Saturday, March 17, 2007

am I humanist?

My intellectual life is so dry right now that it seems like the most profound things I encounter are at my sunday church jobs - of which I've spoken often on this blog.

so, thursday, during choir rehearsal, the director is casually talking about his father during a break. Probably over 80 years old, the father is in a nursing home and, like all old people, has good days and bad days. Some evenings he can sit and eat his food by himself, knife and fork included. Other evenings he needs everything through a straw. And then there's the whole sit up, wipe your face, blow your nose, use the bathroom kind of things that are the last straws of independence. It must be hard to remain positive during old age.

I guess I'd like to be a little loopy by that time. Bring on the ferrets.*

So after talking about his father, the director is obviously choked up. We all kind of wait, not sure how to deal with the situation. And for me, the atmosphere is so other-worldly. I'm the youngest in the room by at least 25 years, with most of the choir members not far away from being in a nursing home themselves (just from the standpoint of age - not craziness). And in that moment, there was this communal sense of pain, empathy, experience, compassion, regret, sympathy, reverence. all somehow bound up together. I was touched.

And then back to our Cantata - one based on the familiar "Calvary's Love." The director asks, "Does everyone have 'Calvary's Love?'" The pastor points to his heart, "Yes I have it here," smiling, pleased with the word connection, his spiritual pun, a religious warm fuzzy after such a poignant moment.

And this pastor always talks with the happy jesus, father God, oratory, soliloquy, glad to hear your own profound words, kind of voice. (I'm trusting it's all real.)

Maybe we needed a light comment to change the mood, but I know wasn't ready to let go of the depth in that moment. I felt like I needed to slowly work my way out of it - not straight to the surface.

So, but in that moment I felt like the human element was so much more divine than the 'religious'.

So much.

*a story from my grandmother - ask me about it - she has some crazy stories.

1 comment:

Zaak said...

I've been reading a lot about how religion has condemned humans as so wicked ("all have sinned...") with out acknowledging the valid emotions and innately good ability to connect with eachother and God (through Christ, sure). I really liked your interpretation of what happened. Very raw.

if I send you a book, will you read it with me (like at the same time, not together over the shoulder)?