Today at noon mass, our flock was 70% hidden crazies and 30% out of the closet crazies. It was great. One thing I’ve always loved about the cathedral in Kansas City is that, being downtown, it attracts walk-ins. One thing I like about church is it’s almost impossible to get kicked out (witness, sadly, lunatic shooters being welcomed). Without that everyone’s welcome, though, we have nothing. Everyone. Welcome. Seriously.
One sheep piped up before the service, and during the sermon, when us subtler crazies were trying to enjoy being very quiet and listening to our priest talk very seriously about serious things. After church, another lamb insisted on writing down a recipe for me, and telling me how good it would be for me, apropos of absolutely nothing, and reading back the recipe with careful directions and injunctions about how my health would be so improved.
Most of us are so conniving in our ways of getting attention, a kind word, a listen. On occasion it’s a pleasure to interact with people who are completely out in the open. I would like to talk to you about something. Okay.
I know this must be much harder on the clergy, who can attract and maintain a group of people who are practically speaking, unreliable, people who are without resources. In fact, you are not sure their disconnection won’t turn violent or destructive. We never know about any of us.
Anyway that is the church to me, for sure, straight up, crazy, emotionally disturbed people that we all are, welcomed and put up with, we try to figure out what people have to offer our community and use it.
One of our lambs is amazing at prayer. He has no self-consciousness about it. And he requests hugs, which means that I don’t have to wonder, he asks, and I get one. I’m too uptight to ask.
It seems a distinct pleasure to have a moment with crazy people since in New York, there are so many of them, and you encounter them often in places where you are both trapped, i.e., the subway. I am reluctant to engage them in conversation. It breaks the social code of the train which is that we won’t add to the crazy if we don’t have to. I have prayed for them.
My crazy: I have not done enough to get a new job. I won’t get a job. I will get one, it will be awful. I have to go back to New York. No one loves me there. I am never happy there. What will I do in that week before school starts? I’ll have to stay busy. No, it’s not good to stay busy, just take it as it comes. I am never happy here, either, anyway. Why is life so hard. At least I had a fun time last night. That was really fun. I should just have more fun. I need to pay my rent. And that was only while the priest was blessing the communion stuff.
So I knelt an extra moment after I got my bread and wine.
Priest talked about prayer today, that your actions come from prayer. That being a praying person makes good things happen. I would prefer to try to make good things happen on my own, and then complain to God that they are not happening in the way I want.
It’s an interesting thought, though.
I guess when I am at the monastery, as I will be next week, there is a lot of prayer, not like long dialogues, but so much quiet I can hear my thoughts and there is space between them. It’s not always comfortable. One of the great gifts of the place is that it is immediately clear, from how fast I walk from my car to get the keys to my room, that I am the craziest person on the property. The most mixed up, the most unconscious, the most making a scene to hide the fact that I don’t even know how I feel or what I think.
Everything that hurts pops up at some point. At some point, I’ll have a good cry. But I always leave there having my head on straight, my heart turned forward.
Image: Standing Sheep, possibly by Nicola Vassalo, Metropolitan Museum of Art.