What All Relationships (religion included) Require

Well, I agreed with the majority of J.T. Eberhard’s recent post “Joy for Joy’s Sake.”  I, too, like visiting RenFaires, and I enjoyed scrolling through the pictures of him and his fiancée frolicking amid the anachronisms.  But then I got up to this conclusion:

Meaning is realizing we’re very lucky to have the time we have and not wasting a minute of it by letting others dictate how we spend these precious minutes.  If you’d rather be at home cuddling someone who means the world to you than sitting in a pew, then your religion has stolen a bit of your life.

I certainly spend some Sunday mornings grumping about in bed, not wanting to get up and schlep for a forty minute walk to Church.  Or having to get up at 6am to get to the very early Mass, so I can make it to work when I’m needed.  And I’ll admit that, in the moment, it feels a bit like a privation.

But I’m not having my time or energy stolen from my real relationships.  I’m choosing to spend it on one.

I used to be terrified that I could never have kids, because the first time they started throwing up, I would just leave the house and run away.  (I can be a bit squeamish and was one of the kids excused from the dissections at summer camp).   But luckily, while I was dating my first boyfriend, he got a horrible flu and started throwing up so much that they needed to give him an IV line by the time we took him to the hospital.  And it turned out I loved him more than I hated being around vomit.

No one has a relationship of solid, nice cuddling time.  But nursing a loved one through an illness, or reading the book they’ve been nagging you about (a copy of Screwtape Letters will be coming to  you soon, current boyfriend!), or even having a fight, the awkward period after, and eventual reconciliation is part of the same thing that fuels the cuddling.

And, as far as I’m concerned, at least Mass is easy.  It’s the thing I know how to do (like sending flowers), not the less structured, more uncertain part of praying on my own.  One reason I like going to Daily Mass when I can is that it’s a way of spending time with God without being scrupulous or self-conscious about how.

And I’m sure, given that J.T. is going to be married, he doesn’t ever feel like his fiancée is stealing time from him, if she needs something or wants to share experience he wouldn’t pick otherwise.  My Mass-going just rankles, presumably, because he doesn’t think there’s a relationship there to honor.

I think he errs by not evaluating the practice in light of the premise.  If a friend were catfished into corresponding with a scam artist on a dating site, I would feel bad that s/he was snookered, but I’d be glad that s/he treated the faux partner with affection and respect, until the error was exposed.

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