Thursday, August 14, 2014

Idol Worship

Lauren's family has an old farmhouse her grandparents bought a little more than 50 years ago in the North Country of New Hampshire.  Out the front windows you can see a beautiful pasture ringed by trees with rolling mountains not so far in the distance.  We can watch weather roll in when the sun's up and watch fireflies compete with stars at night.  Leo gets to run down paths mowed through the tall grass to the pond where he wanders around in the water; a little deeper every day.  There are far off highway sounds, an airplane flies overhead once in a while, an occasional car passes on the dirt road but, overall, its quiet here.

The farmhouse itself is old, well loved and maintained just enough.  The floors are crooked.  Some of the windows rattle a bit when the wind blows.  There are post-it notes to remind you of all the little quirks that are part of staying here.  The wallpaper is old and, in some places, there are a few visible places where its peeling or the wall is cracked a bit.  

These walls hold within them a collection of varied furniture that does the job; books that are functional or left behind for vacation reading; pictures of people I have never had the pleasure of meeting and others long before I met them.  There are board games in the cupboards and varieties of different sized plates to choose from, too.  There is a small piece of wood on a shelf with a bit of old fungus on it that sits next to a wild turkey feather.  There are empty blue vases on the window sill.  These are the little things that might be discarded other places but are treasurers here.  This place is filled with these little signs of awe.

This is an imperfect place and that's one of the things that makes it so perfect.  I walk in and I melt a little bit as I'm greeted with the faint smell of mothballs that, here, are a kind of incense.  My vacation beard starts to grow.  I'm not as worried if the shirt I grab in the morning is the clean one as much as the closest one.  I smell more like a human being and less like what we wash with.  There is no internet and whether or not you get any phone signal at all really seems to depend on the weather.  I pray for weather here that makes life difficult for everything that beeps, rings or electronically chimes.

The time here helps give perspective on perfection; that false god that so many of us are seduced into worshipping and have become so increasingly tired of trying to serve or resist.  This is the god that demands more and more of us; that god that critiques and critiques.  This is the god that feeds off of insomnia, tight shoulders and nauseous stomachs.  This is the god that mocks us as we buy more, try to be more and fit more than is possible in to a day.  This is the god that laughs when we fight with each other over scraps of impossible goals.  This is the god that takes the most beautiful pillow you have ever seen and slowly presses is down harder and harder over the face of that which is beautiful and true in all of us.  Perfection is, ultimately, an evil god.

I pray most days and on many of those days some sort of confession is a part of my prayer; not all but many.  On the worst days, I feel as though I am just rocking back and forth with my confession; my body wracked with sobs.  Other times I'm bragging to God and then it turns in to an "Oh shit" as I realize what I thought I did so well might have been coming from the wrong place and actually been the wrong thing.  Many days, its just trying to cope with that underlying feeling of not being enough or really being any good to anyone.  On days I feel God's presence, the response my heart sees is remarkably similar.  God rocks and nods with God's whole body.  God empathetically grimaces.  Then God pause, slowly nods and says, "I know.  Its OK."  There's no shame, just the gentle recognition of reality also known as forgiveness.  It doesn't take all of what I feel away but helps move a little bit of the rubble out of the way forward; a path that is meandering, odd, imperfect and just beautiful enough.