The Church of the Ask
I belong to the church of the ask
I belong to the church of putting a time and place on a flyer and then
with heart in throat putting body in motion
to be there and face failure
in the form of knowing the truth about my fellow humans
I belong to the church of schlepping my organs out of carrying my skin to the place
at the time.
I belong to the church of exultation
I belong to the church of opening one’s mouth in a crowd
I belong to the church of assessment, post-mortem rebirth
I too belong to the church of the question
and this wilderness: the lying in bed with a fine-pointed fear of not knowing the next right action.
I have wondered what I have done to prepare my son for the future's trials
and thought well, he can make a grilled cheese sandwich.
But the truth is that over toast I explained the rally today as I explain all
rallies, and I realized that for him communal action will be a reflex.
I realized that he has been welcomed there
I realized that if he stays in that church and someone needs him to lead and
I am no longer there to soothe his nerves he will have both my voice in his
head and my approval in his heart
If he is called to lead he has the eyes and face and hands and voice for it
And I have given this to him
with humility saying
use your power for good
I may not have made cookies enough but
we wrote our first angry letter when he was four
two sensitive birds with loud calls
And I realize this on a day of two actions, finding clipboards, printing flyers
donning the sloganed t-shirt
I wrote a book to save this thread
So now if life should take my body
I surrender it to the church of the ask
and I can leave this place fulfilled,
my voice and the voice of his grandfather in his ears
I do not belong to the church of no fear
I belong to the church of nod to your fear and let it accompany you
I belong to the church of your fear is not your enemy
I belong to the church of what more reliable friend do you have besides your fear: your protector, your weathervane?
I belong to the church of listen to your gut
though my training has been hard, my doubt severe, my prayer imperfect in
the rituals that would have let me trust that gut-god
I am 45 and it is a quiet park within me though, grown like lichen on cold
I belong to the church of the glorious failure and narrow shoulders
My church is the church that will be criticized at every historical juncture
but that is our crown of thorns, our cup, our banquet
our secret wealth
I belong to the church of I’m so fucking tired I could cry.
The transubstantiation of showing up with my outline drawn twice, my
grandfather getting to go along with me for the ride, my double-outline
I belong to the church of a small body briefly mattering, of Warren Zevon’s deathbed wish.
I belong to the church of do it anyway, the church of showing up for the
selfish reason of having your belief in humanity reaffirmed
A limited-time offer
working the system with your middle-class wiles, shouting beyond it with
your working-class pedigree,
knowing the name of the night security guard
knowing you can only do so much in a day