There, floating with these beautiful newfound sisters in the cool, emerald green water of the Frio River, amongst the tiny flickering fish and the long blades of grass, I felt my heart settle into the deep quiet. I didn’t have an ongoing grocery list running through my mind. I wasn’t worried about the kids and whether or not my husband had remembered the sunscreen. I did not even have to fight the insecurities that normally gnaw at me about my body in a swimsuit. No, for the first time in a great long while, I let go.
I have learned that on my own, in my response to the call of creation and the Creator, I am finite. I understand a few small truths and can reach only so far alone. I cannot teach myself all that I need to know and understand. When I find myself pushing the constraints of this finitude, I need the gifts of others to pull me through the fog into the next clearing. I will not reach my destination — nor even understand it — without them. I would like to. I long for independence and self-actualization. I want to do things on my own. But the fact is, I lack much.
Now, certainly I am grateful for the cheerful mechanic who diagnosed and replaced my broken alternator last Christmas Eve. And I owe a great deal to the tailor who salvaged the almost-brand new red leather shoes I’d spilled jojoba oil on. But that does not diminish my own satisfaction from improvising an oil plug gasket by sewing together part of a leftover ring from a battery-cleaning kit. Nor does it dim the delight of successfully building a new pad for a seatless chair frame I found on the street.
I had thought that this Catholic Mass would be so very different from the evangelical style of worship I was trying to take a break from. And I’d hoped, though I’d hardly admitted it to myself, that I might feel differently here, among the pillars and marble.
But too much of it was familiar — the anemic guitar, the warbly singers, the optimistic lyrics. Sitting uncomfortably among the singing believers a burn of anxiety scrambled up my esophagus. I was irritated. The air conditioning irritated me. The music irritated me. The congregation irritated me. And my headache showed no signs of abating. Communion was coming, I knew that much from reading ahead in the program. I began to plan my escape.
The shift happened slowly — over the course of the past five years as we added three children to our number and I found it more and more difficult to gather the energy to think clearly past 7:00 p.m. But it is unfair to blame entirely on parenthood the erosion of my thought life and the absence of any aspirations beyond surviving today. Perusing design blogs, Pinterest recipes, and perfectly staged photos of a stylized life is just easier than doing the real thing, and it always has been.