Saturday, March 29, 2014

Month of War

Halfway through Lent. Which means it’s time for my annual blah. Sometimes I get mad at God. Sometimes I get apathetic. But there seems to be some cyclical darkness that hits me at the same time every liturgical year. 

Ever since I started going to Catholic churches, I’ve gone on my own. It hasn’t bothered me. I like my selfish time at church, just me and Jesus. The passing of the peace interferes with my introverting, which is good, since mass is really supposed to be a communal action. I feel at home at mass, regardless of where I am or who is there. I don’t need to know anyone to feel like I belong. I belong because I’m Catholic. Every church is my church. 

But last week I was at mass, and it was lonely. I wondered how long I could be sustained by just the mass itself, without community around it. I wanted Bible studies and VBS and potlucks. I wanted to be able to name a majority of the people there. I wanted more. Perhaps the honeymoon phase has worn off, and I need something to spice up my faith or challenge me. But to sit in mass and think, “Maybe this isn’t enough,” was a jarring emotion. 

I thought about how typical it was for me to get this thought during the middle of Lent, which I normally experience some spiritual drought. It also occurred to me that I can’t be alone in this phenomenon. Lent is about drought and desserts and struggle. And it overlaps with the month of March, named after the Roman god of war. Maybe the ancient Romans felt a bit angry and unsettled at the same time every spring, just like me. One thing that Catholicism has taught me is that there is nothing new under sun: any emotion or thought or insight or experience that I might think is unique is bound to be quite common and already well-studied. The only thing new is my particular combination of these traits and my individual soul. There is something comforting knowing that I’m part of the human experience. Dark feelings come with the territory, but they aren’t revolutionary or life-altering. And best of all, they are temporary. 

After that not-so-great mass and week of sickness, odd schedules, and mega grad school stress, I came home on Thursday and slept for almost 15 hours. Friday was the first day in long time where I didn’t have to leave home, but the need for groceries forced me out of bed and out into the world. It turns out I needed to be outside. Despite the fact that it had snowed several inches earlier in the week, Friday morning was a balmy 65. The post-rain smell made everything clean and welcoming. It’s that nice time where the frost and wind of winter is gone, but the humidity and heat of summer isn’t here yet. This month is almost over. April showers quench spiritual droughts. The annual blahs pass. The god of war recedes for another year. Then it’s all Resurrection and flowers and chocolate bunnies. 


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