This Week in Spiritual Narcissism #15 - Holy Week
I had a plan for this week’s post. It was a big week, after all, motherfuckin’ Holy Week. Palm Sunday -> Maundy Thursday -> Good Friday -> Jesus Is Still Dead Saturday -> Easter Sunday.
I went to church on Thursday and Sunday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, because as a non-Christian it feels my closest thing to a home church. If I’m gonna go to church on Thursday, I want a CHANCE at enjoying it. I also took a woman I’ve been seeing, who hasn’t been to church in 7 years, and I wanted her to have a chance to enjoy it too. All Saints is as California as a traditional Protestant church gets.
A lot of good shit happened on that Thursday service that I was gonna pour out. It’s the service that commemorates the last night of Jesus’ life, and it was cool seeing it through a visitor’s eyes, and seeing the contrasts to the Presbyterian service I grew up with. The main distinctions were that All Saints was bi-lingual, had way less emphasis on the plot of Jesus’ betrayal, didn’t have this badass hymn during communion, and had an emphasis on footwashing.
And when I say “emphasis on footwashing”, I mean there is a ceremony where everyone in the congregation gets up, walks barefoot to the front, gets their feet washed, and then washes the feet of someone else. I thought the woman I took would not be down, but she said, “Fuck it, let’s do it.” I was proud of her bravery, and the ceremony was surprisingly moving. An old woman washed my feet with genuine care, and I had to wash the feet of a 10 year old girl, terrifying me because of how personal it felt, but she hugged me afterward and thanked me. Damn, God, was that you? u really up?
The whole point of this extremely well executed footwashing operation was that we are called to be servants for each other. Hell, half the congregation that night were involved in helping out some aspect of the service, proving their point. Being servants to each other is the basis of community, and beyond the community, we are called to be "servants of the world", as the disciples did when they gave up their ambitions of personal greatness.
And I must remind myself that being a “servant of the world” doesn’t mean you have to be grandiose, start a podcast, write about your “spiritual journey” (ugh), have a “message”, any shit like that. Just help out. Somewhere. Be of service. Bring your friend or lover or someone-who-doesn’t-want-to-be-called-anything a bottle of Nyquil when it’s out of your way. Listen to somebody. Just fuckin listen to somebody. Help when nobody’s watching. Do it when you’re getting no reward. Donate anonymously to your enemy or ex girlfriend (or both)’s kickstarter and never tell her. Love each other. Don’t keep score.
Before that, the pastor had a pretty solid homily, which was also delivered bi-lingually. The importance and power of touch, and Jesus’ touch, but how it was always 100% consensual. The dude even called out the Church specifically for harboring rapists, no hiding behind innuendo.
I took communion, too. I was gonna write about that. How it actually felt like it mattered to me this time. How I hadn’t taken communion in forever and made it a mild hangup but this felt transformative. None of it seemed to resonate as much with the woman I brought, and that’s okay. She wasn’t soaked in this shit like I was as a kid. Church is just one highly engineered way to Do God. For me, if the rest of the juice is good, I can get past any mentions of a literal Jesus, him being Our Lord. Others of us need things less literal, more improvised, less structured, unpolished, more alive.
And then! Oh shit, I had some great Easter shit I was gonna tell you. How I rebelled and DIDN’T take communion this time, because it went back to not feeling right. How I came late and left early, and had to sit crammed in the side with a bunch of church casuals that I judged, “Hah, didn’t see THEM on Maundy Thursday.” I was gonna write about how big of a production it was, about a hymn making me feel like I was back as a kid next to my mom and making me choke up a little, about the pastor’s anti-slut shaming sermon based on Maya Angelou’s “I Rise” which I needed to hear as a verified manwhore. About how I drove back home past everyone in their “Easter Best”, and how I realized my “Easter Best” is Love--Love as a process more than a feeling, a process that OVERCOMES feeling to do what is right to one another.
That was the post I wanted to write. You can imagine how poignant it would have been.
Instead, on Monday the dividends of being a manwhore came in the form of rejections. Not even severe rejections, just mild ones. One was arguably not even a rejection, but a distinct separation, “We are not as close as you want to be.” Still, I felt a suckerpunch of what had been a pretty good string of good times, and that last one stung extra hard. My head is saying, “Yo Heart! Tried to warn you! Still believe in love?” (Yeah, still do. Fuck.)
It's an odd situation I've gotten myself in. I have been casual with a number of people since my last relationship, with a few flirtations towards something more, with each of us taking turns ending it. I have rediscovered physical intimacy is bullshit compared to the intimacy that comes from sharing your true thoughts and actions and having somebody not judge them (thanks, counselor from S-Town). That's the one that the people I meet seem to struggle with. That's the one people freak out over. But that's the one I see as the gateway to the Real Deal that we're all looking for. At least I thought we were all looking for. Or worse, finding out someone may not ever be looking for that Real Deal with you.
So I'm in the midst of facing up that I may have more skeletons in my addiction closet than I realized, and maybe it is sex addiction, and maybe it is love addiction, and maybe it’s neither but some other hidden temple of trauma I haven’t addressed.
So I didn’t really have the post about all that church “in me” today. In the meantime, I thank all the artists who have washed my feet by sharing their pain. I don’t know if sharing mine would really wash yours, or if you would feel it’s so intimate it’s terrifying. For now, I’ll try to find other ways to help out.