Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Real Food

Everyone understands the difference between diet ice cream and the real thing.

It's true at first for diet soda as well.  But if you drink enough of the stuff, you start to forget what the sugar laden version is like, and come to prefer the not real carbonated concoction.  What we do as habit comes to define us.  

Ergo, if we start to divest ourselves from the real world, staying plugged into the computer and our Ipod and texting rather than talking, having virtual friends with no actual face time and playing simulated instruments rather than sitting to practice on the real piano or guitar, we will eventually grow to think of those pursuits as being really real, when they are not.   We will prefer the virtual simmulated world we can control to the messy organic chaotic experiece of the real which invovles struggling if not suffering as the price of progress.

If you read the Last Battle by C.S.Lewis, he talks about the real Narnia as opposed to the experience all of us have enjoyed over the 7 books, (Silver Chair and Prince Caspian not withstanding).  In the real Narnia, water is really wet, as opposed to here which now in comparison, one understands to be dry water.   Playing Rock Band is dry water to practicing the hard slug day in and day out of mastering a real drum set or guitar.   So also, liking and commenting on facebook, while it has promoted reconnecting with people in a tangential way, is not the realness of going out to lunch or actually encountering other people. 

Today, we struggle not to become a nation full of unreal people who do not have the self knowledge that they are as of yet, not real because they haven't yet surrendered sufficiently to love to become fully alive. They go on about their lives, Buzz Lightyear pre-epiphany of his flightless state, superimposing on the world their ideas of themselves and presuming it is correct.  They drink but do not taste, eat but do not savor, and practice to no effect. 

Why?  Simple.  Real is complicated. Real demands more of us than our fallen selves, absent grace want to or will give.

This weekend, we went to mass en masse, and my younger children ensured that whatever else we were that Sunday, we were real.   Three children sang like angels but also rearranged chairs, complained about how long mass was, and one played glom onto Mom like a skin graft even when she's kneeling while the other two pushed for a turn.   The four year old sat on his brother's shoulders because he kept touching the light switches or pushing over books, the two year old insisted on taking walks in the back foyer every five minutes or becoming completely physically rigid in an arch three point stand of her head and feet while screaming.  

The older set, not to be left out, had a cold war over the sign of peace, and an editorial in one of the songs, where one child sang loudly and well to emphasize that another wasn't singing at all.   "Am I being good Mommy?" one child was asking.  Another was declaring in a loud voice and partially crying, "I'm not being good. I'm never good." and wailing despite hugs, shushes and distractions "Hey, there's a song, let's sing!"  I felt the weight of why are we killing ourselves doing this?  What is the point? What is our purpose? Who needs all this grief?  Did they hear anything? Are they hearing anything?  Did I hear anything?   I could have been sleeping....but then, what we practice...we become...I would have become...asleep...(Sigh I hate/love when that flash of understanding rebukes in an instant what I was happy grousing about only two minutes ago).  

What we profess...we come deeper to children, me, none of us were perfect...we were here because of our severe imperfection, we were here with all our real realness. Thus it is with the Eucharist, this is the real presence of Christ, otherwise it is not worth our time or our energies, it is real food, everything else we eat, no matter how delicious or virtuous or decadent or wonderful, is dry water.   We were here to become more real.  We were here to eat real food and real drink so we could go out into the world and help make it more real. 


Kristen @ St Monica's Bridge said...

I dropped out of facebook and twitter back on December 1 and rearranged my work schedule to ensure that I could every week a) go to mass on Sunday and b) go to the same mass each week. I have so gone through thinking every word you posted here (although I don't have as many kids, I have one with autism who makes loud noises, one who loudly asks when to go home and one who picks his nose and puts boogers under the pew...sorry people, I try to clean as much of them off as possible!) particularly about how we become in the virtual world and tell ourselves it is "real." Thank you, thank you for this post.

maria mcclure said...

Awesome post Sherry. Thanks for the smack back to REALity. That month you took was WELL spent.

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