A Day of Rest

A Day of Rest February 7, 2023

breakfast in bed
image via Pixabay

 

I really meant to go to Mass this week, but I ended up staying home to rest.

I think it’s been a month since I’ve been inside a church. Serendipity is still on the fritz, but we had a ride to the evening liturgy at the quiet church that doesn’t usually hurt very much. I was determined to go. But then, in the hour before he came to get us, the anxiety gripped my chest.

I tried to quell it, but I couldn’t.

I tried to dissociate from it, but it didn’t work.

The fear mounted. My heart and my thoughts started racing. I felt my mouth go dry. Every cell in my body was screaming like a tantrumming toddler. Not church. I don’t want to go to church. I don’t want to go to the loud place with the songs that trigger flashbacks and the people who don’t want me and the scary saints. Anything but church. 

I realized that if I went to Mass like this, I’d end up having one of my worst panic attacks. I hate it when that happens.  I hate how people stare at me and the things they say. I hate how it exhausts me for days afterwards. I have tried to bravely go to Mass anyway, but I am not brave anymore. I’ve used up every last ounce of brave.

Michael and Adrienne went to Mass with our ride, and I stayed home.

I took Lady Mcfluff the portly guinea pig upstairs for company. I got myself a carton of that horrible strawberry ketogenic yogurt substitute, and I got her a small pile of mixed greens. I served both of us some raw unsalted almonds– a quarter cup for me and a single almond for Lady McFluff. We burrowed under the covers, eating our snacks. And I played video games on my laptop while listening to a recorded history lecture. This the happiest way I know to spend an afternoon when I can’t get out of the house.

It felt restful.

Could Sunday just be a day of rest now?

In one way I would like that.

In another I would not.

I love the Gospels and the Person they describe. I love what He had to say. I love the experiences I’ve had of Christ– not the bangs and flashes and emotional contagion of the Charismatic Renewal but the ones of I’ve had when I meditate and read the Gospel on my own. I would like to speak with that Christ again. I would like that to be part of my life.

Someone always pops in at this point to tell me I just need to take care of Christ in my poor neighbors, and I agree with that. I think that’s living the Gospel. I think we should all do that, all of the time. But I also want a liturgy. I want a religious practice. I want sacraments. I want music and art and community. And I want those things to be nourishing instead of stripping me of all my strength. But just now, they’re not.  I can’t walk into a church without a panic attack. I’ve tried the Catholic and the Orthodox churches and made a fool of myself; I even snuck into the back of an Episcopal church to see if I could ever be a Mainline Protestant and it didn’t go any better.

I would like to show you something more beautiful than that, but all I’ve got right now is me.

All I’ve ever had is me.

The only person I’ve known how to be is myself– someone who is fully confident that Christ is real and Christ is love, who ended up losing everything she had to a vicious cult that wears the trappings of Catholicism. A coward who wants very much to receive the Eucharist and wishes that everybody would receive the Eucharist, but who is so afraid of the wrath of God that she can’t even walk into the building where the Eucharist is right now. A person who wants more than anything to be a saint, but can’t talk to the saints for fear they’re angry with her. A person named Mary who wrote a book about Mary but keeps her icon of Mary in another room, because sleeping under it scares her. A failure in every way.

I think I just need rest right now.

If God is who I hope He is, He wouldn’t object to a little rest.

And we’ll see where we go from here

 

 

 

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

 

 


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