Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lent reprise

So, this is the third blog post I wrote about Lent. The other two, I took down, because one outgrowth of my two Lenten practices is my desire to stop being so negative -- a desire one might describe as a critical need. I mean, if one wanted to be accurate, and saw me on the floor at work last night, almost yelling at a coworker, "Figure out which team I have, I have ALL the [effing] teams!"

Which is not good behavior. Which I do not want to do again. Which I expressed in a (slightly) less humiliating and appalling, equally cathartic way a few hours later, when, still at work, I buried my face in my hands and said: I feel like I've been asking for help all day and no one will help me.

The details of why my day became so horrible are pretty inconsequential. Sometimes the best grace can manage for me is to gently turn my chin away from how I have been wronged and towards how I could have done better. Since I am optimistic that it might also spare me any embarrassing fallout for a day I'm quite ready to forget about and never, never, never revisit, I won't detail those specific rooms for improvement here, but I will say that, I hope on my next really horrible day I can maintain some perspective and not yell or swear.

And while I have no freaking idea what most of the New Testament, which I read in its entirety for Lent, is about, I do feel like consistent exposure to it, combined with a somewhat more selective reading practice (less --almost no! -- Jezebel and more books by bell hooks and Richard Wright and Roxane Gay) and a No Facebook clause have helped.

Is God real?

Um. Maybe? Less real than, say, my son or my husband or my inevitable demise, maybe. But certainly more real than most of the shit  stuff I think about. As it turned out, I punched out at 11:29 last night from a shift that "ended" at eight, but the cataclysm I imagined when I was ranting at my colleagues was actually not real when I stopped looking at it. I went to the nursing office, apologized for getting done so late, and was treated kindly -- which, honestly, was all I actually wanted for most of the day anyway.

That is real: my desire for kindness. My need to feel loved. My desire to be heard. And the thing that pulls me towards Christianity is the idea of a God who comes to Earth with the unique purpose of redirecting us towards those needs and desires in one another. Who says, my kingdom actually looks like people attending to the things that we know are real, that don't require apologetics.

I don't know if I'm a good nurse or not. But I do know that in the horrible sixteen hour shitshow  Feces Spectacular that made up my day yesterday, I made sure that my wonderful eighty-seven year old patient got home safely, the name on her prescriptions correctly spelled (ratio of things "we can't fix" to things for which there actually exists no solution: HUGE!), as opposed to wandering off the unit to find her own ride. Her lipstick looked beautiful. I know that an hour of my late time was spent helping the oncoming shift settle her patients when I still hadn't charted anyone's admissions, because while nursing is twenty four hours, that truism entered my consciousness some twenty five years after the one about treating others how you want to be treated.

Those things are real, and Jesus says they matter, enough that He has this whole kingdom that's all about those things. And a lot of people I love a lot don't seem to really care much about God, one way or the other, and I wonder, often, if I'm just missing something they all get. But none of the things they care about seem as real to me as do the things Jesus cares about.

I don't know about the Resurrection and the Life, in part because I am so emotionally invested in it that honestly, I don't really care if it stands up as a truth claim or not. But I do know that I want to live in a kingdom in which people's primary concern is recognition of, and care for, those around them. And the God in whom I believe without really trying is a God who would show up in sandals, without a mortgage or a five year plan, saying: look, I can show you where this kingdom is. It's actually the only substantial thing you're going to find here.