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.

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Behold! The Rock.

I’m trying to learn to just let things exist in space.

If you are a creator or an over thinker (I am both, more the first than the second), you know how hard that is. If I see a blank page, it must be filled. I never suffer from writer’s block (though I do suffer from written schlock, which is what happens when you don’t have the sense to not write).

A lump of clay must be formed into something…maybe a bunch of somethings. A set up instrument must be played. Butter must be turned into cookies. Pork must become tacos. All materials must be transformed.

It doesn’t help to be a fussy Christian, though. You’re supposed to be the material that is transformed, but I admit I sometimes try to help God’s process along, like He needs my help somehow. “You may have noticed,” he says, all but his eyes obscured by a huge “World’s Greatest Dad” mug, “that I became flesh and died for you. I’m not really sure why you think you have to embellish that somehow.” He sips his tea, then sets it down. “I mean, it’s adorable that you’re trying to help. But maybe today you can stop trying to be better faster harder stronger & just let love transform you. Try it. It’s a whole thing. You might dig it.”

Today’s homily was about knowing Christ & letting Christ know you, as he knew to call Simon by a new name — Peter — aka The Rock, which forever changes my mind’s picture of the Father of the Church to Dwayne Johnson in a robe and sandals calling unbelievers candy asses. I don’t think that’s what Father intended, but that’s where I am now. The Rock — the Catholic Church. Inextricably bound up in my head.

And John knew that Jesus was the lamb, which was kind of not the thing you said to people back then.

We spend a lot of time not naming things. We say “difficult childhood” when we mean “protracted abuse.” We say “allergies” when we mean “I have had the flu for a week but do not send me home from work.” We have come up with a lot of complicated terms for what amounts to “terribly unhappy people”. Kids say they’re “talking” when what they mean is either falling in love or sending nudes (the opposite of falling in love).

I say “I’m working on myself” which is a sly way of saying “I, for some reason, do not trust the creator of the universe to move me.” I say “I am carefully considering my words” when what I really mean is “I am terrified you are going to think I’m stupid or horrible because I am unused to facing my raw emotions.”

What I am trying to learn is to just be. This is hard for women in particular because we are wired to communicate. It is even more hard for people of high verbal intelligence because we know there is AN EXACT WORD to describe what we mean, but it’s probably German.

But just being in the whatever is pretty much what God intended, I think. When you live there, inside the heart, whatever needs to exist just does. It’s the false reality created by our never ending streams of words that diverts the reality away from us. Words are protection.

Says the novelist. I literally make shit up & expect you to feel like it is real. I know how this works. I spent two days once looking up an obscure North English dialect so that another story I’m working on seems more authentic…to the maybe five people alive who care about such things. But again…that’s me not leaving well enough alone.

But we all make up our own narratives as we go along. A friend of mine who is not neurotypical helps point that out to me almost daily. Everybody has a version of themselves they present. Some are constant heroes of their own stories, some constant victims. Spectrum folks just say what happened, without the “polite” cushion of “difficult childhood”. It’s bracing. It’s a list of facts, happy and awful.

I am not “normal”, but I do have the gift/curse of crafting a narrative; I’m a storyteller after all. I also think narratives help us truly see things sometimes that we cannot look at directly — like the hole you cut into a box to view the eclipse.

I also think a gazillion things at once, so I can’t remember everything in order all the time. My roommate got annoyed with me (nicely) yesterday for telling a story completely backwards. But to me, that was when reality started. But she wasn’t wrong; going back and telling the story from the beginning helped me understand some things about what happened.

But again…this isn’t Being. This is Thinking. Thinking is such a gift when we want to cure cancer or put people on Mars. It should not hamstring the presence of love. It should not be allowed to shout out joy.

The “What would Jesus prefer I do?” post I did the other day is the one I keep coming back to in my head. Sometimes that really does amount to “Which choice, at this point, does the least harm?”, but the idea in future is to not even get there. From Wednesday on, I’ve been trying to naturally choose the thing that does the least harm, or even better, does the most good, to the best of my ability.

The thing that does the most good is always the thing that shows love.

“It’s not that simple.”

Shhh. Yes, it is.

Sometimes you can show me love by buying stuff I wrote.

New book! 

Here it is!

For reasons I cannot imagine except I’ve been busy, I forgot to tell y’all I have new book out! Now this one has decidedly less sex & death in it than The Method, but it also has other goals. Like trying to help you feel like you have some say in what happens to you.

So if you’re feeling rubbish or frightened by things that you feel shouldn’t frighten you, Christ, Not Crisis is your jam, in paperback & Kindle.

You don’t have to believe in Jesus for it to speak to you. I just happen to do so, which has been life changing for me. For example, I can confidently say I love you even though I’ve never met you. I want you to feel joy, or at least safety.

Fall

  My friend JC (not a bumbling reference to our Lord & Saviour, for once) just posted this on his Facebook wall. It resonates:

Oh, right, I keep forgetting, for lots and lots of people in the world, the notion of ‘falling in love’ has (of all things) sexual connotations. No, that’s not what I think is happening. For me, what falling in love means is different. It’s a matter of suddenly, globally, ‘knowing’ that another person represents your only access to some vitally transmissible truth or radiantly heightened mode of perception, and that if you lose the thread of this intimacy, both your soul and your whole world might subsist forever in some desert-like state of ontological impoverishment. – From “A Dialogue on Love,” Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick

If this is true, I do it at least twice a year, maybe more. Is it possible to fall in love with your friends, mentors, & inspirations? A whole church? Of course it’s not the mature partner love you grow over time, but it is the heady rush of knowing that this person, this him or her that you can’t stop talking about, is your new brain crush, & there is no distinction, I believe, neurochemically, between being excited by intellectual/spiritual connection & romantic idealization.

This is why I know grown ass straight men who squeal over other grown ass straight men.

We call it the “man crush” or the “girl crush” these days. It’s a real thing. But maybe it is better described in the above quote.

The difference between me & a teenaged girl is that I was accelerated beyond the speed of light & then returned to Earth, having seemed to age some. Also my brain crushes don’t evaporate with heat. They just…adjust.

I still turn up Depeche Mode to eleven.

Also? This.

Best. Birthday. EVAR.

Yes, even better than the birthday a beloved TV star ordered pitchers (literal pitchers) of the best tequila, followed by a separate event in which I received countless gin & tonics & a lesbian lap dance (which was not so much a dance as my lap was a bounce house for a tiny butt).

The deciding factor was of course the presence of my boyfriend, who was able to drive down for the weekend. Plus also Jesus. I shall explain.

A theme was set Friday when a beloved client popped in with this: 

 

and if you know me, you know I love me some flowers. Especially roses. My camera phone cannot do them justice & my arrangement skills are for shit, but trust me, these are gorgeous.

Saturday was my actual birthday. I turned 41, if you must know, & I happened to note about a month before that my beautiful church, Saint Thomas of Hollywood, was having a Latin vigil mass the same day with none other than LASchola. They are a choral group that sings ancient church music with such sacred harmonies that you will cry. Shut up, you will. Anyhow, a number of my friends keep making noises about joining me for a church service, as it is pretty much the only thing I ever talk about, but few have followed through.

So I thought “What better way to spend my birthday than with Jesus & my boyfriend & my family & 200 of my closest LA friends?” Out went the Facebook invite. “Come! Reception to follow. Bring cash for the plate in lieu of gifts. Jesus gives infinite plus ones, so bring everyone!” but more articulate, sort of. 

The Los Angeles rule of invites is it’s ok to invite everyone because maybe ten people will respond & of those, 5 will show up. Well, not including church friends, I bagged exactly 7! And we partied hard, y’all. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The point is, 7 of my non-church friends, plus my mum, brother, sister & her boyfriend came to a Latin mass, the most massy of all masses, on a Saturday night, when they could have done virtually any other thing with their time. I am blessed & honoured.

We always have a reception in the parish hall when LA Schola sing, so we walked up in da club to a wine bar. I am abstaining for Lent, but my friend (acolyte, vestryperson, future bishop of Los Angeles if there’s any justice) explained to me canon law & how yes, absolutely I can & in fact ought to have some wine. She then handed me a giant bunch of flowers, as did my sister (left to right, respectively):  

 

so we took over a table & piled flowers & presents & were joined by my dear church friends & talked & laughed & ate cheese & delicious gluten free cupcakes for hours. My brother signed (in ASL) that he was happy, bear hugged Father, challenged us to a mild dance off where we had to wiggle our bums, & displayed his ominous psychokinetic powers when Father turned to the exact page in his birthday book that is my brother’s birthday.

I was achy, so we didn’t stagger around Hollywood after as suggested. We eventually made it home, watched Lost Highway (one of three David Lynch films gifted to me by my roommate, which she now probably regrets), & finally went to sleep.

I awoke Sunday morning very sore, but to glorious cuddles from the boyfriend & Persephone (Girl Cat) on his chest. We decided brunch at Hugo’s was in order, & he got me my favourites: gluten free eggs benedict & almond energy pancakes. (Celebrity sighting: Jackson Galaxy). We then drove up Mulholland Drive to Outpost to see a house we had fallen in love with online. Impressed by the secure, high walls (i.e. you can’t see shit from the street), we returned to the Valley in a circuitous route taking us past unique & beautiful homes. A set of octagonal pod apartments jutting over a canyon here, a house entirely covered in mosaic tile there. 

We came home, & my roommate consented to Blue Velvet, which again, you know, she probably regrets.

The boyfriend & I had dinner at our new favourite Chinese restaurant, watched The Walking Dead finale (highly satisfying), & said goodbye to each other as he was returning this morning.

I got to spend my birthday with many of the people I love, & it was fantastic.