Thursday, November 18, 2010
On the edge of cynicism:
I’ll be the 1st to admit that when someone starts talking about Jesus as their savior and quoting the bible my 1st reaction is a giant eye roll. It’s an unstoppable reflect. I don’t know why. I believe in God and Jesus. I respect all religions. I don’t mean to be cynical. I try to think back and I try figure out what has made me this jaded that I would roll my eyes at the Lord’s words and I have nothing. (*Actually I just rolled my eyes at typing that phrase “The Lord’s words”). I guess it evokes mental images of the extremes. Extremes you are only exposed to with age because I don’t recall sitting in church when I was little and rolling my eyes. When I was little I would go to church with my grandmother. She was a deacon in her church. Church was a place of utmost respect. She always made you stand up straight and sit up straight. You had to sit with your ankles crossed and your hands folded on your lap. There was no acting up. There was no fussing and there was no fidgeting. If you fussed, if you fidgeted or if you slouched you got a pinch on your leg. A good pinch! I guess it was an old fashioned form of shock therapy delivered with a stern scowl by Grandma H. But it worked. There you were drifting off into space, starting to slouch and PINCH! Or if you started fidgeting, tapping your foot, playing with your hands: PINCH! It got to the point where if Grandma H just slightly moved you automatically became erect and still in your seat.
And my respect for the church was evident this Sunday when I returned to church for the 1st time after my miscarriage. Now mind you, I am not a regular "church goer", but I didn’t go into church rolling my eyes. Although I do find the whole shaking of everyone’s hands and saying “The Peace of something or other be with you” a little corny, I am not checking out the backs of my eyelids when Pastor Don reads the scripture. I listen intently. I sit up straight with my ankles crossed and my hands folded on my lap. But then again Pastor Don doesn’t just drone on and on reading passage after passage from the Bible. He reads one or two small passages and then goes into how they pertain to life with amusing stories, funny anecdotes etc. all relating back to the lesson of that scripture. I don’t know if all Pastors/Reverends/Priests do this. I don’t recall if Reverend L did this when I was little but then again I was too busy focusing on sitting up straight, crossing my ankles, folding my hands on my lap and not fidgeting. Doing all of that and in my mind trying to finding a way to do it while sleeping! So at church today when I would feel myself slouch I would sit up straight, cross my ankles and fold my hands on my lap. When I would start to fidget I would sit up straight, cross my ankles and fold my hands on my lap. I was not rolling my eyes. So, if anything church makes me sit up straighter!
I will admit that I am not “up to date” on the proper rituals of the church. This was evident when I went to a Catholic Church for the first time with my ex Sio for his Aunt’s funeral and thought that the kneeler was a footrest. Yup I asked him, in the middle of the funeral, if he would like me to put the footrest down. And with a look of confusion and then amusement he goes: “What?” and I said: “The footrest…would you like me to put the footrest down?” and through his laughter he says: “It’s a kneeler. You kneel on it to pray!” So, of course now as I look around the church I notice several women kneeling and praying. We laughed. We laughed out loud in church but continued to pray! And I never felt like rolling my eyes once that day. But then again the whole sermon was in Spanish so I had no idea what the priest was saying.
Even 2 years ago when my beloved Grandma H passed away and my sisters, cousins, aunt, mom and myself were sitting in church, the same church Grandma H brought me to when I was little, I didn’t feel jaded by God’s words. I felt at home. Right at home considering that my sisters, my cousins and I burst out laughing in the middle of the church. The Reverend was preparing to start the service and he went to move the collection plates out of the way. As a joke he passed the collection plate to my sister M. The looks, and I say looks because her face went through a couple of emotions in about a minute, were hysterical. First she was like “Oh” and she starts looking in her purse for money and then her face was kind of pleading like “someone give me some money” and then it went to anger like “How dare you ask for a collection at my Grandma’s funeral” and then the Reverend let her off the hook and said with a smile “I’m just kidding” and we lost it. Burst out laughing until my Aunt N yells “Girls! We are in a church!” I felt at home. So, why do I have this unstoppable reaction to roll my eyes …
And church isn’t the only place I do it. I roll my eyes at sappy songs. I find Rascal Flats way too whiney for my tastes. You’re a bunch of guys. Quit whining and act like a man! And I truly want to throw Celine Dion overboard every time I hear that song from the Titanic.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not without feelings. I bawled my eyes out several times during Homeward Bound when the dogs and kitty cat get lost and are trying to find their way home. I cried like a baby when ET’s heart light started glowing beneath the clear plastic, alien body bag.
So what is it? What constitutes my eye roll?
Do I direct my cynicism to certain aspects of my life because it reflects areas in my life where I’ve been burned? That is a justifiable assumption. I’ve been burned more than once in love and God and I are still working on some serious burns.
Maybe being cynical is really a protection reflect? If I keep everything at arms distance in the “seeing is believing” mode I won’t get crushed when it doesn’t come into my view.
And if I get burned on my last IVF cycle will I then become cynical about A.R.T or older woman trying to have babies? Will I roll my eyes at their stories instead of providing my insightful (and witty) advice?
If I do not get pregnant, if I never carry a child will I forever be jaded and cynical about pregnancy and birth? Will I completely lose myself in anger and resentment?
I like who I am. I like that I can find humor in trying situations. I like that I can celebrate and rejoice. There is actually a part of me that doesn’t want to move forward. That doesn’t want to do this last IVF cycle because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of falling over the edge. Over the edge of cynicism.
Will I be able to laugh, celebrate and rejoice or will I be rolling my eyes?
*Note the church in the picture is the First Presbyterian Church of Stanhope NJ. The church that Grandma H would bring me to when I was little.