Today I brought Ambrose to my mom's to spend the night. I pointed out familiar and new things to Ambrose on the bus ride over. My brother got up, and we had lunch and chatted and stretched to remember details of a mutual acquaintance from high school. It's a beautiful, sunny, melty sort of day here; I wore no hat and no gloves, and left for the 1:45 PM bus with a spring in my step after fond goodbyes to all and kisses from my little boy. The walk from my mom's house to the bus stop seems to take forever; I have taken that walk thousands of times, but not regularly for years. It was all so familiar. I pondered over the content of my current book and idly watched my fellow bus-waiters. The young lady next to me could have been me ten years ago. In fact I found myself taking in her appearance and self-consiously flipping my septum back out (I wear it in around my mom and other people whom I know it makes uncomfortable) because she looked, you know, like she'd appreciate my coolness. I then felt terribly silly and just smiled to myself, wondering what I would have thought of my present adult self ten years ago. Impossible to imagine. I remember waiting for the bus with my high school boyfriend. I remember going to the bus to go to shows. Or church. Or Tams. I was fully immersed in memories. The bus arrived and I felt that funny disoriented feeling of being diquieted by one's memories of one's former values and choices. I wanted to separate from that self, to pack it quietly but swiftly away, keep it out of sight, with its potential to embarrass (what was I thinking?) and scare (that was me, always me, I am capable of that even now, there but for the grace of God go I, my life is all on a tightrope, it could all slip away) me; I wanted to calmly smile in my professional crisp grownup confident way, secure in the knowledge that I am so past the sins of irreverence, lack of philosophical and ethical integrity, and willful disobedience that I never need to let the shadow of those memories touch me... but I am, always and unalterably, myself, whether 15 or 25, as wise as I was at 17 or as marginally wiser as I am now; I am always myself, a sinner, never safe from sin, never above sinning. We are pilgrims on this earth and it is only by the grace of God that I have grown in virtue since I was 15 at all.
So, on the bus, I took out my woven, one-decade Rosary. A sacramental, a tangible reminder that Catholicism is something I choose, something I do; that I need not be afraid of that shadow, not because the tightrope isn't real, but because
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most HighMy fear is misplaced, I know it. I should not fear the shadow, for all my sins have been cast behind His back. I should rather fear my complacency, my absence of awareness of the tightrope's reality on a regular basis.
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” ...
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
And so I started. Saturday, the glorious mysteries. It was calming to hold, a little sacrament of the faith I was feebly, though gratefully, exercising. I chose to pick it up, to close my eyes and release myself into it in my time of need - and it was good.