real lj idol | week 1 | 390 words
When you pray, move your feet
My grandmother wanted better for us—hoped that a holy atmosphere might permeate our spirits, or some gospel-gilded phrase might reach our ears and light the spark of dormant grace.
Dressed in the dour colors of her church, she joined her flock each week. An assemblage more of crows than cardinals, they gathered to hear litanies of human failings and the stark promises of forgiveness. My sister and I were offered Sunday School instead, where bible-based crafts projects culminated in fruit punch and outdoor play. It never held up to climbing the apple trees in my grandmother's yard, or the sweetness of her canned cherries, or the mysterious piles of crisply curled wood shavings waiting to be discovered in my grandfather's workshop.
My grandmother's hopes formed a delicate dance that never quite ended. She took us to church a few times each year (Did she bide her requests against my parents' refusals? I'll never know). I went because it mattered to her. I didn't need to understand the desperation behind it.
What you believe is up to you, my parents said. Neither of them made it out of childhood with the faith their families clung to, but they thought we might be luckier. Believe if you can, they said, it's always so much easier.
My grandmother's bleak brand of Methodism never did take hold. Trips to friends' churches were the same: struggling to keep the restlessness inside during prayers I could no more speak than any other kind of lie. Every sermon centered on the message of Redemption was like a salesman hawking pitches for a car that would not run.
Still, I leave the door open—always open—though no one comes through. Others hear jubilation, but the distant wind has no words for me.
I've been asked whether it is lonely, or empty, or strange, but those questions are rooted in false assumptions: you cannot miss what you never had.
Above, nothing waits and nothing listens. There is only the bright comfort of the sun and the possibility of tomorrow.
For some of us, that is enough.