You Know, Just Talking to God

As of late, I have been talking to God. I have been complaining to God. I have been wondering if religion is much like golf.

One summer afternoon when I was a teenager I John McEnroe’d my putter into the green and screamed “This isn’t fun!” My dad replied, “Mary Katherine, golf isn’t supposed to be fun.” It might seem that a “game” you “play” is supposed to be amusing, but at this point in my life, I can see the fatherly wisdom. And I wonder if religion, like golf, is not only not supposed to be fun, but, essentially, a game you play against yourself.

One morning recently, God told me to show myself. Not just talk about it, or read about it, or write about it, but to actually show up in the cathedral. I took God’s dare and skulked into an early-morning weekday Mass. I do this from time to time, anyway, since the daily Mass, like The New York Times, is far, far superior to the Sunday edition. (The best Mass of all? Saturday morning. Non-vigil. It is a Mass for true believers, nuns, and tortured souls.)  An odd thing happened, or not so odd, depending on your point of view. When the service was over, the priest did not exit. The monstrance was brought out, and the altar girl assisted the priest in placing the oversized show-host inside of it, with much mumbling and bowing. They exited in silence, leaving everyone in the chapel to quietly dwell on the beautiful gold sun of the monstrance, surrounded by candles, that looked out at us. It’s a First Friday in Lent, I remembered, then looked intently at the thing itself: a wafer in a lovely golden aurora, a circle, complete. This is the Exposition of  the Blessed Sacrament, a period of time when the faithful take shifts praying, meditating, or simply being in the presence of the consecrated host. I looked at God, or maybe just the idea of God, but the idea of “belief” doesn’t really matter to me anymore. Metaphor is perfectly acceptable, even satisfying and sometimes, my heart even accepts the numinous, which is what happened the day that I thought God told me to show myself. I looked at God, and God looked back. And/or I saw a wafer in a gaudy gold frame and it, being an object, did nothing.

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.