When Things Get Hairy

The Sunday before my oldest son’s birthday we decide to meet him along with the rest of the kids after church at our favorite restaurant to celebrate. My husband asked me on the way to church, which I was attending for the first time in a very long while “You having the chicken fried steak?”

It’s what I always order when we go to this place for breakfast. It’s to die for: yummy goodness on a plate. I say “Hell no. That meal is ruined forever for me. Have you forgotten about that horrible day?” My stomach does a sickish little turn at the mere thought of chicken fried steak.

He looks at me with total amazement. “Are you kidding me? You’re letting one little incident ruin the best breakfast in Spokane?”

Now, if this were a flashback scene a survivor was having in a horror movie, you would hear the foreboding music that plays just before someone is about to be slashed with a machete by some creepy masked guy. The camera would first zoom in on a big, black hair that sat right on top of my gravy in perfect corkscrew form which made me feel CERTAIN it was a pubic hair. Then the camera would pan in on my face, horror in my glazed over eyes, lips thin and pale but stoically resolving to not scream. I wave my hand for the waitress who comes over quickly. “What can I get you love?”

“Could I have a double bloody Mary with extra olives?” I ask, trying to keep my eyes on her face and not look at the glaring abomination that has ruined my $14.95 breakfast.

“Sure thing honey!” and she trots off to get my drink.

My husband asks “Why didn’t you just tell her there is a hair on your food?”

“If I say something, then all they will do is take the plate back to the kitchen and take the hair off and maybe throw some more gravy on my plate, nuke it in the microwave and serve it right back to me. And that’s only if they feel BAD about the hair being there. If they think I’m a brat they will leave the hair and just cover it with gravy. And even if they did give me a new plate, I’d always wonder if they really had. No. The damage is done.”

“You have serious trust issues. Do you maybe need to see someone for this?”

“Look, I know that I probably eat plenty of other people’s hairs all the time without knowing it. But the emphasis for me is on the NOT KNOWING. Once I KNOW it’s just all over. See? So I understand that in reality this is not a big deal and if I were a mentally strong person I would pick the hair off and carry on with eating. But I am NOT strong in this category. No sense complaining about something that is my issue, unless of course the cook put that hair there on PURPOSE. But just thinking that would mean I am paranoid and just plain weird. So I am going to drink my breakfast and carry on. And YES I have guilt for wasting food. But that is a whole different issue.” The waitress brings me my new and improved breakfast and I raise it in a toast while my husband shrugs and digs into his food. He knows I am a lost cause.

Enter us, birthday breakfast day, into church. The prodigal daughter and her husband, the holy one who doesn’t let hairs get in the way of his enjoyment in life.

As I knelt down to try and pray, the hair incident stayed on my mind. Why did I so often let little things stop me from experiencing joy? I listened to the readings and then to the heartfelt homily from the priest who was new to our parish, or at least to me, the fallen one, and a swoosh of warm, delicious peace came over me. And as I returned to kneeling position in overwhelming, goose-bump awe after receiving communion, I realized I had I let my distaste for the previous priest, hold me back from witnessing a perfect place of Human/God connectivity.

Now keep in mind, I’m a convert to the Catholic faith and I have it in my mind that converts are looked upon by cradle Catholics in the same way people with new found riches are viewed by “old money” families: we simply don’t know how to use our riches properly and our ways of enjoying those riches are often frowned upon. But we newbies don’t really care. One example for me is that not going to Mass has never created a whole lot of guilt for me. I have always known, since I was a little girl that God wants us to WANT to hang out with Him, wherever we find ourselves. Going to church simply for fear of eternal damnation has always seemed counterproductive. Plus, no one wants to hang out with a friend who clearly would rather be somewhere else than with you. Right?

And this is the double edged loophole logic along with the excuse of disliking how another human spun HIS connectivity to God that I used to to stop attending mass for so long that I forgot how good it felt to go and got to a point that I no longer had the thirst to do so.

Funny the hell we can create for ourselves without any help from the devil. But grace is pretty bad ass and takes on all kinds of forms to open up our hearts. Sometimes in the shape of a yucky black hair on gravy.

Later at breakfast my husband raised one eyebrow when I ordered the chicken fried steak and a bloody mary with NO olives. On account of the fact that I was feeling pretty filled up.

Jesus Eggs and Other God Mullings on Easter Sunday

eggs

The monotonous act of peeling three-dozen hard boiled Easter eggs this morning (to make deviled-eggs) made me wonder a couple of things:

What makes one egg peel easier than another? Why do some resist, chip by stubborn little chip, giving up their colorful shells while other eggs are stripped so easily down to their soft, vulnerable insides? Is it from their placement in the boiling water? Do mellow chickens lay easier to peel eggs than old haggard cranky hens? Do certain colors of dye alter the strength of the shell?

And which of these is the more favorable:  the easy to peel egg or the resistant egg? Are we talking about modest, hard to get eggs versus promiscuous eggs; tenacious versus yielding eggs; or thick-headed compared to open hearted eggs?

I REALIZE that eggs don’t have personalities. This is another garbled attempt at METAPHOR people.   

But why do we call them deviled-eggs? Maria said she thought we should call them Jesus eggs which sounds kind of crass, so I researched it and it seems the word “deviled” is an 18th century word referencing  food that is spicy or zesty. So I have to agree with her that we should call them Jesus eggs. First, He was always feeding people; second, He was able to spice up the mundane; though the devil probably takes more people to the dark side than is realized with his soft, subtle whispers that the mundane holds no value or joy.

And this made me ponder what a crap Catholic I sometimes am, especially during Lent. This year was by far the WORST EVER 40 days for me in terms of any kind of spiritual growth: I didn’t even PRETEND to be working toward holiness. I dug my heels in and worked on perfecting a few of the seven deadly sins.

And I didn’t go to church one time from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, which is no light sin my people…high heels in deep, thick mud, which is really bad for your shoes and other things.

I don’t really know why I fight so hard against spiritual conversion, especially during Lent. But here is a thought that I have been mulling over. The other day I witnessed a man on the streets. My guess was that he was in his mid-thirties. He wore groovy, kind of pimped up clothing: a plaid vest, leather coat, nicer jeans and a fedora. He had blonde hair, a smooth, shiny complexion and would have looked healthy were it not for his sunken mouth caused by lack of teeth. He was waiting for the walk sign to flash and was as high as a kite, blissfully grinning and stand-still dancing, flapping his arms around, the joyful buzz of whatever drug he was on making it hard to be contained in his skin.

Now, I know this is in poor taste (by stating that, it makes it at least look like I care) but I could not help but feel sort of envious of his current state of mind, even IF it was FALSE and chemically, illegally and HARMFULLY induced. Because while the after-crash was going to be total agony for him, he was for sure in current state of euphoria that in the moment did not contain an ounce of mundane.

While I am a no drug expert, I HAVE experienced some pretty amazing moments of elation. To name a few: the birth of my children; hearing a song that calls to my heart; closing a sale; writing something that says perfectly what I mean; and yes, the intense, knock me to my knees moments after receiving The Eucharist.  But to sustain these highs is impossible. We’d be exhausted. See? And it’s frustrating.

We for sure TRY to keep that high: some with drugs and alcohol, others with caffeine, sugar, exercise, sex and yes…spirituality. But all of these things we humans cling to as a means to feel GOOD inevitably end in a low, by comparison,  which is hard to take when you have been so high you can hardly be contained by your own skin.

There were saints to whom God gave these amazing visions and I can only imagine that it must have felt more euphoric than a thousand doses of any kind of drug.  No mundane in THAT kind of high. But the lack of God, or at least the lack of feeling or seeing God, which is an inevitable part of every human journey, had to be completely soul shattering for someone who has had more than just a glimpse of God. These saints, however, were able to sustain faith through what had to feel dreary and dull and dark, because DUH, they were saints.

I, however, am no saint. Nor am I a drug addict (which is good). I am a moody Christian who often lacks conviction when faced with monotony, which, let’s face it, is a pretty standard part of life for most of us. So, sometimes, especially during Lent, I pout, ignore God, eat Pringles and watch back to back episodes of “Hoarders: Buried Alive” until my ass hurts and say “Yeah? So what? Your point to all of this monotony would be WHAT? ”

But here’s the thing: God is a sneaky, conniving intervener and patient when it comes to peeling shells. And He uses people to help pull heels out of the mud: drug addicts, saints,  hoarders, teenagers who go to confession on their own and “feel less stressed out after” and little children who build churches at your feet out of Lincoln logs complete with a tabernacle and convince you to turn off the television, step away from the Pringles, put some shoes on and go to Easter Vigil, even if it’s just so there is less guilt and more time for the combat Easter egg hunt the next morning and Jesus eggs later… which by the way have never tasted so zesty.

Happy Easter everyone!

Risen