It has been yet another hell of a week.
The rolling panic started on Saturday afternoon, and the fibro flare-up that always follows left me so sick I physically couldn’t go anywhere on Sunday morning.
People who have been spiritually abused often have panic at the thought of going to church. Even if they’re in a church where they feel perfectly safe, let alone right in the diocese where some of the abuse took place. And last weekend was not kind to people who have experienced abuse. My friends who have been sexually abused by clergy were much worse off, worse than I can imagine, but none of us had a good time.
When a person is too sick to get out of bed, the Sunday Obligation doesn’t apply, but I still worried.
I wish I had a different Mary Pezzulo to show to you all, someone steely and heroic, but I don’t. People claim I’m brave when they read what I write, but I am not brave at all. I’m so cowardly I sometimes have panic on Saturday afternoons, at the thought of church on Sunday.
During the week I prayed for a sign. All that happened was I got in a fight with a priest friend who went to the university when I was there. He used to be a very compassionate person. But this week he posted a horrifying bit of satire on Facebook, about aborting gay babies, and when I tried to tell him this was a terrible witness and liable to frighten away anyone considering abortion who might like a priest to talk to, he pooh-poohed me. I blocked him.
I decided to do a good deed to counter all the evil in the world, but I’m not very good at that either. I bought a bag of salad and some cans of tuna to take to the Friendship Room. They often ask for canned meat, and they always need salad to serve their homeless guests because there’s no place to get fresh produce downtown. But when I went to bring it to them, I forgot the salad in the fridge.
I was too ashamed to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to hand off the bag; I dropped it on the mat and rang the bell. I am almost thirty-five years old, and still so shy and nervous I play Ding-Dong-Ditch with cans of tuna at the local warming center for the homeless.
I went across the street to the big Baroque Catholic church that has “DO NOT GIVE $$$ TO BEGGARS CALL STEUBENVILLE POLICE” printed off in caps and pinned on the bulletin board. That warning has been there since before the Friendship Room took up residence next door. I don’t know if any of the parishioners see the irony. Once, when we were much poorer than we are now, my husband came to this church on a holy day of obligation in his shabby coat and got ordered not to sit down by an usher.
I didn’t dare go into the main church. It makes me nervous. I sat in the adoration chapel– that hot, close little ecru boxcar with the white noise machine buzzing next to me, the stuffy books on the shelves, and the Lord of Hosts enthroned behind glass at the front.
He is enthroned in all the people I passed on my walk from the bus stop to the Friendship Room. He is enthroned in a different way in all of Creation, everywhere present and filling all things. But He is also enthroned here. Among the many things God is, is a white circle behind glass in a warm little room in downtown Steubenville.
We gazed on each other for awhile, He and I.
I wish something more exciting had happened, but it didn’t.
It was the other kind of visit to an adoration chapel, the more common kind. The kind where you gaze on Him and nothing seems to happen.
I believe in miracles, but I also believe in the space between miracles. I believe in that dreadful, dark, uncertain space where most people spend the vast majority of their lives. I believe in the space in which no sign is given except the Sign of Jonah– you’re swallowed by a great leviathan and remain in darkness, alive though it’s impossible you should be alive, praying that you’ll ever be found worthy to see the light of day again.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, but I don’t believe in the things that were done to me and to my friends, claiming that Spirit as an excuse.
I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, but that doesn’t mean I trust her individual members or call any man holy because he calls himself Catholic.
I believe in the Communion of Saints, but there are plenty of saints I’m too afraid to ask for assistance.
I believe in the forgiveness of sins, but I condemn this constant ignoring of injustice.
I believe in the Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting, Amen.
But now it’s Saturday again, and the panic is starting, and I don’t know what to do.
(image via pixabay)