Life, lately, has been oh so busy. At the end of a long work day, I find myself exhausted, with barely enough energy to get myself home, say hello to my husband and dogs and hop into bed. By the weekend, I hermit myself away, utilizing my two days as productively as I can, which for an introvert means quietness, alone time, time to be creative, to dissect through a week’s worth of interactions and thoughts that didn’t get properly sorted and stored. Time to recharge.
I miss sitting in my office. This room sits at the very edge of our home and was possibly built as an extension years after this house was first built. The sunlight glistens through the lace curtains, and when the heat is turned on, I melt in warm bliss. My thoughts can melt out of me, and my clothes begin to peel off, layers which I often find restricting. Layers which disallow me to jump as high as I want or move my body effortlessly as if it were in a pool of water. This space has become a sanctuary for me and my thoughts.
Sunday, the day of rest, the day of detox. The day some gather in buildings to pray and meditate and others hide under covers, recovering from last night.
So many Sundays were spent at church when I was a kid. From 8 am, when my mom would begin worship practice, to 1 or 2 pm, when my dedicated father would finally be done greeting every last request of people seeking guidance from their pastor. I would find myself getting lost in pews, usually in the balcony, hiding away wherever I could. I’d listen to the music or try to make my dad laugh while he was speaking on stage. One day I snuck into the crawl space that runs underneath of the stage and up past the pews. Eventually, I learned that a homeless person had been living there. I’m not sure where he moved to next.
I remember a lot of people knowing my name but rarely knowing (or often forgetting) their names. They knew my parents, and so they somehow knew me, thus feeling they shared something with me. As soon as the Sunday service was over, I’d run into my mom’s tiny office and lock the door. It was a little section behind the stage that had a washroom, my mom’s office, a music room and a props room. There was also a door I could go through that would lead to the baptismal tank–but you never wanted to go through that door when you were sneaking out of the service, trying to find something to do. If you did, you’d find yourself staring at the faces of hundreds who would be wondering why the pastor’s daughter was standing alone in an empty baptismal tank. Usually, I’d stay in my mom’s office, and sometimes I’d sneak into the props room and get lost amongst the colors, flags, fabrics and costumes. It is here I felt free. Free to just be me. To let my imagination create something out of nothing. And I think it is often here where I felt closest to God. Just Him and I doing our own thing together, where no one had to be of witness. Where we could be ourselves and be honest with one another and make jokes together and sometimes cry together but mostly, understand one another.
Nowadays, in a different country from where I went to church as a kid, I don't always know if I fit in while standing in the pews. Maybe we all feel this way? I feel stuck, watched and slightly terrified of someone knowing my name. I hear the pastor speak and I watch his young children and wonder if they are listening to the words or waiting for their dad to finish work. I see them dance to the music and I see my sister and me at three and six years old dancing. I remember lifting my hands into the air. I remember playing guitar on stage. I remember playing Solitaire on my dad’s computer. I remember eating the leftover communion bread and drinking the tiny cups of grape juice after the service was over. I remember making borscht soup in the kitchen for church potlucks. I remember the fireplace in my dad’s office. I remember dunking my head into a tub of oatmeal, trying to retrieve some object, during a youth event, where later I’d get a prize. I remember drawing or writing poems on the tithing envelopes that didn't get used. I remember holding my mom’s soft hand while listening to dad talk, her presence making me slightly more comfortable about sitting in the front row. I remember she’d get up at the end of the service to play the piano, and I would try my hardest to make her laugh, anything to break the ordinary. And it would work. I’d make a face or a silly smile, and once we’d make eye contact, she’d lift her head away from the microphone and look up into the sky laughing. And it is here I’d feel God again. Here, looking up into the sky together, laughing. Sometimes I’d get my dad so tongue tied with his words that he’d finally have to stop during the middle of the service and say, I’m sorry, my daughter is making funny faces at me, and I can’t stop laughing. People in the audience would laugh and I would be mortified that I had been made known, but mostly, I'd be proud that I had created laughter amongst still bodies. Again, anything to break the ordinary. Anything that said, hey, it's okay to be weird here.
I’ve never understood people who don’t think God has a sense of humor. That’s the only God I’ve ever known. Someone filled with abundant love but who also doesn’t take life too seriously when the hymns are sung out of tune and the people show up wearing flip-flops and shorts. Oh, and of course, someone who really likes to laugh. I suppose that is the man I married. I suppose that man is also my father.
But it is here in my tiny office, with white walls and terrible peach trimming around the windows, that I find my solitude again. My Sunday. My day of rest. My day where I can detangle thoughts and empty myself enough to make space for God.
I suppose it’s just like those Sunday’s when I’d lock myself in my mom’s office. Hidden and safe. Alone and free to be me. Without judgment. Left to my imagination and with stacks and stacks of books. A place quiet enough to hear what the air is saying and feel how the dust particles are dancing amongst the sun.