Sunday, May 29, 2005

I've Been Kicked Around

What a day. I met Fellow Seeker and Devout in the afternoon and we went to church together. I really wanted to go because a female bishop was going to be there. It was good. She spoke about floods, first quoting from Genesis about Noah, and then from Matthew when Jesus spoke about building your house on the rock and not the sand. Then she went on to say that God doesn't send the floods to punish us. He loves us and is there to help us pick up the pieces. I don't recall her reconciling that with the Noah story she had just quoted, but perhaps I missed that part. The most wonderful thing that she said, in my opinion, was that the ascension was Jesus taking our humanity back to the divine. We sang songs, we took communion, I lit a candle for my father, and we left.

Throughout the service I kept thinking that I could go to this church all the time. Seriously. I don't know what it is that appeals to me so much. Maybe it's the radical departure from the non-denom churches that I was raised in. Maybe it's the sense of ritual that I don't get from the more casual churches. Maybe it's the feeling of connecting to such an ancient tradition. When I go to my other church, it feels very modern and relevant to 20-somethings. This church makes me feel in sync with a tradition that was passed down for centuries. Perhaps it's the architecture. *Shrugs shoulders*

Anyway, after church we got into another great discussion. We talked about God and why He lets people go to hell and why He sanctions the slaughter of people in the Old Testament and is it wrong to sing praise songs when you don't feel genuine about the lyrics anymore?

The most interesting thing that happened tonight was when I got on the bus to go home. F.S. and D. waited with me and hugged me goodbye when it arrived. Just then, a middle-aged man who apparently wanted to get on the bus ahead of me almost knocked D. over to do so. She was taken by surprise; we all were. They walked away and I boarded the bus. The man was ahead of me, paying his fare, and after he did he thrust his foot out behind him and kicked me. I was flabbergasted. I looked at the bus driver and exclaimed, "What the...?!" and he gave me a sympathetic look. When I went to sit down, I saw the man mumbling (to me or to himself, I'm not sure).

This is not the first time something like this has happened to me. I have incredible luck. Let's see, there was the time a homeless man tried to push me down a flight of stairs, and there was also the time that another homeless man pulled a knife on me and a friend of mine while we were sitting in a park, talking. I love the city that I live in but it can be a scary place sometimes.

When I got to my seat, my heart was pounding and I immediately began praying. Then it struck me what an utter hypocrite I am. I was disgusted with myself at once. Yes, I enjoyed church, but I am constantly doubting and having not-so-nice thoughts about God. However, as soon as something happens, I pray. I'm using God like some kind of Sloman Shield. I pray each time I get into my car, I pray before I go to sleep... I don't know what I expect it to do. What else can I do, though? I don't understand how atheists go about their daily lives. Are they fearless people walking around without a care in the world? Prayer is all I have to cling to when I feel unsafe, even though in the back of my mind I don't expect God to protect me. I just hope that He will.

I'm in an in-between stage right now. I can't just rush myself out of it, so I suppose I will have to remain a hypocrite for now. I can't just stop praying and live my life with "Que sera sera" on my lips. I'm not the type. I also can't pretend to be extremely faithful because God will not be fooled by it. I guess the prayer is more for my own edification than anything else.

Prayer confuses me. I have had a lot - and I mean a lot - of my prayers answered in my life. Ever since I was a teenager, it seemed like everything I asked for came to pass. My friends in high school used to ask me to pray for them because they said, "You and God are like this" with their fingers crossed. Even members of my family would say that. I don't know if it was closeness to God or the things I asked for being part of His plan anyway or just coincidences over and over. The strange thing is that I pray for protection for my family every day. The day of my father's accident, though, I don't think I did. It was at the end of the semester and I had spent hours reading and studying until I passed out. So, what does that mean? If I had prayed for his protection, would it have happened anyway? The logical part of me says, Of course it would have, stupid. But is it mere coincidence that it happened on a day that I didn't pray? Do prayers expire after 24 hours?


Musing said...

I struggle with praying while doubting, too. I can't seem to stop doing either.

And thank you for sharing so honestly. I always enjoy reading your posts, even though I don't comment often.

slim whale said...

No, we don’t live our lives like we don’t have cares in the world. We do feel scared too, terribly scared. And it’s doubly hard for us because we know we can’t just pray to something we believe does not exist. Whenever I’m down, I always think of the days when I still had faith. How easy it had been to just pray and feel better. It would be very convenient to have a god when you’re mired in tribulations. I guess that’s one of the perks of having a god. You can create the feeling that you are safe even though everything around you tells you that you’re not.

sojourness said...

Thank you, Jeannette. That means a lot to me.

Slim Whale, you're right. That's why I don't know how you do it. It must be terribly hard.