Self-Check Out

This week I made a discovery.  I have been sitting about wondering what’s going on with my church.   Somehow it didn’t feel the same as it used to – not so cohesive, more cliquey and less like the home I have always considered it to be.  I discussed this with a couple of friends (carefully choosing those who I knew were equally checked-out and unlikely to present any challenges) and bemoaned how I didn’t feel like I belonged anymore.  Poor me! 

Sure the guy at the back is technically on the bike, but he's kind of irrelevant.  And the view isn't great either.

Sure the guy at the back is technically on the bike, but he's kind of irrelevant.  And the view isn't great either.

My eldest son has just gone off to Montreal for a week.  He’s not at home much but there’s always the feeling that you might bump into him so it’s a big deal for us when he’s away for any length of time.  The usual late night opportunities to chat or the hopeful offer of a favourite dinner to persuade him to spend some time with the family are obviously useless, and so this week, the day before he left, we agreed on a time when we could come together for dinner and spend some quality time together, and I happily went about my business, as did he. 

The table was all laid, mouth watering smells filled the kitchen, and the rest of the family sat about waiting for him and chatting.  We didn’t talk about anything much, nothing particularly notable, we deliberately irritated each other a bit and laughed at each other.  When number one son arrived we plunged happily into the food and enjoyed every bit.  And then he left, and I left and the resultant mess was left as the rest of the family retreated back to their solitary activities.

It was all a bit of a disappointment.  It felt cold and rushed, disconnected and most importantly – dutiful rather than loving.  It was hard to leave the rest of the family after dinner, I love those leisurely post-prandial chillaxathons while we do nothing much but exist for a brief time in the same space and swap trivialities.  These are the times we share on an unwittingly deep level.  The times when things “come up” naturally and organically without pressure or exigency.  And so I returned to my default position of “poor me”.  At least I tried to – really I did!  But some nasty, brutally honest voice kept interrupting my bath in a warm vat of pathos.  It pointed out that this is EXACTLY what I do at Church.  I turn up late, miss all the announcements, the singing the smiling, nodding and the “unimportant” fluff, listen to the sermon (from the back whilst fiddling with my phone, colouring or doodling) and then leave as soon as I can.  It’s like eating only the filling of a sandwich, it’s just not satisfying and the rest of my day is filled with a vague, unidentifiable and nagging hunger that drives a desire for tawdry distraction.

mmm ... delicious grilled cheese sandwich

mmm ... delicious grilled cheese sandwich

Disappointment in cheese form

Disappointment in cheese form

I am not a victim.  I am a very silly person.

This week I’m going to Church and I’m getting there early.  Well, on time at least - there's no need to panic.  I’m going to hang around afterwards and I’m going to immerse myself enough to create a fluff angel and so become part of the fabric of the church once more.