a little bit of church, a whole lotta breakdown

I have found myself in churches several times over the last few weeks.  This hasn’t happened in the past decade, and unfortunately is not as a part of a great tour through a foreign country- my typical reason for going to a church.  However, for someone who is not religious, I’ve had a disporportionate enthusiasm for churches for all of my adult life (with special fondness towards Catholic ones in particular).  I like the beauty.  I like the sacred energy.   I like the calmness.  Of course, I also like temples, shrines and synagogues.  I’m not that picky.  

During the last few weeks, I come to these quiet places of worship, not even places that come from my own spiritual tradition or necessarily represent my own thoughts or beliefs on the matter.  I become like a cracked egg, a split watermelon, a ruptured orb.  Whatever I delicately hold inside, in some dark and locked-down space, comes spilling forth. Hot tears flow, and I cry from my belly.  And why here, in these quiet, beautiful places that honor a higher power that is not even necessarily of my understanding? I don’t know.  Maybe I feel safe there. They are definitely peaceful places.

In case you were wondering, MD Anderson has a lovely chapel.  Today, Native American flute music was playing on a boombox in the corner, and the altar was covered with candles, setting off a warming yellow light.  But there wasn’t a single Kleenex to be found in the entire place, and I had to go snot-faced to the cafeteria to find some napkins.  And what would I put on a comment card, if there were any? Need better supplies for emotional upheaval!  But thanks for the candle and flute music, liked them alot.

4 thoughts on “a little bit of church, a whole lotta breakdown

  1. Laura Bush


    I’ve taken a moment out of my day to read your blog, get present to your experience of your mother’s journey with cancer, and be inspired, educated, and even, dare I say it considering the gravity of the subjects you’re addressing, very entertained by what you write. I admire your authenticity, your humor, your humanity. Amazing. Thank you for sharing and for being what I imagine is a very important person in your mother’s and your family’s life at this moment. As always, sending energy you and your mother’s way.

  2. peggy olson

    Oh my gosh we are so-o-o-o related. During church I’m soggy with tears, but well supplied with tissue. During yoga I’m a melting pillar flowing into what I want to be a gateway to health and happiness. I believe it’s when your brain is calm, the body can reveal it’s sorrow. Cancer sucks.

  3. Barb in Minnesota

    You have a beautiful way with words. I was very moved by this post as I tend to tear up in places of worship, yet find no comfort in organized religion. But I know what you mean about the feeling of safeness in these places. All through our last trip to Italy Ray and I lit candles for your mom in every church and Cathedral we entered. It felt like the right thing to do.
    Keep writing – you have gift.
    Love, Barb

  4. Stacy

    Know I’m sitting with you from here. If I was sitting with you in proximity, I would offer a hug and some tissues. The good kind. We brought our own, because the only thing worse than being snot-faced at a hospital is being snot-faced with a chapped nose.

    Give your wonderful mama a squeeze from me — I’m thinking of you both.


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