I'm a Dickinson, but I am not only a Dickinson. I am a Catholic, but I am not only a Catholic. So now I am going to contradict myself. I recently "returned" to the Catholic church because I wanted to baptize the babies. I believe, now that I have a family, that this family needs religious structure. I may have my private Emily Dickinson side, but there must be a vehicle to teach morals and conscience; kids won't understand an abstract spirituality. They need stories. So as I have been tooting on about private spirituality in this blog, I have secretly gone back to mass, for their sake. I have debated whether the Catholic Church is the right choice and have reasoned this: as you get older and the world gets colder and stranger, familiarity becomes paramount. Sure the Catholic church is frustrating in its patriarchal baloney; its hypocrisy regarding the sex scandals. But we are all fallible here, on this planet, including the almighty church. So I go to mass when I'm not doing my Emily Dickinson routine and I sit and stand and kneel and weep. I don't know where the weeping is coming from; I suppose it has to do with the dead, or my palpable loneliness, or my desperation for something greater than myself. The weeping is a warm gush of spirit that wants to burst out the top of my head like a holy geyser. I want to contain it. I don't want people to see me as I walk up to communion while they sing "One Bread, One Body". I bite the inside of my cheek to stop it. I look around and wonder if others have the holy geyser ready to burst through their heads; it doesn't seem so. But then again, what do I know? I'm not in their heads. By the time I get to the priest and the host is raised up to my third eye, I have contained it and I am calm. I go back to my seat and kneel and bow my head, try to look like everyone else.
Piers Morgan had Martin Sheen on his show to discuss the new pope and other Catholic issues. Sheen had talked about how he had fallen away from the church in his twenties, but returned many years later after a trip to India. He said he was awestruck at the poverty there. He said he returned to the church because it was a commendable vehicle in caring for the poor. That struck me, his saying that. Because in this private spirituality of mine, there is no service. I could put it in place, but it is infinitely more difficult than jumping on an already established bandwagon. So I hope I come to know service and act, when the time is right, and I hope the church will help me do that. And maybe this geyser of mine will be less likely to take my head off.