Then I get the great idea to print it out. As I try to do that the computer freezes. I was convinced I was never going to be able to read anything else on my screen ever. To top it off bobbie phones me as my screen freezes. Bobbie is someone I confess to regularly about numbing my feelings. I could hardly answer the phone I was laughing so hard. Funny how one can laugh on the outside to keep tears within.

Eventually I printed it and tacked it to the wall above my keyboard. I know myself well enough to know I could have chosen three chocolate bars, one rented blue movie or even compulsive religious activity to numb my feelings that day instead.

I told Father Charlie last week that choosing not to numb my feelings leaves me with this big gaping hole inside. He assured me that accepting the gaping hole without filling it with mindless stuff, was really honouring it as part of the journey of transformation. He wasn't in a panic to make sure I filled it with something. I had been expecting him to tell me to fill the hole with God, with religious activity, with all things good. But then I remembered the last time I went to confession and as we talked I told him that I couldn't bring myself to pray like I used to - couldn't fill my God time with things that used to feed my spirit but don't anymore. He answered me by holding his hand across his throat as a cut off point and telling me that God wanted to hear from my heart not my head. That if I was going to do "religious" stuff from my head simply to pat myself on the back and reassure myself that I was okay I was wasting my time. God wanted my heart. Father Charlie has no way of knowing that almost every time I go to Mass and gaze upon the Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus I end up getting this image of my heart exposed and pressed up against Christ's, the blood of His dripping over mine. He wants my heart, indeed.

Wow, it's taken me several hours to write this post. I honestly thought I was going to share with you the humourous way in which God spoke to me about stuffing my feelings and leave it at that. I do hope you found the image of me stuffing my face while reading the contemplation excerpt funny. Because it was. It felt like being in a Candid Camera moment courtesy of the Holy Spirit and Company. I read the last paragraph especially of The Contemplative Option regularly. It continues to speak to me.

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