Sunday, February 22, 2009

Deep Breaths

I spent most of the week hanging on by a thread.  Maybe it's my Mormon upbringing, but my gut always has told me that the world is one step from total meltdown, and this week, I had moments of true, true panic.

E has made me promise to quit listening to NPR, but I can't help it. I poke the power button of my car radio and just listen for about 5 seconds and then quickly turn it off.  Little flashes like " Iran continues it's uranium enrichment program..." and "...the catastrophic down-turn of markets in Germany..." aren't doing much to dispel the ever increasing anxiety that has taken up residence in the pit of my stomach.

Plus, I spent the tail end of last week at a conference, and the lady who traveled and roomed with me was nice, and stable, and older, and kept saying things like, "Our daughter who is a financial analyst and who has been pretty spot on through this whole thing says to be ready for the next dark ages."   When I explained to her that comments like that really disturb and upset me, and I asked if it was hyperbolic at all, she said no, but then went on to try and console me with a lecture on how the dark ages have been renamed the middle/medieval ages because there was still art and music and literature.  That didn't help.

Eventually I had a full fledged panic-attack in the middle of dinner at PF Changs, had to excuse myself to go into the bathroom to shake and barf, and then returned to the table and asked if we could kindly change the topic from the inevitability of the loss of all our jobs to something slightly less vomit inducing.

And so much of it comes back to being a mom.  I look at Sophie's beautiful, sweet face, and wonder what there will be for her.  I imagine horrible scenarios in which she is starving or enslaved or blown up or dying from some crazy form of typhoid-germ warfare and then I get the shakes again and have to excuse myself to go in the bathroom and sob and try not to barf.

How about an abrupt change of subject?

So you know about the whole Mormon thing already.  I was one, now I'm not, I live in Utah, and those guys have a pretty slick recruitment scheme in place for the kiddies.  It's called Primary.  And Soph wants to go. 


It's been a struggle for me on a number of levels.  A few weeks ago when she came home from attending church and said to me, "Don't worry mom.  There IS a Jesus.  Joseph Smith saw him.  Can Daddy baptize me?" and my brain tried to crawl out through my right nostril because it knew there was no way it could process that statement, I decided that maybe I had better start looking for some options.

What I REALLY wanted was some community/congregation that would be sweet to her, wanted to help the world, offered some kind of "Bible as Literature for Elementary School Kids" so that she could learn the stories--because they are a cultural phenomenon that are helpful to know--if for nothing else than literary allusions, and would fill in the vacuum that she seems to be feeling about being one of the only kids in her class who don't go to church.  If they took it pretty easy on the Jesus question, that would be good too.

I was dropping off some Girl Scout (I didn't mention that I'm the new Daisy Scout leader?) stuff at the local Episcopal church (They're nice enough to let us use their space.) and happened to bump into their reverend/pastor/minister.  A very cool lady (!) named Susan.  I mentioned to her that my daughter was feeling very curious about religion, and we were considering a visit to the Episcopalians just to check things out.  She lit right up, and was very, very kind.  First she read me her "Robin Williams Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian," t shirt, then she assured me that wherever I was in my journey, I, and my daughter, were welcome.  She also told me that jeans were totally acceptable to wear, and that if we wanted to stay, there would be coffee hour after.

We've been three times now.  Soph has the Sunday school teacher (a very sweet 8th grade girl) all to herself, and they mainly read children's bible stories and color.  She likes it.   I like sitting in the chapel; it has beautiful wood arches, and a very cool labrynth on the floor.  I also like the community/congregation, and particularly the older ladies who tell Soph how pretty she is, give me a hug during the "peace," and put on a pretty impressive spread after church every week.  And the coffee is pretty good too.

If only it weren't for the fact that I don't actually believe in God--Jesus in particular--it would be a perfect fit.  I love how at the end of her sermon today, Susan said, "Let's get living!"  I love how she seems to like ending the service with the Amiel quite, "Life is short. Be swift to love! Make haste to be kind!"  I hate it when everyone recites the Nicene Creed.  It reminds me that the reason the church exists is to worship God/Jesus, not to provide me with a silent place to sit, a nice cup of coffee, and a few words of encouragement.

They're starting an investigator's class next Sunday, and Susan invited me to come.  In fact, I think I may be the investigator that the class is being held for.  And I don't wanna.  I don't want to have to say, "I think what you have here is swell.  I love the sense of community and the way that you seem to want to do good in the world.  I also think the whole Jesus thing is a bit of a crock."  I don't know that they'd still let me come.