Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fuck It All

I'll admit it.  I judge people by what they read, and secretly, I hope that they judge me too.  You see, I enjoy eating out, going for coffe, going to movies, shopping, etc. alone (most of the time).  When I walk into a restaraunt or coffee shop, I always scope out the other loners, focusing mainly on what they are reading.  I don't pay much attention to people with computers because it drives me nuts when someone cranes their neck over to see what I'm doing on my computer, so I don't even bother looking at computer screens of others.  I do, however, candidly peer at what the people holding printed material are choosing to read.  If it's a paper, I look to see which one.  Reading the New York Times?  The Other Paper?  Generally I am pleased with people reading newspapers, as I value that print medium.  If that person is reading a magazine, I start to get curious.  Good Housekeeping?  I wonder what your garden looks like.  Cosmo?  I wonder if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend and what they are like.  Vogue?  I wonder if you love Sex and the City as much as I do.  But books... oh books... I love being nosy and looking at what kind of books people read.  If it is a self-help book I want to know your life story.  If it is a finance book I wonder what you do for a living (don't ask me why... that's just what I think).  If it is a classic novel, I wonder if you are reading it for the first time or for the seventh.  My favorite is people who read books about spirituality.  My mind just reels with questions about that person.  Very seldomly do I say anything to the people reading the books, because when I finally get settled in with a good cup of coffee and I book, I don't like to be disturbed.  Today, however, I broke my rule.  

I walked into Chipotle (go figure...) and picked a seat in the sun, at a table for two.  I much prefer the barstools, but I couldn't find one in the sun, and recently I have just had this craving for natural light.  So I sat down, glanced over, and saw the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott face down on the table next to me.  The book did not have an owner, and I gazed around the restaraunt to find someone who looked like they could be reading this book.  After a few minutes, a woman sat down in front of the book, picked it up, and read for a moment.  Very shortly after taking up the book, she chuckled.  Catching herself laughing out loud, she looked around to see if anyone had noticed.  Seeing that I had, she turned red and apologized.  I told her that it was quite alright, and that when I read anything by Anne Lamott I laugh hysterically, despite my location.  After exchanging pleasantries about how much we enjoyed Annie's writings.  She asked if I would like to join her.  Normally I would decline, but I couldn't resist talking to her about my favorite author.  

We sat and chatted, and I recommended that she read Grace (Eventually) because she had already read Traveling Mercies.  We talked about how much we both enjoyed Traveling Mercies.  She asked me the context in which I had read the book.  I told her that the first time I read it, I read it just because I wanted to, and I have read it many times since.  Mentioning that I read it for class, she asked if everyone I read it with enjoyed it.  I told her mostly, but some people didn't appreciate her language and her humor.  She said, "Yeah, my friends, too..."  and then she thought for a moment and said, "I really like the way Anne writes.  Her faith is real, and it makes me feel as though my faith is more real than my stuffy Christian friends."  I must have had an interesting look on my face, because she continued, "I mean, sometimes don't you just want to throw up your hands and say, 'Fuck it all!'?"  

I chuckled and said that more often than not, that is what I want to say.  She said something to the extent that she can't handle people who have faith that is happy all of the time.  She likes knowing that sometimes faith confuses people, and they feel hurt, betrayed, or left alone by God.  She appreciated Anne's candid struggles, especially around raising her own son, Sam.  It was only then that she asked me what class I read the book for.  When I told her that it was for my spirituality class, she said, "Oh, so you're in seminary?"  I told her yes.  She said, "Is it weird that I don't care that I said 'fuck' in a conversation with you?"  That is what really got me thinking. 

That is the kind of pastor I want to be.  The kind that can be trusted to hear genuine struggle, not caring if someone says, "Fuck."  I want to be the person who can be honest in not only hearing, but in conversation. And do I say, "Fuck?"  Yes, sometimes I do.  


sarah said...

This MADE my day. it's always interesting to eat out alone too- I feel much more in tuned to others around me and also feel that others perceive me as much mroe approachable. I love encounters like this. awesome!

lisa said...

AMEN! :)

Ernest said...


Learning as I go said...

I love this post. And, I can agree with both of you- 1. wanting to say that, and 2. wanting to be a person people can come to with struggles etc. I guess it's just in different avenues of life (careers etc). Thanks for the smile :)

SC at COGS said...

While I never let my children drop the F-bomb, I do agree with what you said about the printed word.
Also, I am reserving Traveling Mercies at the library because I want to understand what you and your Chipotle friend like about her writing.
PS I love your other blogs too, especially the one about embarrassment.