An Issue of Branding

I was recently offended that a girlfriend tagged a bunch of other cat ladies in a post about cats, but not me. Let me stop you right there — I know that’s stupid. If you read my stuff, you know how I handle offense. It never lasts.

I was just slightly hurt because I love cats & I thought everyone knew it, is all.

Anyhow, my ridiculous peculiarities aside, I said something to this friend, who then said “But cat lady isn’t your brand. Your brand is church lady.”

Usually when you say “church lady” to Americans, they think of the Dana Carvey skit on SNL, but I knew this wasn’t what she meant. She meant Church Lady, that chick that is literally always at church, & when she’s not at church, she’s trying to be the bride of Christ to errbody she meets & works with because that’s what He asked us to do.

And I was immediately okay with that. I just didn’t realize that was now “my brand”.

It makes me laugh, because I think we all have this image of ourselves (heck, of our work or business) that is sometimes wildly inaccurate. It can be wrong because we are narcissistic, or because we have too little self worth. We can also have an internal life we never share with anyone, so we are alarmed to find out that the external world has already branded us.

For example, you may be a wonderful professor, husband, dad, sister, writer, singer, machinist, rodeo clown, or nurse, but nobody knows because you’re a complete douche to people you don’t know (o hai, internets).

That my brand is “church lady” is okie doke by me. Apparently what I’m pumping out into the world is not my love of cats, or even that I’ve written some books (please buy my books), but that I love Jesus. A lot.

This doesn’t suck.

It’s also unexpected; I’m kind of a disaster person. I’m surprised my brand isn’t “try hard”, as in “try hard not to suck”. And I do try to do a lot of helpful things. Sometimes I do pretty well, but a lot of the time I muddle through, having virtually no consistent point of reference for whatever thing I’m trying. So far, nobody has died, so that’s working for me on some level.

Someone once told me having a cheerful & enthusiastic personality covers a multitude of sins. I think they were trying to be nice.

Anyhow, being known as a Church Lady means that somehow, my constant internal dialogue of “Why are you such a disaster person?” is making it out into the Mainstream far less than my love of Jesus. It could be argued that Jesus actually surrounded himself with disaster people.

Peter was ridiculous, once described (by an effervescent being of light I’m privileged to know) as an overly enthusiastic grad student. Martha felt put upon & Mary literally wept on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with oil WITH HER HAIR which, let’s be honest, are both things I would do.

I was also told that being both Martha & Mary is about as close as humans can get to being good Christians. So. Cooking, cleaning, & weeping. I’VE GOT THIS.

Tell me if you need prayer. Ask me if you’re confused about something. I think my priest is this close to forbidding me to answer anyone’s theological questions, but if you want an answer that is earnest but probably a disaster, we just won’t tell him.

If this is my brand, Imma revel in it. It’s a “market” I feel comfortable in, a label I’m perfectly happy to wear. CHURCH LADY by…well, not Calvin. No no. Not that.

good Lord I’m the worst

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Everybody’s hugging!

First, I’d like to thank the five decent Philly fans out there who acknowledge that both teams played an amazing game. You’re the real MVPs. You are doing what Jesus would do, I’m pretty sure.

Now that that’s out of the way…

What a weekend. Three masses: one a funeral for someone I admired tremendously in the short few months I knew him before he was too sick to come to church, one a Latin mass with early Mozart chorale at my old haunt, St. Thomas. And, of course, Sunday mass at St. Nicholas, which was small and intimate today because #SuperBowlSunday.

Despite my team losing, it was a pretty phenomenal weekend, with tears & laughter & guacamole & cheesy dips & tremendous affection. I’ve been hugged by everyone and their mother. I was told, in a torrent of earnest & fervent love, that I should be a priest (I should not). I’ve stacked a lot of chairs. I’ve washed some wine glasses. I’ve read from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. I’ve had a very good conversation or two with people I respect tremendously & for whom I have deep affection.

I don’t even know how to thank Jesus for all the really lovely things I heard & did this weekend. I hope my constant little random smiles are received as gratitude to him.

Even the cat was slightly pleasant.

Oh, a short funny thing before I go. I let the Fitbit wake me up, which means instead of an audio alarm that might disturb the others in my home, my wrist vibrates me awake.

Today that was perceived in my dream as me being sucked from work (I was dreaming about work) into the parish hall at St. Nicholas with my friend Janice yelling at me, “Hey! Hey! Hey, Kellie!”

I awoke laughing. That’s never a bad thing.

I’ve written some books if you like any of the stuff you read here.

What in the actual

I am trying to remember my dream from last night because I know it was Significant. I fell asleep in tearful prayer (apparently the glutening is still a thing, despite my slight improvement in symptoms), and I prayed to remember anything told me. But it seems I have been shown things instead (which happens).

I can’t remember the beginning at all, but eventually it seemed to unfold that I worked at a thrift store run by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. We were all of us encouraged to shop there, too, so we did. I think my Facebook friend Eric was my coworker somehow.

I had been looking through make-up (something I would never buy used) when a girl (maybe Meghan from Reno?) brought me an empire-waisted blue top with 3/4 lace cuffed sleeves. It seemed cute to me in the dream, so I tried it on. It didn’t quite fit over my clothes. She found another that was more of an Easter green & that was a little too big, but quite comfortable. Everybody thought it looked really good although I looked pregnant.

I had no time to take it off because Bishop Diane was visiting. She set her shoes (shearling-lined wooden clogs with a bit of a heel) aside & asked me to try them on in front of everybody. They were comfortable, but I felt like something was off. I touched the top of my head, which was sticky.

I went into a bathroom & there was dried dirt caked on my face (that I assumed came from the top I was wearing) & it looked like a bird had crapped fuchsia glitter slime onto the top of my head. I could see it & feel it, but nobody else noticed it. I was pointing it out to people, but nobody could see it.

Suddenly I was in a subway station and Jimmie was hovering over the far platform in the lotus position. “Everything I have said is as it is,” he intoned with a smile, which is interesting, because in the real world, he has been trying to help me understand something.

Then the “screen” of my mind went blank, and the cat flew in with an envelop & a wax stamp.

This cat.He stamped the envelop with an elaborate, pretty black seal & handed it to me, saying in a kitty voice “Here!” Then I distinctly heard Jesus say, “This is my official seal; these were your answers. Wake up.”

And I did.

The seal was a very wispy, delicate version of this, but in a circle with some leafy looking embellishments:

To say that I am confused is an understatement. I am also really tired. Jesus wanted me to only get 6 hours of sleep (well, Him & the cat).

The Fruit

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

–Galatians 5:22-23

If the fruit of the Spirit is all these things, then my day was absolutely 100% chock full of the Spirit. I don’t think I had to experience a lot of longsuffering today, but let’s just say that’s been the hallmark of my life so far.

I felt all these things today. I had opportunities to share them with others. It is fair to guess that I spent literally all day with church folk, and an acutely indefatigable poodle.

I also encountered actual fruit. We endeavored to determine if something out of someone’s back yard was an orange. It was decidedly not, as it was most definitely a lemon inside a skin that looked quite a bit like an orange. We think maybe a tangerine tree & a lemon tree nearby enjoyed untoward congress with each other.

People think the Bible is full of things you can’t do, and that’s very true. It is also full of things you must do, & things you should feel.

Following Christ means feeling a lot of things: longing to serve, perseveration over vocation, revelation, illumination, indescribable love, deep compassion for others, bursting into tears during a hymn because it’s so beautiful, & simple pleasure at ridiculous things, like helping others, or watching a laughing child run all over the place.

If you feel the fruits of the Spirit, all in one day, you’re having a pretty good day.

I had a pretty good day. I even enjoyed the stealth lemon.

Station to Station

This’ll be a quick one. I’m not going to ruin your evening by rambling about Jesus for a thousand words or so.

BUT ALSO CHECK OUT THIS VIRTUAL, VIDEO STATIONS OF THE CROSS HERE.

I’m helping a gal at church come up with a bilingual Stations program for Lent, & I happened across that one during my research. It’s done by hip Catholics. I like Busted Halo’s quick explanations of things you generally have to take months of catechism to learn. That way, I’m not just nattering on to my unchurched or evangelical friends about liturgical wonders & quirks for twelve hours, like ya do.

Not that I don’t enjoy that, but I get the distinct impression they don’t, or that they are amused for all the wrong reasons.

The Stations are moving, brutal, intense, loving, & immense in their impact. I am so excited for Lent. You know how I dig a penitential season. You can go to church almost every day, & most people don’t think you’re crazy (for once).

And you really spend a good deal of the time clearing out anything putting distance between yourself and Christ. What’s not to love?

I wrote a little something about that, which you can get here.

In Remembrance of Me

You guys, I’m sorry, but I’m obsessed with the Eucharist again.

“Oh God,” you sigh, rolling your eyes. “I thought we were over this yearsago. Write about something else, please. Or write about sexting again. Everybody liked that.”

No. We will revisit the Body and Blood of Christ, especially since I have…additional insights.

Also today is the feast day of Frances de Sales, the patron saint of writers, & I’m writing. About Jesus. So there. Logos to your Holy Mother. *crosses arms like an ’80s rapper*

The 15 or so priests who read this blog with tremendous amusement and forehead slapping are anxiously awaiting my additional insights, so I will tell you that they come of being super into bringing all the Eucharist kit up for healing masses or setting it up after any masses at St. Nicholas, and by Eucharist kit I of course mean the chalice assembly, but I always have to come up with a cutesy name for all the things.

Not actually called a Eucharist kit.

Y’all are lucky I don’t call it Jesus Gear.

Anyhow, this fills me with great delight. As literally insane as this might sound to normies, I get a huge kick out of carrying Christ materials about. It used to terrify me, as I was convinced I would trip, but now I’ve learned to balance bottles of holy water & wine with a chalice assembly & a number of other accoutrements, all in one trip. It’s like I bundle all the Jesus in my arms & share him with errbody. It’s fun.

I also think other stuff is fun. Don’t worry too much.

Tonight I was going over the clean up process in my head, over and over, & the reassembly of the Eucharist kit. It’s like wrapping presents. It fills me with unspeakable joy.

Is this even remotely sane? I don’t even know whom one goes to in order to complain about such a thing. “Doctor, Doctor. You’ve got to help me. I keep thinking about the Eucharist.”

It’s not just The Stuff. I love the liturgy around it. I’ve memorized like two versions of it. I get annoyed if the rhythm of it is disturbed. That’s something I have to work on.

I of course enjoy receiving it, as I’ve written many times before. We have a funny little process down at St. Nicholas, where I have my own little bowl of gluten free, though if we want to be super Catholic, I’m apparently supposed to have a little thing of wine that gets poured before the bread goes in. I’m down for that, too. I will miss the very different textured gluten free host, but I want to do whatever is Correct. And also not destroy my small intestine.

It is not lost on me how unfair it is that I can’t do Communion like a normal person, but I also stopped worrying about things being unfair when I was 13 years old. Life is unfair & stupid. Our job is to be graceful anyway.

Is there any way I can just live in a church all the time and just do church things? Is that being a nun? Should I be a nun?

OMG SHOULD I BE A NUN?!

Since I am not at this time a nun, please buy my very not-a-nun books.

Purity

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, & from whom no secrets are hid, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, & worthily magnify thy holy name, though Christ our Lord. Amen.

Isn’t it amazing what you take on board & find playing on repeat in your mind at 11:27 PM on a Tuesday night?

Whenever we say this prayer at the start of mass, two things happen. First, it doesn’t matter what priest is leading it. I will always hear Father Davies’ Welshy Londony voice in my head.

Second, I tend to place a lot of emphasis, when I recite it, on the “all desires known.”

This is because I literally have no idea what I want half the time. I figure God knows what I will not admit to myself. I have ideas about what I want, & then I move toward those things, & then God laughs & says, “Oh, child, that is funny. My dear creature. Hilarious.”

He’s not wrong. I’ve talked about babies & dusty crackers in one of my books. God does not want me to put that wretched thing in my mouth, & I let him lead. Now I am trying to let him lead completely, without even trying to do anything.

This is producing results that have me saying things to him like “This makes legit zero sense.”

And God responds enthusiastically, “Oh, you think that was crazy? Hold my beer!”

If God knows all my desires, and this is where I’m going, I am a much stranger person than I thought. Like, seriously, flawlessly bizarre. I wouldn’t even know how to describe some things that have happened without sounding like I was trying to story board a fourth season of Twin Peaks.

It’s all real, but it’s not normal.

It’s certainly not bad. It is a series of gentle, free (or nearly free) and sometimes ludicrously joyous happenings that are seemingly unrelated. A teenager tells me after five minutes of conversation that I am now her best friend. A small child describes sharks and yogurt to me in grave, exacting detail. A friend sings “Don’t Fear the Reaper” to me the same way Carol Burnett might. On a warm afternoon, I am somehow the center of a very attentive universe, when my plan that day was to serve. I get sick again, & the cat kneads me for the first time since I rescued him. I have a job I love, friends who care, and a DJ who just mashed up David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” with Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie.”

I don’t even know who I am any more.

Is this what #blessed looks like? It’s weird, you guys. Smiling randomly to yourself all day is weird.

All desires known.” Well, what else do I want, Lord? Where TF does this crazy train go?

If you have that opening riff in your head right now, I have won.