There are days that we should pay attention to, learn about ourselves, grow, discover, and absorb all our experiences around us. Then there are other days that you just need to get through. Today is one of my other days. There are things I have to do today, even if I don\’t feel well (which I don\’t) and even if I\’m exhausted (which I am). There are days when we are too tired, worn down, stressed, broken-hearted, sick, injured, burnt out to really seize the day or think about the bigger picture or make connections. Those are the days where you put your game face on and plow on through. It makes me think of parents who work long hard hours just to put food on the table for their children or a mother who\’s child is sick. You can\’t just say, \”it\’s my day off….I need time for self-reflection…where do I fit in and belong here…etc.\” No, you have to stay up with that sick kid, or go to work (no matter how numbingly mindless it is) and make it through the day.
I do think there is a sense of beauty to days like this though. It\’s very human. It\’s the hierarchy of needs…if I\’m physically exhausted, it doesn\’t matter how self-actualized I try to be, I need sleep and will not be able to really engage in anything until that need is fulfilled. No matter how \”free\” we might hope to be, there are certain forces that not even the most disciplined of minds can escape from. And this brings me to a topic I have thought a lot about recently as far as the church is concerned. Now, I\’m going to say something that will instantaneously cause people to be outraged at my blaspheme. But, hear me out.
I think the church is too divine and spiritual.
Now that some of you think I\’m destined for the firey enviornment of Gehenna, I\’ll explain to you my reasoning. The church was created because there was a fundamental need in the people for religion. There is something about the particular institution of the church that isn\’t fulfilled in the family or in education or in the government or other sociological institutions. The church was created by people, for people. The people were not created for the church. It\’s a place to fulfill some of the most human of all needs. Back in the day, before media, and globalization and the industrial revolution, people literally got all their information from the church. They learned about the news, they celebrated holidays, they formed unions, etc. Their entire LIVES surrounded the church. It wasn\’t only fulfilling a \”spiritual\” need but was the essence to their survival in their community. Even if you weren\’t particualrly spiritual, which I would take a gander that I\’m sure some were not, the church was still your everything.
It makes me think of Christmas. It is my belief that it is fundamental to our survival as human beings to have holidays and festivals. It gets us through those days, gives us something to look forward to, unites us with our past, bonds us with our kin. Many sociological reasons holidays exist. Now, was Jesus born in December? History suggests probably not (the census wouldn\’t have been in the middle of winter.) But, there was a pagan holiday during that time, so they put it there you might say. But why was there a pagan holiday in the middle of winter? Because it is dark, and cold, and there\’s no food in the middle of winter. If we DIDN\’T have a holiday in the middle of winter, how could we get through it? Studies show people wait until after big events or holidays to die….interesting. That\’s a human reason. And we need those human reasons, or we\’ll get disconnected from the church, like I see happening now. The church has become a merely \”spiritual\” place for many people, a \”divine\” place. But we are not divine. Our needs are not the divine\’s needs. We need a sense of belonging, food, to go to the bathroom, coping strategies, do our dishes, etc. We are humans and the church was meant for humans, no matter how imperfect they are. My personal belief is that the church is not just for religion, but it\’s a lifestyle. I would say that Catholicism is just as much as a cultural identity as it is a religion. I\’ve been fascinated lately with how to put the human back in church and how to find a balance that works for me, because the constant focus on the divine is not working for me. It\’s just as much about community, my history, my lifestyle, my culture as it is about my personal connection with a deity. Maybe if more people thought about the human element in church, the world would be just a little less judgmental.
So today, as one of the days where I can\’t bring myself to do anything else, my goal is very practical and simple: to go to class and get back to Austin in one piece so I can sleep and hopefully have a better day tomorrow.
\”If you can\’t answer all the why\’s cause you\’re to tired to reach that high, I want you to, I need you to remember: If you ever need me you know where to find me.\” – Matthew West