You know how sometimes, you’re amblin’ through life, feeling like you’ve got the grown up thing fairly well worked out? (No, this doesn’t happen all that often for me either, but go with it because it is tangential to my story).
No I don’t talk like that all the time! It’s just that I’m on my first cup of coffee and was feeling like I wanted to use a fancy, multi-syllabic word to jar you out of your Sunday a.m. and ‘tangential’ was the first one to pop up. So I used it.
Then I looked it up, and – BOO-YA! – it works.
There are a few questions that sort of rock me, no matter how much I try to prepare for them.
One of those questions is the, ‘What do you do?’ question. That has been a wHierd question for me my entire life. Mainly because it is often used to pigeon-hole people into some sort of position on the Ladder of Societal Importance (LSI). So even when I had a really good and socially acceptable ‘wowee’ answer for this question, I’d get stuck in this convoluted webby if-then-else logic disaster and want to give a smarmy answer like ‘space alien crime scene clean up’ just to guage reactions.
Anyway, there are very few other questions that waylay my mind in this way.
But there is one.
“Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?”
Warning: If you are easily offended (or very religiously rules-based), you may want to cut and run now because it is about to get all train-wreck-of-a-lapsed-catholic up in here.
I knew you’d stay. No one can look away from a good train wreck.
Okay, so it isn’t the actual question, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?” that gets me. It’s the general idea of it. The one that is often eagerly asked by a very nice person, who clearly has faith, and really really wants me to be welcomed into the kingdom of Heaven when I … you know … die.
Not being a big joiner on earth, I do understand that – since I can’t take my current peeps with me (without the use of force, which would land me in the other place anyway) – I will probably need some new friends in the afterlife. So if someone, who truly believes that Heaven is where good people end up, wants to make sure that I’m on track to get in too? Well that’s just super nice, don’t you think?
And who wants to disappoint a really nice person?
Not me. That’s not who.
Which has lead to some very interesting situations.
Like the time I accidentally took communion.
In December of 2000, I was having some lower back pain. That’s a bit of an understatement. I couldn’t sit still at all, couldn’t stand for long, couldn’t sleep. It had been going on for a while. Then one day I took my dog, Ripley, to the vet and, when we came out, she pulled a little bit on the leash and my lower back exploded in pain. I barely made it home, stumbled into the house and collapsed, screaming for John, from the floor at the foot of the stairs.
It was not remotely dainty.
By the time we got into an exam room, I was incoherent.
And after an MRI (where you have to stay still for many minutes at a time, on your back) they discovered a disc had burst.
Onto a heap of nerves.
So itty bitty pieces of disc were bouncing all over, causing excrutiating pain.
And it was a bigger problem than that.
I had a horse situation.
Well, at least that’s what I said when they told me because I was also full of Demerol.
They said I had Cauda Equina syndrome. And my drugged out mind focused on the word ‘equina’ and I remembered from my medical terminology course (which is really a badly disguised Latin course) that equinus refers to horses.
So basically, as far as I was concerned, they were telling me I needed emergency surgery because I had a horse disease.
But really, they were telling me I needed emergency surgery because my entire saddle area (pelvis etc.) is sort of important for things like walking and, if I didn’t have the surgery, I would be in deep doo doo (and most likely need diapers for uncontrollable doo doo).
So, I went with it.
Which landed me in the hospital for a few days.
And with a then two, six, and eight year old at home, it was like a mini vacation (with a bit of spinal surgery on the side).
I read, caught up on a few shows, learned to walk upright again … life was good.
Until discharge day.
My stuff was packed and John was on his way. I’d said goodbye to the docs and nurses who had taken great care of me. And I was just sitting on my bed watching TV when a very nice woman came into the room and asked me how I was.
And I said fine.
And she introduced herself as the hospital chaplain and I remember noting that was so cool that hospital chaplains could be women, and she said that I did not check off a religious preference on my forms when I was checking in, and I thought that with all the screaming and crying and impressive snot-tear concoction that I’d created on my face, I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten to check off a religious preference on a form.
And then my stomach dropped.
It was Sunday.
The Lord’s day.
So the very nice woman, with a suddenly very large crucifix hanging around her neck, came a little closer and I am telling you that my lapsed Catholic guilt muscled it’s way out of the depths of my being and absolutely sprang into physiological action. Every single cell in my body was screaming with the need to be seen as a good human by this woman.
So when she asked me if I was catholic, I said ‘yes’ (immediately justifying my answer as not so much a lie because I had actually been baptized) .
Then the very nice woman said she noticed that I was from Dunstable, and asked if I attended the blah-blah church in Groton and did I enjoy Father who-sies sermons?
And I said ‘yes’!
I don’t even know what I was thinking! My brain was a complete mess! This woman was so nice, and she was so happy that I was giving affirmative answers…. I couldn’t even blame the pain meds because all I had taken was Advil that day and all of a sudden she asked me if I wanted to receive communion and by the time she placed the cardboard circle on my tongue and I said ‘Amen’ it was all over and she left.
I was stunned.
How did that happen?
Not only did I lie to practically a priest (lady parts aside), I also lied about knowing a priest (and a church), and further blew it by misrepresentedly ingesting the body of Christ! And this had all taken place over the course of, like, eight minutes and now I was – as my young daughter, failing in her first pronouncement of the f-bomb would say – flucked.
Also, I was probably going to Hell.
Over the years, I have tried to justify my actions to myself. The furthest I can get is that it was a good thing that the very nice, hospital chaplain left happy (always good). Also, I don’t think the host costs very much, so it wasn’t major stealing when I took the host (though that mental path also had me trying to convince myself that they toss a bunch of hosts out periodically for freshness purposes, and then I had to admit that they are super cardboardy and probably last longer than Twinkies, so I had to abandon that line of rationalization).
But last night, someone threw me a lifeline. I now have new hope in my quest for forgiveness from above (I can’t go to actual confession with a priest because an ‘agree to disagree’ discussion with Father McCue resulted in my decision not to do the whole ‘confirmation’ thing when I was thirteen. So I’m sunk on that front).
I have to take a more direct route.
And Heather Tretiak may have found it for me.
Last night, Heather posted the following clipping and tagged me on it. It is from the classified section of her local paper:
Look at that!
No less than two nativity sets for sale, followed by a … yes … Ouija board!
It’s a sign, people!
The universe, via the fine city port city of Hamilton in southern Ontario Canada, is telling me that I can communicate my apology directly – okay, via a laminated piece of particleboard and a giant guitar pick with magnifying glass – and, if I purchase a nativity set, I will also be surrounded by key physical representations of important apology targets.
I am so on this!
First, I’ve got to google any biblical rules or guidance on the use of Ouija boards.
Then, and potentially even more importantly, I have to check on the shipping charges from Canada.
Thanks for readin’.
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