Allergies and Emotion

They have returned. My allergies, that is. It’s a good sign since it means that Spring is here. And before any of you back in Montreal post any comments–I don’t care if you all got sick after I did, I still say that those were allergies and not a cold!

For the past two weeks or so, I’ve had these really low-level and annoying symptoms. Scratchy throat. Itchy nose. To top it all off, my wisdom teeth have been acting up again. Correction. One wisdom tooth. The lower left one. So I’ve not been sleeping great either.

The wisdom tooth seems to be calming down though, at least. It’s kind of odd, actually. They’ve been trying to come in for seven or eight years now. The dentist always tells me that I have plenty of room and that they’re not impacted. They’re just taking their sweet ass time. The two top ones are in. It’s the two bottom ones now. The really odd part about it, though, is that they always act up in the Spring. Except that for the past five years–when I was living in Montreal–they started acting up around May or so. They’re a month early. Which leads me to assume that my body is in tune with the actual temperature and weather in some weird way and that it’s not just connected to a 12-month cycle of my wisdom teeth giving it a go and then resting.

As for emotion. It’s something that I’m lacking. Not as regards the break-up but as regards church. It’s been about two months now that I’ve been going every Sunday. Well, I missed one week because I had to work Sunday morning. I don’t dislike it. I decided that I would go at least through Easter, which is this coming Sunday. I think I’ll keep going. I was thinking about it Sunday night at work and I realised that although I’ve very easily opened up to this intellectually, to listening attentively to the readings, to the sermons, thinking about what the prayers and call-and-responses actually mean and not just letting them be rote recitations, I’ve not yet, it seems, been able to open up to it emotionally.

When I was growing up, I always got excited about going to church. We never went on any regular basis though I wanted to. I was an altar boy by my own decision (not that I was discouraged) but my parents would always drive me to church when I had to serve a mass and then go home. They never actually went to the mass itself. During the summer–especially if I had an 8.15 mass to serve–it wasn’t out of the question for them to have me walk to church. It was only a 10-15 minute walk after all. And it was something I was happy to do, feeling kind of cool and kind of completely idiotic walking down the street carrying my altar boy robes. I think once I actually walked to church wearing them.

Before I became utterly disenchanted with the Catholic church, though, going to mass stirred so much in me. The music. The candles. The singing. The prayers. I connected with it on a fairly deep level. Part of me wonders if maybe it was because I was so young and that there was just so much mystery to all of it. I suspect that we’re much more open to mystery and wonder when we’re young. By the time we become adults, we’ve become too disenchanted with the lies of the world to readily open up to mystery again.

What made me really realise that I hadn’t yet really connected or opened up to the emotional aspect of going to church was during the procession of the palms this past Sunday, Palm Sunday. At the opening of the service, the entire congregation is supposed to process around the church, singing hymns, holding and/or waving palm fronds, as a re-enactment of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Of course, not the entire congregation did process. Most people just stayed in their pews, but there was a fair number of people. I was sitting alone, as usual, towards the end of a pew in the second to last row. As the procession passed me, one of the assistant ministers reached out to me and motioned for me to join the procession. I would have felt like an ass had I not joined.

So I did. And I kept singing. And holding my palm frond. And processing.

But it was all just motions.

There’s one part of the service, though, that stirs something. And it always has. From the time I was a kid, through the few times that I went to mass after I’d been confirmed, and every time that I’ve gone to church these past few months. At the very beginning of the celebration of the eucharist, the minister says, ‘The Lord be with you,’ to which the congregation responds, ‘And also with you.’ ‘Lift up your hearts.’ ‘We lift them up to the Lord.’ ‘Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.’ ‘It is right to give him thanks and praise.’

There’s something in those brief lines that stirs something in my heart. So, I have some kernel of emotion to work with, perhaps. Part of me wonders if I’ve just been so emotionally pre-occupied that I have little to spare for this new venture. But I suspect that much more likely is that I really will need to work at opening myself up again to this kind of experience, something that I had closed myself to for so long.

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