The morning began around seven with my cat Walter waking me by walking all over me, purring and trying to get some affection. I got up and coffee was made. I started the day on our old couch reading a biography on Gerard Manley Hopkins, a 'small, childish looking, yet like a child-sage, nervous and very sensitive, with a small ivory pale face' kind of man. I hated to put the book down, because it was so beautifully written and interesting to me. He was a Jesuit and a writer, and hard on himself. He struggled to find peace:
My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; to live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst's all-in-all in a world of wet.
Kind of dismal ... but he had a sense of humor, too. When a young writer who had not suffered much asked him why he became a priest he replied, "You wouldn't give only the dull ones to the Almighty God!" I like that. Give some of the complicated, confusing, conflicted and hilarious ones to the Almighty God. He will find them admirably delightful I think.
And then I drove to church and managed to not be overwhelmed for more than an hour. The sermon was refreshing and given gently. That is something good for me.
The day continued with a pretty good lunch of pancakes and chicken sauce, the death of a large wolf spider in my bathroom - it is that time of year! - and A Prairie Home Companion on the radio. Steve was searching the internet for solutions to some of our needs. I brought him a map from my car, the most helpful contribution I can make. Unlike most of the world (apparently), I do not enjoy the computer as a source of information or entertainment. I read. More of Gerard Hopkins.
Two friends dropped by with a gift of diet coke from McDonald's and I laughed at our companionable bickering. Gifts are not my love language but someone doing something small for me makes me feel loved. And food. I think maybe food is my love language. I consider myself a 'foodie', but recently I read some comments on foodies that made me cringe. According to this article I am not a real foodie (very unlikable folks) - I just happen to love the art and craft and conviviality of food. I think I can own this without shame, having spent much of my first adulthood in the kitchen, creating miracles and messes and sometimes just playing. I am with the Israelites: 40 years of one type of food, even if it drops from heaven, is a trial beyond bearing. If only there had been just the odd container of pesto or an occasional creamy pie the people of God may have been a lot less cranky. And maybe braver. I know I am braver when I have eaten something delicious. My mouth is drooling - but no, I must not go there.
As I do every Sunday I went to an evening Jazzercise class and worked my body. (It is a wonder I don't look like Jane Fonda, for all the exercise classes I fit in. Imagine what I would be like without them! My German peasant genes are always fighting to be free and make me into Greta the cow maiden.)
And then I made tea, put red Duck Tape over the broken light fixture on the back of my kid's car, and picked up the book on Manley, which I continued to read in a tub full of bubbles. I think a Sunday hot bath is one of the luxuries of modern times. That I can turn on a tap and soon have the hottest bubbling water to sink into - this is the stuff of royalty.
The day has ended with a conversation with my son who has decided he wants to go back to church. We talked about the 'communion of saints' and how I take such great strength from the great cloud of witnesses - not the crazies, abusers and bullies, but the true saints who have gone before. How their lives give mine meaning and convince me of a future beyond this life. And we talked about death and I told him my secret - that I overcame deep personal fear (and all fear is at bottom, fear of death) by embracing death and learning to truly love life. It was a good conversation.
And because it is Sunday and tomorrow is the beginning of the next lap, I am off to bed. Steve has tried to seduce me with an episode of Doc Martin, but no, I am about to crawl into my firm, yet soft bed, pull up a quilt made by my friend, after which Walter will jump on top of me and make her nest in some curve of my form.
Who says life is not beautiful?