Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Moment Is Not My Moment

You all might be proud of me, I just got back from another retreat and managed not to cry! Or kill anyone! Or come back and slide into another puddle of paralyzing depression! Is this a sign!? Is this a SIGN FROM GOD!?

Ah, I think it’s more about the fact that the retreat was quite small, and God wasn’t the sole focus. It was the kickoff for the Act Two screenwriting class, (it was in Idyllwild, quaint little town in the mountains between Los Angeles and Palm Springs), there’s only eight of us students there, and I THINK the idea was for us to get to know each other before we’re separated into groups of four for the rest of the time. I’m a little unclear, because we didn’t do a lot of writing (well, I did, but it was late late at night), there weren’t a lot of talks, and we spent a majority of the time eating. Three meals a day. Blarf, blarf blarfy.

But there was one talk that got my hackles up was the one where Group Leader wanted us to go around the room and share “The one moment or timeframe in your life where Jesus became real for you.”

Ah hell. As we all know, I don’t have a moment or timeframe like that. I wonder if that means I fail. You know how some writers (or actors, or anyone who’s successful at what they’re doing) feel like sometimes the Person Who’s In Charge is gonna stomp in and unmask them, “You FRAUD! At last I have apprehended you! You have not escaped my notice, and I denounce you as talentless to the WORLD!” I feel like that at these retreats. No, I have not had my Special Shiny Jesus Moment, Ergo, I Must Not Be A Christian, Ergo, I Must Not Believe Enough, Ergo, I Must Not Be Doing Something Right, I Am Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

So round the circle we go, with everyone sharing their Special Shiny Jesus Moment, except for the one girl who says she doesn’t feel Jesus so much as she feels God, but she had a Special Shiny God Moment to contribute.

Gentle Reader, you understand by now that I’m not knocking these stories, right? You understand that I’m super green with envy, because they’ve encountered Jesus and/or God, and I’m still floundering in dark waters, right? The stories are nifty, compact, tied with ribbons of understanding. This is How I Met My Husband, This Is How I Became a Christian, This Is How I Was Crippled With Doubt And He Pulled Me Through, This Is How I Heard Him Calling Me To This New Career.

I don’t have a story. My story is still in progress, and I WISH I had a ribbon of understanding to tie the whole thing up with because right now it looks like a half-baked mess. And I know, I know, we’re still baking the thing, but you know what? We’ve been baking for years and years. I might be overdone and crusted over at this point, can we pull me out of the oven please? I’m not saying God hasn’t been there for me, because He has. But surely, there’s going to be a bigger, much more important story I can tell than God Gave Me A Job, or God Sent Me People To Fix My Car.

(A funny sidenote. Wella, the savior who fixed my car, is in the room, and when he goes back to his cabin, Stella asked him how the talk went and he reportedly said, “Amy did NOT like that talk.”)

I even start to feel the tiny prick of tears behind my eyes. Oh no. You are NOT going to start crying to a small group of people because you don’t have a moment where God and/or Jesus was real for you. No you don’t, no you don’t. I’m over this whole Crying Over The Absence of God business anyway. Grow up. You don’t have to have a Special Shiny Jesus Moment to be a writer, and that’s what you’re here for. So suck it up, punk. Be yourself, be honest, and THINK OF SOMETHING TO SAY RIGHT NOW!

So I do. I say I don’t have a moment. I say that’s why I started the blog (so if anyone who was in the room is now here reading the thing, HI! HI! HI! I’M SURE I’LL SAY SOMETHING OFFENSIVE IN THE NEXT SIX MONTHS AND I’M APOLOGIZING FOR IT NOW!) that I’m still searching for connection, la la la.

And then I share a moment. But it’s not mine. It’s Kate Braestrup’s (and yes, I gave her full credit.) She’s got a story, it’s an awesome, poignant one. She was married to a police officer who was killed in the line of duty, and searching for meaning, she became ordained as a Unitarian-Universalist minister and was installed as chaplain to the Maine Warden Service. She accompanies officers on search and rescue missions in the woods and lakes all over the state, to minister to the ones awaiting word on their lost loved ones, to the people searching for them, and to the bodies they pull out.

She wrote a book, it’s called “Here If You Need Me,” and it’s about grief, love, and miracles. In one recollection, she’s sitting with a brother whose sister had committed suicide in the woods. The brother says that his sister had attended a church the week before where the pastor said that suicide was the one sin that God never ever forgave. What does Kate think? So this is what Kate says:

“Look around…the game wardens have been walking in the rain all day, walking through the woods in the freezing rain trying to find your sister. They would’ve walked all day tomorrow, walked in the cold rain for the rest of the week, searching for (her) so they could bring her home to you. And if there is one thing I am sure of – one thing that I am very, very sure of - it is that God is not less kind, less committed, or less merciful than a Maine game warden.”

That really hit hard for me, the idea that God would care that much, even if I’m not lost or dead in the Maine woods (I might be, metaphorically speaking, but let’s stay literal today.)

Then I said that God seems to be the most real to me when I hear other people talking about Him, and what He’s done in their lives. I did not mention the green envy pearls that usually follow, but but but He’s there for THEM! Why isn’t He here for ME!? Because that’s the bratty two year old inside of me. They’ll figure out that brat’s there soon enough. No need to unveil her quite yet.

Group Leader nodded, and we moved on with the rest of the weekend. We ate more food. We took an hour hike in the Idyllwild woods, in thirty second intervals so we could be alone in our literal walk with God. No, nobody got lost. And no, God didn’t talk to me, even though I invited Him to, and didn’t clog the airwaves with my usual litany of requests and prayers for myself and other people. I was silent, I walked, and nothing happened. But it’s okay. I’m used to it by now.

Enforced Secret Joy #51 – Housesitting for Basil and Ginger Puppy again! It’s the annual two and a half week gig, and all construction in the backyard is finished! Meaning the pool, the hottub, the cabana, they’re all MINE! This is the view from the cabana when I write. And that lump o’ fur is Ginger Puppy, waiting for me to put the computer down and pet her. As usual.

1 comment:

Allison said...

Congrats on Act Two!

They're all God's moments, anyway, right? :)