I like to go to church late. Deep in my heart, I guess I like to go everywhere late, or I wouldn’t be late so often. The brilliant thing about going to church late is that no one can look at you like, What’s her problem? Or they can, but then you know that they are bad people, because they judging others, even in church.
I was slightly late last week, came in during the Psalm. My brain at the end of the school year is packed so full of junk that I don’t have any room to move around. I vacantly sang the Psalm, stood for the gospel, and then some visiting priest stood up to give the sermon.
I don’t remember anything he said except, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Let not? How do you stop it? I had struggled to fall asleep the night before. My heart was troubled. It was Mother’s Day, and not only was I no one’s mother, I was showing no signs of ever being anyone’s mother. This troubled me.
Some people go in for the erudite sermon, the logical and the eloquent. I think sermons should run on only three themes: “God loves you,” seriously, and I mean the you right now, not some imaginary better you; “blessed are the poor in spirit,” meaning the less you hold onto, the closer you are to okay; and then “let not your heart be troubled.” Probably 80% of the talking in church should focus on the first one. No one, but no one, can get themselves to believe this. If you can get even an inch closer to believing it, you are in danger of winning a Nobel peace prize.
“Let not.” Like when your heart wants to jump off a bridge, hold onto it. Like when it wants to run into walls, wrap it in a blanket. Like when it’s sweating, pour some cool water over it. Troubled is different from sad, angry, pained. You can’t stop any of those. But you can experience powerful emotions without letting them run the show. You can hold on and ride the hills out, if you remember that there is a you experiencing the emotions, and that they are neither the emotions nor the mind are God. They just act bossy and cavalier, which reminds you of a fake, shallow, God-ish old man.
Your mind is troubled by nature. Trouble is its middle name. It investigates trouble and whips it up when it can’t find it. Your heart is not. Your heart likes stillness, and long moments, and rhythm. Your heart knows how to pace itself if you will listen.
I thought I could hold or wrap or water my heart. There is no hope for my brain right now. It’s going to be a big mess until school is out. My heart, though, I think could be okay, if I keep an eye on it.