I have a whole bunch of friends who have birthdays at the end of September. Basically, all the best people are Libras or Libra-adjacent. My knitting friend and I like to go on field trips together for our birthday week. Last year, it was Webs (which was AWESOME). This year, we were like: get. ramen.
So we got up on Saturday, got in the car and drove back to Kittery, Maine to eat at Anju. Yes, that’s how good it is. Yes, it’s worth the drive. Yes, you should absolutely visit there. Yes, you should eat everything on the menu. I cannot say enough good things. This food is the best food. If you choose to take my advice and make this journey, get there right when they open, grab a stool by their big-huge windows, and let the world stroll by their little corner while you enjoy the goodness. The goodness.
I want to stay on this thought for a second just to say: I really love Maine. I think Maine gets a bad rap. Or maybe Maine is just misunderstood. Or maybe there is a “New” Maine happening? I’ve never had a bad trip to Maine. I think the people there are absolutely lovely. I think the culinary scene is worth every ounce of the hype. The scenery is inspiring and gorgeous. My heart will always belong to Maryland, but I am having a full blown affair with Maine.
Birthday revelry continued when I got back home. We went over to friends for dinner and drinks while the boys played on a bouncy castle and dabbled with Minecraft. I entertain a lot, but don’t always go over to other people’s places. Not for the whole “couple’s drinks” thing, anyway. Mostly because it’s hard for The Husband, who will just sit and not say anything, and I am quickly exhausted of trying to keep conversations going. This couple, however, we’ve known for a while and the husbands are friends. So things flowed easily, the wine was awesome, the food was delicious… it was one of the few social occasions that felt easy and pleasant. Which is why I drank a little too much and getting up yesterday was hard.
But it was mostly hard because I did something ridiculous: I served as a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM) yesterday during service. In other words, I wore a heavy white robe with a rope tied around my waist and pretended to sing with the choir and served the wine (or, if you will, the Blood of Christ) to the congregation during communion. And it was… well, it was a blur.
College “me” is laughing at me for sure. 20’s “me” is looking at me with a quizzical and judgmental look. Even 30 me is like, “girl, how?” Because, Lordy, I don’t even know how I got to yesterday.
Here is what I think I know: church is a rabbit-hole. There is a lot that could be done and it’s easy to say yes and the follow-through, while nerve-wracking, comes with a lot of satisfaction when everything is done. Who doesn’t like to start things and finish them? Who doesn’t like the instant gratification of rendering a service and seeing the impact of that service in real time? I think that’s the allure and snare of it.
I also think I come, again to again, to moments when I come up against the question, “but do you really believe?” And then I surprise myself when the answer is a real and firm “yes.” I served the Blood of Christ yesterday to people I know, people I don’t know, dear friends and their children… and the idea of it brought me to tears in the middle of it. I had to really concentrate to keep it together. I guess, if I could face the younger versions of myself, I’d open my arms and shrug and say, “somewhere between where you are and where I am, I started to actually believe.”
It’s strange and wonderful and explainable. I admit that I feel a little sheepish. I roll with the intellectual and the thoughtful, I consider myself to be part of an intellectual crowd… It’s almost as if I should “know better” than to like church so much and be such an active member. How dare I, even? It’s a social construct, right? This church thing is a political infrastructure, another element of the body politic. It was created to control a massive amount of people in a chaotic world. Now it’s bloated and flawed and even, it could be argued, nefarious…
But the God part… outside and above the institution of it…
Well, anyway… I believe despite myself. I believe despite what I know. There is something there that I can’t explain and I believe in a way I didn’t know I could.
I’m feeling really good so far this birthday week. It’s only Monday, of course, but I’m feeling optimistic about it all. There are things due and meetings to go to… and if I don’t get this quilt top done by Wednesday morning, I’m screwed. I promise to post a picture. It’s coming along so beautifully! But the batting and backing must be bought on Wednesday. Lord, oh, Lord. Ya’ll know it’s only 92 days until Christmas, right? Yes, crafters, freak out.
We’re gonna get it all done.
Okay, it’s Monday… and this week is already shaping up to be something. If you are chasing the news, pace yourself. You don’t have to watch every second of commentary between now and Thursday’s committee inquisition. It’ll all be there… so just… breathe. Ok? Breathe. Don’t hold your breath. Don’t scream until you’re blue in the face, either. Just… breathe and wait.
I’m here with you.
Until Wednesday, keep breathing, drink some water, step away from the cable news, and take care.