The Bell is Rung

I sat tonight with my sponsor – the one with God in her eyes. She has a boyfriend, an Irish guy named Colin. Her relationship with him is something new. It is healthy, without co-dependency. She tells me that she doesn’t wait around in anguish until he calls, like she did with her ex-fiance and other boyfriends. She has now found perfect love in God. He fills all the empty spaces where alcohol used to flow. He is with her when she makes her amends to others for wrongdoings. He follows her in quiet moments that might have otherwise felt lonely; now they are exquisite opportunities for reflective solitude. She has faith in the Now, and in the existence of an afterlife with a loving father.

I am so goddamned jealous I could rip her apart.

Since she told me about feeling safe and calm even when Colin takes a little too long to call her back, or that he can’t come over that night, I have upped my quest for my own loving force. It’s comical. A few days ago I was praying to the goddess of the harvest; yesterday I sat in a Catholic church in between masses, listening to a chakra-cleanse on You-tube, covering my earbuds on the sneak, while the janitor flicked on the overheads and blithely mopped the floor.

Today I found something that might hit the spot. I went to a service at a Unitarian Universalist Congregation. It was  especially festive because it was right before Thanksgiving, so there was a jazz band and an accordion and a whole section dedicated to bread. Parishoners came one by one to the pulpit to introduce the bread they had brought for an after-service feast. Each loaf was supposed to represent a different culture or country. There was challah, italian bread, tandoor, adjduv kruh, chinese crackers and about five million more (the introduction of the breads was a wee bit tedious; that’s my only complaint).

There was no mention of God or Jesus or the bible. Here was a typical “prayer”:

Love is the doctrine of this congregation,

the quest of truth is its sacrament,

and service is its prayer.

To dwell together in peace,

to seek knowledge in freedom,

to serve human need

this do we affirm and covenant with each other.

The sermons were about gratitude and love and life. And they did not make me want to run home for a nap. In fact, one reverend told the story about how, as a little girl, she was forced to clean her Thanksgiving plate because the “poor children in Africa were starving.” She thought to herself, “hmm, how will MY eating this food make THEM less hungry? I’d better mail some to them.” The reverend then whipped out a large envelope and continued the story, “I put all the spinach in the envelope, because I hated it. Then I felt guilty and added a little cranberry sauce because I couldn’t send them ALL the yucky stuff, could I? Finally, I stuffed a few slices of turkey into the envelope and at the last minute decided that everything tastes better with gravy, so I had better cram in a generous dose of it. As I held up my envelope to seal and stamp, it exploded all over me, and I thought, ‘well, how in the heck am I supposed to mail THIS????” The reverend even risked the besmirching of her outrageously colored robes and held the dripping envelope for all to see. The crowd hooted.

The songs were traditional tunes replaced by themes of love and general good-will and spirit, rather than biblical figures and their promises. My little girl happily sang along.

The service ended with this:

All are welcome eat our table without regard to class or creed, belief or unbelief, for the community we share is greater than these

The bell is rung.

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