A Concert, a Dance, and Christianity

A Concert, a Dance, and Christianity May 19, 2024

a violin sitting on a messy stack of sheet music
image via Pixabay

 

Last night I went dancing.

This was because of the Baker Street Irregulars, Adrienne’s old friends who live at the corner. There were only five Baker Street Irregulars when they moved into the rental house, and now there are at least six, but they never hold still long enough to be counted. The middle child of the Baker Street Irregulars, the one who saw God, is a musician. I didn’t know this until she came pelting up to my porch on Monday all out of breath, holding her violin case. Her wonderful stepfather is still saving up for a car and her mother and grandmother don’t drive. She’d lost her ride to after school orchestra class at the last moment, with lessons every afternoon this week and a recital Friday night. I agreed to chauffer her for the week, and pick up her cousin on the next block who plays the violin as well. I like to be a patron of the arts.

On Friday, the Middle Child informed me that she was staying all evening at the church where the lessons were held, but that I was welcome to come to the orchestra recital. “It don’t cost anything and you don’t have to buy a ticket!”

I was happy to come.

I tried to sit in the front row so I could cheer her on, but the second youngest Baker Street Irregular had walked all the way downtown with her grandmother to watch the concert. If I’d known they were stuck doing that, I would have offered them a ride in the first place. She was sitting in the church pew right next to me, overtired from her walk, loudly asking to watch videos on my phone. She couldn’t possibly keep still.

I didn’t want her to spoil her sister’s big debut with a tantrum.

“Come on,” I whispered. “Dance ballet with me.”

She scampered out, and we two listened to the first few of the orchestra’s pieces, dancing and twirling to the music in the foyer, with the door propped slightly. Then she scampered back to sit with her grandmother. I got to sit down to catch my breath.

I have always wanted a social life, and I’ve never really managed it. Humans come and go like ghosts, and I don’t fit in. I’ve heard other autistic people say that’s what happens to them as well. I’ve been especially lonely the past year.

I have always wanted a family that wasn’t toxic. I’ve tried, in the most ridiculous ways, to belong in one. It’s never worked. It’s always been a catastrophe.

I always longed for a house full of happy children, and I didn’t get one of my own, but it’s pleasant that they live down the block and know they can ask me for things. I was honored to go to the concert.

I’ve always wanted to be a help to people. Everything I do goes wrong, but I’ve always tried.

A long time ago now, I had a vivid dream. And I don’t think this dream was some kind of spiritual revelation. I think my brain was doing a good job of making plain to me something I’d always known to be true but hadn’t had the ability to articulate. I dreamed I was touring a beautiful farmhouse that I wanted to buy. It had shiny wood floors, a convenient kitchen with lots of cupboards, and a weird little closet in the back that turned out to be the butler staircase. I’ve always been fascinated by houses with a front and back staircase, and wished I had one of my own. But in this house, Saint Teresa of Avila was sitting on the bottom  step of the butler staircase in her billowing Carmelite habit.

I got on my knees and put my head in her lap and cried, and she just let me be there for awhile. The thing I have longed for forever, more deeply than longing for a big family or a social life, is a mother who would just let me be there without fighting to change me and fix me and make me into something loveable.

After awhile, Sant Teresa explained that she was starting a new religious order where people were sent out to live in the world, in their houses, just saying their prayers and doing good to everyone who came to them. And I got a little cross with her and said “but that’s just ordinary Christianity!” and I woke up.

I have always believed that: that Christianity is just living in your house, or your apartment or your cell or your hospital bed, in communion with God, and being good to everyone who comes to you. It isn’t joining a clique, though it’s nice if you can. It isn’t belonging in a family, though it ought to be. It isn’t wearing a religious habit or having a cloister to live in or having a mission or an apostolate, though many Christians have found their path doing those things.  It’s just living your life, in Christ, and helping the people who come to you.

I’m bad at Christianity, but I feel like I’m getting a bit better.

Somehow, despite everything I’ve been through in the past year, I feel like I’m becoming a Christian.

The recital was remarkably good.

After it was over, I clapped the loudest of everyone. I asked the grandmother of the Baker Street Irregulars if she had a ride home. She said she didn’t, but she was used to walking and liked it. I stuffed the car with as many Baker Street Irregulars as I legally could, which was only three. The littlest Baker Street Irregular fell asleep on the short trip back to LaBelle, and her sister who isn’t much bigger insisted on carrying her into the house.

I think I like Christianity.

 

 

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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