Strange Pull

Let yourself be silently drawn to the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.  -Rumi

On this day last year, I found myself sitting in a Catholic church in observation of All Souls’ Day, my first time in the church in years.  Only two months after losing Nelle, I could barely contain my sorrow and cried through the entire mass.  Candles with the names of those being remembered were lit.

This year, I found myself in the same place: inside a Catholic church, this time with a candle bearing the names of both Nelle and Iris.

I felt drawn to be there.  Even though I have found the Unitarian church to be a better fit for my spiritual path lately, I was drawn to the ritual: the meditative standing, sitting, kneeling, responses that I know by heart and can complete without pause.  Even as a young, Catholic adult, free to make my own choices, I always continued to attend Holy Days of Obligation or other feast days.  I recognized tonight the irony: that as a practicing, non-member Unitarian/confirmed non-practicing Catholic fellow Unitarians would applaud my choice to seek what pulls me.

I left the house with plenty of time to get to the church, but a combination of passing two bad car accidents and rain, I suddenly found myself pulling into the parking lot at 7:00 pm exactly.  However, walking into the church, I realized that mass was not starting until 7:30.  I had thirty quiet moments to myself.

I wrote my daughters’ names on the candle, and looked around.  Other people where sitting, talking in low murmurs, or praying.  No one seemed sad, or affected.  I found myself feeling isolated, again.  Why did I constantly feel like the only person crying?  After a few minutes of wiping at my eyes, I looked around again.  The woman who sat down in the pew next to me had her face buried in her hands.  A family was sitting several pews over, including two grade-school children who were crying.  An old man, who looked to be in his nineties, had his mouth drawn into a deep frown, and kept reaching into his pocket for a cloth handkerchief.  I wondered about the people that they had loved.

I walked my candle to the front of the room and set it with the others.  I kept my face muscles drawn tight, worried that if I even reached up to brush back my hair that I would start crying.  As I walked back to my seat, a toddler girl with dark hair nearly ran into me.  She was giggling in a carefree way.  Seeeing her, seeing what would have been my daughters in her, I lost it.  But it was brief, and I found that I was able to listen to the readings.

The priest was uninspiring and robotic in his homily.  I remember last year being very moved by the words of the homily; this year was nothing original or personal.  It did not feel the need I had for a spiritual connection.  The only word that caught my attention was “community”: that we were gathered as a community to remember those who have gone before us.

Driving home in the continued rain, I was listening to Les Miserables, likely a bad choice on my part.

But there are dreams that cannot be.  And there are storms we cannot weather.  I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.