I told myself this day would be a day for staying put. There aren’t many staying put days.
I made a batch of blueberry muffins. I didn’t know if anyone would eat them, but I knew I would. The muffins came together quickly, but everyone else ate fast and furiously and was done before the muffins had come out of the oven. I was determined to move slow, even though I felt the quick current of family pace wanting to take me with it.
When the kitchen had been cleaned and the dishwasher was swirling I made myself a tray of “staying put.” I grabbed a small tray at first, but decided this called for lavish and over-the-top and a bit of broodiness to boot. So I got the black metal tray and collected necessities on top of it: Two muffins, 1 half-eaten and 1 uneaten. Three sticks of incense and an incense holder. A tiger lighter. A full Neverland mug of coffee with a hint of cream. A Shalom Auslander book entitled Beware of God. A leftover birthday party napkin with multi-colored polkadots. A yellow Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos candle.
I tucked a quilt under my arm, and told my kids I would be in the backyard if they needed me. I was still in my pajamas, a loose nightgown with creamy frill along the edges. I designated a spot for my dog to lay, (he is always my shadow) and then climbed into the comfy wicker chair with green cushions where I landed with an “umph.”
“And I’m not getting up until I’m done here,” I said to no one in particular.
The day before had been a tough one. I was implementing project Emergency Self Care.
I sighed deeply and then lit my candle and the first stick of incense. I yelled at the dog to stop sniffing at my muffins and then tore off a piece and gave it to him anyway because life can’t always be, “no, no, no.” There had been a lot of “no, no, no” to myself lately. I settled in for a long dose of “yesssssss.”
In the morning as the sun was still rising, the air was chilly and I used the quilt and coffee to stay comfortable. I read and read and collected words that could have been mine if I had ever felt freed up enough to say them, knowing full well, from research,that speaking this truthfully had cost this man quite a lot. You don’t question God and His authority without getting a little roughed up by His followers.
It is easier sometimes and healthy to let someone else do the talking for awhile. To let someone else take the flack, wear the bruises, and field the questions of: how could you and what were you thinking and you don’t really mean that, do you and when will you be over that?
I felt myself settling into this little cocoon Auslander had created for me, which is convenient during these moments when I still need to thrash from time to time but just soon not take the pummeling or the awkward silence that comes after the expression. He was bringing comedy to the horror. He was bringing the relief of laughter to the ache. It felt a lot like sipping on hot tea or chicken noodle soup after a 24-hour-stomach bug has left you shaky and depleted. It felt like a warm, strong shoulder to lean your head on and sturdy, nonjudgmental arms that pick you up and carry you into the house the night you had a little too much to drink.
As the sun was rising in the sky and I was lighting my third stick of incense and a couple beads of sweat were rolling down my chest and into my belly button, I had the notion that not only was I going to be able to finish reading this entire book, I was going to feel much better for it. It is hard to give up precious hours in a day to simply sit and flip pages, but oh my was I feeling so very cared for.
I had previously jotted down a list of the authors Auslander loved, and I vowed to look them up, find their books, make time to read them too. Dark humor is how so many of my favorite writers seem to be classified. What does this say? What does this say?
If we all self-medicate one way or another, this was me writing a prescription for future doses of healing. I can’t be alone with the thrashing voices, the MAD ones that will not go away, but seem to always get me into so much trouble. I need someone else to do the transcribing sometimes. I need someone else to say, “It is all very true and you’d be a fool not to acknowledge it as such.”’
“Their belief in their belief was unbelievable. They had complete faith in their faith. The only thing they doubted was doubt itself. There were two things, however, that everyone believed, no matter what they believed: Whatever they believed was unbelievably right, and what everybody else believed was unbelievably wrong.”
- Shalom Auslander, Beware of God