So the holidays and my vacation are over. Though it was thankfully a short first week back, I’m now facing months of the usual grind ahead of me: 40 hours at one job and about 12 at the other, plus all that “work” that I have myself and not a boss to answer to: keeping the house passably clean, acquiring groceries and turning them into meals, writing to keep myself reasonably spiritually centered, paying bills, and oh yeah, looking ahead to finding a new place to live.
Last week our landlords visited the U.S. and visited with us to let us know that their planned 3-year stay in China is going to be cut short. So, come June, they’ll be moving back to the house we’re renting from them and my husband and I will need to be somewhere else.
When I bought my first home, my uncle shared some sage words as he was helping me shlep my stuff into the new place. His comment as he carried the last box from his pick-up over my threshold: “This is why you buy a house – so you don’t have to move.” It’s been eight years since then, and I have moved twice. So, according to the statistics the “experts” like to quote about why home-ownership may be an antiquated notion, I’m right in the mean. My husband and I have both changed jobs in that time, which of course went hand-in-hand with having to find a roof to put over our heads reasonably close to where we try to earn our bread.
Have I mentioned I hate moving? I hate change in general, but change to my home is excruciating. I feel like I just got used the various creaks and groans of the plumbing and heating in our latest rented space, so I don’t jolt awake in the middle of the night when the furnace kicks on. I know we have way too much stuff, but I can’t think of a thing that we could put into boxes and not have to pull out in the next week or two. We have a lot of stuff, but we use it.
And then there’s that nagging question of what to do with the home we still own. Given the nightmares we’ve had with trying to “hold on to it,” all logic says to cut our losses and run. But then there’s the illogical side of me that thinks it wouldn’t be so bad if we had to commute over an hour each way (in good weather). There’s the running soundtrack of It’s a Wonderful Life that goes through my head, as I hear Jimmy Stewart extol the benefits of home-owners,
“Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers? You…you said…What’d you say just a minute ago?…Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about…they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?”
Meanwhile, our congregation will soon be moving back into the historic building that has undergone much needed renovations. It would be a good chance for us to try attending again – a fresh start on many levels. But, the problem with trying to make a fresh start in an old place are that there are so many reminders of what you’re trying to leave in the past.
And I know that I haven’t done enough work to get past the feelings that I just no longer belong at the church I called home. I still feel don’t belong because I can’t get comfortable with the spirit talk and meditative direction of services that is just as uncomfortable for me as an angry patriarchial god whose dogma states I am not a good person. And, even if I could get past that larger hurdle, there’s still the problem that we can’t afford to give the kind of money we’ve been asked to. Especially now that we have to start saving again for moving expenses and have no way of knowing what our next rent will be, or if we’ll be filling the gas in our car every day just to get to our jobs.
I guess the larger problem is that I don’t feel I can bring these concerns, or any of the others about how I feel about the world, into my congregation. I feel I can only go and pretend that I have no worries. I must pretend that being in a pretty room with pretty organ music is all I need to feel centered again. Do that for an hour a week, pay my fee, and maybe I can have access to the parts of the congregation that still are positive for me: my friends in the congregation and the (very) occassional social justice project that involves more than writing a check.
And, I can’t do it. I can’t stifle the longing for more. I can’t stop thinking about the first time I talked about my religion with my husband (then just my friend). I told him there was never a moment in my life when I didn’t feel like a UU. I stopped attending services when I realized that I didn’t feel like a UU for the hour + I was in that building on Sunday mornings. Now, I’m starting to feel like a spiritual fraud with no faith to claim whenever I’m asked about my faith.
I realize I can’t even write in this blog all the reasons why I’m not attending church services. I may have to write off-line to get it out of my system.