“How about 20 minutes?” I asked after he told me we had to leave in 15. He quickly replied, “Sure, 20 minutes” without pause. This was the easiest negotiation I’d ever been in. I had successfully bought myself extra time to drink more coffee to get wired. I could down a lot of coffee with 5 extra minutes. It was Sunday morning before church, and I needed to get caffeinated up to stay awake for the sermon. I had almost proven, on a few occasions, that I could do this. However, most times I would hang my head pretending to pray and get in some needed rest, eventually ending with snoring. He would nudge me out of my sleep before the priest finished, and the others noticed. Then it was time to stand. And with a big “Amen” I sprung up and was back in the game. No one the wiser.
We were lapsed Catholics who finally found our way back to the church. It wasn’t one thing that brought us back, it was a lot of little things. We found a priest we liked, we talked a lot about religion and virtues, and unlike many people, had fond memories of growing up in the Catholic faith. We weren’t heathens per se, just void of a spiritual life for a while – basically taking an extended vacation from God. We finally concluded that something was missing. So, with a little commitment and repentance we became part of a parish. Living together and being divorced were two strikes against us, but we didn’t care. Rules are in the eyes of the beholder. In our mind, God is good and will accept us as we are. Scripture can’t stop us.
Today I stayed awake for the Gospel, occasionally lowering my head down but not falling asleep. He was proud of me. It was both the extra coffee and my deep faith that kept me listening. I looked over at his face as he stood next to me in his church clothes. Remember those uncomfortable church clothes? I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. I don’t believe that God cares about what you wear. The priest was in his finest robes but I would have listened to him if he was wearing a track suit (now I’m dating myself). It’s not the clothes that make the man, even in church.
I had a cup of coffee when we got home, as he changed out of his Sunday best. By now I was chipper and ready for the day. I sat at my computer and started writing as I often do, while I thought about my faith. I know it is true and good. I believe we should all take care of each other, do unto others, and all that. A faithful life is very simple and basic; not scary and overwhelming. Show up, be compassionate, help others, be humble, always be generous, and above all (for me) drink coffee before church.