church of pancakes.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

the waffe house ain't got nothin' on this
Church.Of.Pancakes.
the church we're currently attending.
we've been in a weird place since getting married, brian and i.
caught in the middle of our past, 
where we were raised,
stuffed cozily in to mahogany church pews,
shoved against siblings and mom's over-sized purse, 
which was filled to the brim with snacks, crayons, anything to keep us quiet and under control.
below sky-high stained glass, pillars and crosses,
pancake breakfasts and church picnics,
to now.  our current life.
our conscience playing tug-of-war every Sunday morning, 
our Catholic-guilt-letting-our-parents-and-God-down-and-the-life-and-faith-they-brought-us-up-in,
pulling against our current laziness, our selfishness, our 'i just want to sleep in and eat and veg on the couch all day.' 
or i can think of TEN million other things i'd rather do than sit tensely through a mass i can't even listen to because i'm chasing a 2-year-old, running back and forth to the bathroom with a 4-year-old, looking at each other annoyingly saying, 'who's going to take this next round, so at least ONE of us gets something out of this mass?!?!'
it's painful.
and so not worth it, in our minds.
sure, it's introducing our kids to the 'idea' of church and the tradition and 'duty' to attend every Sunday,
it is our responsibility as parents, right?
to expose them to faith, whatever faith that may be?
but they don't care.  not yet.  and we get nothing out of it,
or not enough.
we want church on Sunday to be a time of reflection, to show gratitude and ask for forgiveness for all the wrongdoings from the week before.
other than another hour of the day, trying to keep our brood under control in public 
without losing our schmidt.
there has to be another way.
we've talked about going to mass separately, so we can actually listen, contemplate and ground ourselves.
but we haven't done that.
maybe we need a different church, with a Sunday school or child care?
but we haven't found one yet, that we like or where we feel we fit in.
the churches WE grew up in, had just that.
and it was more than just a place to kill time on a Sunday morning.
sure, religion in our youth, was more of a tradition for us, an obligation,
not a spiritual experience.
but it was a community.  a weekly ritual that we just performed without question and as little complaint as possible.
it's such a deep part of our being.  and really, the faith we know, the Catholic faith,
has provided us with our morals, values, beliefs.
yes, maybe a little fractured and weak and imperfect,
but who we are to the core.
the world has changed so much since those ordinary Sundays, 
and so have we.
we've had a hard time finding a place we feel 'at home.'
but despite our lack of motivation and determination to 'settle' somewhere,
we do our best to maintain those roots on a daily basis.
we pray before meals, at home or yes, we're that weird family that prays (most times,) 
while we're out at a restaurant.
we pray before bed.
we give thanks.
we look for inspiration from our devout family members who seem to have found 'the' path.
and in the meantime,
we've found more solace, more to be thankful for, 
more peace and contentment, 
huddled over pancakes and waffles at a new restaurant every Sunday 
(recently we've been doing this.)
being present in what's most important in our life,
our children, our little family,
syrupy fingers, over-flowing juice cups,
crayons and place mats and tic-tac-toe games scribbled on napkins,
whip cream on waffles and hot cups of coffee.
perfectly powdered-sugar on pancakes.
happiness and health.
oh.  and it's in the moments leading up to that.
nestled between the sheets and the comforter.
because it's Sunday and we should have ONE day to sleep in until 7am, right?
when the babes crawl in stealthily and snuggle beside and between us,
asking what we're doing today.
(knowing very well it should be church,
but most likely it will be breakfast.)
the Church.Of.Breakfast.
and lately, we've been settling in to the latter, quite easily and joyfully.
i don't know that my in-laws would approve or agree.
and i don't condone the laziness either.
if you've been reading my blog,
you know i'm all for self improvement, finding peace and contentment within yourself,
in order to give it back, like you should.
there's certainly something to say for the beautiful traditions we had in our own families growing up. 
brian's always-hot-and-served-fresh-Sunday-brunch following 8:30am mass.
for me, stuffing ourselves with donuts after mass in the church basement, 
running freely, using the empty church as our playground, then often, trips to my grandparents to spend the rest of the day playing with cousins.
every Sunday.  
it's just what we did.
we're trying to find a happy medium between the two.
without feeling the hefty weight of 'obligation,' 
but doing it because we WANT to be there, and NEED to be there,
and of course, teaching our children that 'this is what we do on Sunday.'
and right now what we do, is breakfast.
and we'll continue to teach our children,
until we've 'found' whatever it is we need,
what WE believe.
what it means to be good, to give back, to 'do the right thing.'
like santa, God is always watching.  so you can lie to mommy, but someone (God,)
is going to know.  so watch yourself.:)
(and i'm clearly all for scaring my children to have a healthy fear of God.)
so, for now,
we'll continue to warm up the mini van, guide sleepy eyes and tousled hair and half-buttoned shirts out the door,
jeans sloughed haphazardly over winter boots,
to our first destination for the day, not church,
but breakfast.  where we currently dine with peace and contentment
and the knowledge that we'll find our way to where we're supposed to be,
eventually.
that this time together, although not in a church, 
is still sacred.
time well spent.  
forming new bonds, connections and appreciation for one another
and this blessed life we have.
{on a side note.  charlie's in to dressing himself these days.  pretty hilarious and adorable.}
i'm reading George Bush's book, Decision Points
yes, go ahead and roll your eyes and make that annoying sound.
he's a good man who did the best he could.
and wrote an extremely interesting book.  
but he struggled with faith for many years and i like something he said.
". . .surrendering yourself to an Almighty is a challenge to the ego.  But I came to realize that struggles and doubts are natural parts of faith.  If you haven't doubted, you probably haven't thought very hard about what you believe.  Ultimately, faith is a walk, a journey towards greater understanding.  It is not possible to prove God's existence, but that cannot be the standard for belief.  After all, it is equally impossible to prove He doesn't exist.  In the end, whether you believe or don't believe, your position is based on faith."
so that's what we'll do.
continue on this 'walk.' 
doing the best we can, as a family.
a goofy, hodge-podge and a 'little lost' family.:)

{p.s.  if you have any 'words of wisdom' on finding faith, finding God, a church, your own struggles with the Catholic church or whatever else, PLEASE, do share!  can comment here or send to ewesterhaus@gmail.com.  we could really use some more inspiration on this topic.)



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