I'm not a huge fan of religion in general. Something about that whole "God hates fags" thing gets me every single time. Or at least that was my excuse in college when my lesbian mother called to ask if I'd managed to get my lazy ass to someone's chapel on any given Sunday.
"I'm Bedside Baptist now," I'd tell her, sleepy and hung over from the night before.
"What. Ever," she'd reply, knowing full well that I wasn't taught to conflate "father/mother god" with what a small few convince others to do in his/her name. Back then the idea of going to church alone seemed too grown up for me, as if taking the reins of my spiritual life was one responsibility I just wasn't ready for. So I let it go and forgot to miss it.
But, like a lot of "I'm more spiritual than anything" types, I do like going to church when the mood occasionally hits every few years or so. I usually feel pretty light and airy afterwards. A good sermon is like a Groupon therapy session -- and also just like the Groupons gathering dust in my inbox, it sounds like a great deal until you realize that you have to actually go out and get your blessing. At least that's how my grandmommy puts it.
Funny thing is a lot of my friends are extremely religious, like "in church every Sunday and may even be on someone's usher board" religious. I, on the other hand, show up at Sunday brunch in the cleanest jeans I could find, not my "go to meeting" clothes.
This is a known thing among my pals. Helena is a heathen. The narrative is so pervasive I don't even bother to bat it down anymore with the facts. I pray. I talk to the homie JC on the regs. I even make a joyful noise every now and then when nobody's watching.
Once a friend who's uber-Catholic invited me to mass, which is basically a magical 45 minutes. And I don't mean that as a pejorative. I mean that I was literally mesmerized by the invisible wand that told a group of would-be strangers when to stand, when to kneel, and when and what to recite. I just mouthed "watermelon watermelon watermelon" the whole time and felt like a jerk. I never went back but I still remember the feeling.
This same friend regularly gives up alcohol for Lent, six weeks of "preparation through penance" on the liturgical calendar beginning on Ash Wednesday. He recently suggested that a bunch of us have a "sin party" at which everyone indulges in their favorite vice for just one night then quits cold turkey until Easter. Needless to say, we never went through with it because of scheduling (and my inherent laziness), but I've been thinking about what I could give up to get my mind right for the lord.
My list was pretty paltry, if I do say so myself. I mean, obviously, Miles, my wonder pug, is my favoritest thing on planet earth, but he doesn't count. Next up would be my obsession with Overstock.com, which gobbles up a healthy portion of time better spent reflecting on life and what not.
Then there's my nightly visit to "Steve," the man who runs our neighborhood liquor store. A man who knows me so well that he wished me a "Happy Valentine's Day." Giving up our regular ritual would be like giving up water. I mean it wouldn't obviously, but still.
Same goes for the ladies at my local Dunkin' Donuts who have my order ready before I can say, "Good morning." Oh, and salads. I am a SUCKER for fancy salads that cost upwards of 12 dollars.
I'm sure there's heavier personal stuff somewhere in there, too. Like how one of my best friends gave up cursing and gossip -- except on Sunday. Perhaps that made her a better person. More Christ-like or, at the very least, less of an asshole. Who couldn't use a little de-assholing once a year? I know I could. So despite not being Catholic (or even slightly religious in general) and starting way late, this week I'm going to rack my brain and find something to throw overboard and make this ship a little lighter. Suggestions?