I know you’re all desperate to hear about art camp (hah), but before I post about that, I have some poetic religious gushing that I have to get off my chest. If you don’t want to read it, that’s fine, but I feel like it will offer a peek at my world view and my spiritual life, so if you’re interested, continue on.
I’ve put this post off because Saturday and Sunday I was too exhausted to do it justice, and I don’t want to lose my train of thought by putting it off any more. Almost the entirety of this post occurred to me during adoration on Saturday, so y’all should feel flattered that I’m thinking about you all the time. 😉
So on Saturday I went to a LifeTeen event at a theme park. (Not telling which one, for safety reasons, however feeble they might be.) We spent the day riding the roller coasters and eating overpriced ice cream and sweating a lot. It was incredibly hot. As fun as the roller coasters and the ice cream and the heat (ha) might have been, the best part started in the late afternoon, when we gathered in the stadium for Mass and adoration.
Before Mass started, we sang a bunch of Catholic songs and punched the air and danced — I recognized a guy who spoke at the Made to Love retreat I went to back in February. It was awesome.
Then there was Mass. As a rule, whenever our Archbishop says Mass, it’s awesome. You know how (or you may not know, actually) how Pope John Paul II was so invested and enthused about the youth? Our Archbishop is the same way. He’s fantastic. His homily was fantastic, but the part of the Mass that really spoke to me was the Eucharist. This seems to always happen to me at retreats, but because it always takes so long to distribute to Body and Blood, I end up having a lot of time to contemplate and it always really moves me.
I’d spent the whole week at art camp, surrounded by people who weren’t Catholic and probably weren’t even Christian. At one point during the camp, I’d had to explain how we Catholics don’t worship Mary, we just honor her. (That’s always fun, right?) I can’t help but pity my non-Catholic/non-Christian friends. I know they’re happy how they are, and I mean no offense by any of this, but I am so happy to be Catholic. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like not to have Mary or the saints in my life. Not to have the Eucharist; not to have adoration.
I have to wonder how it feels not to have that special relationship with our Heavenly Mother. I know that when I’m feeling the most alone – when I’m crying late into the night and can’t sleep because of the sobs pulling apart my chest – she’s the one who kisses my wounds and rocks me in her arms until I fall asleep. She’s the one who holds me, the one who comforts me. One night at camp I just lost it completely. I’d never felt so alone, so much loss, so empty inside. I spent a good fifteen minutes kneeling by the window and just crying my eyes out as quietly as I could so I wouldn’t wake up my roommates… I finally settled under the covers with my rosary and ended up falling asleep halfway through the third decade. She is with me when others aren’t, or can’t be. And I can’t imagine life without her.
As I knelt on the cement ground of the theme park stadium, watching the Archbishop give communion, I felt huge emotion welling up inside my chest. The band was singing How He Loves, which I absolutely love, and this one line just echoed through my head… “If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking…”
I felt so tired. Emotionally and physically, I was exhausted. I was sick (still am) of crying myself to sleep, of the ache in my heart that comes from nowhere and catches me unaware. I just wanted to stumble forward into His arms and drown in Him. I wanted to give everything to Him, and I did. My aches, my pains, my joys, my fears, my sadness, my excitement… Everything that I am, everything that I am to be, I want to surrender to him. I want every molecule, every particle of my being to be filled with Him – every time I breathe in I want Him to fill my lungs, to fill me inside and help me stand up, help me carry on, help me hold up my head. And I want it so desperately – the only thing I want as desperately is for my friends to be able to feel this way; to experience what I experience. I want the people I love to know how it feels to have Him in their life – not that they don’t already, but a lot of them don’t have Him in this way.
Not just my friends, either. The people on the roller coasters surrounding the stadium, their squealing cutting through the silence – not realizing how close they are to Christ Himself. Not realizing that the one person who loves them more than anyone on this earth ever will is right there. He loves them more than the boy sitting next to them on the coaster, more than the mother who tucked them in at night, more than the girl who broke their heart said she did. More than all of it combined. And they don’t even know it.
They don’t know how it feels to see the priest process in with the monstrance and to have their breath catch in their throat and their heart skip a beat. To not want to tear they eyes away until they have to because their vision is flooded with tears and they have to wipe their eyes.
If I am drowning, then I want to grab hold of everyone I know and drag them under with me, because drowning has never felt so beautiful and filled me with so much joy. My life has been rough and confusing lately, a lot like the roller coasters I rode on. There have been loops and twists, plummeting drops that still haunt me, and the inescapable fear that I am going to fall off the ride. But through it all, He has been with me, holding my hand and teaching me how to breathe again.
I realized on Saturday that Jesus is and always will be my one true love. He is my bridegroom, and every Sunday (and usually at some point during the week, too), I walk down the aisle to be with Him at the altar. He is the only man who will love me more than I could ever possibly love Him – even though I love Him with everything I have, He will always love me more because He can. I cannot love Him like He loves me because I am just human. I’m a weak and exhausted teenage girl, and despite my many flaws, He loves me and He always will, even when I sin, even when I break out in pimples, even when I feel like the most unloved and loneliest being alive – He is always there.
I am never truly alone. I cannot be. That is the simple truth that has kept me going since June. When love and hope and happiness feel as though they are gone from my life, there is someone there for me, there with me.
That’s why I pity people who don’t know Christ. Because without Christ, I would feel even more lost than I always do. I have a road map, and even though I feel like I can’t read it a lot of the time, I know I have it and the reassurance of that has kept me sane.
That’s why Catholicism is the most important aspect of my being. That’s why I go to Mass every Sunday and why I keep a rosary by my bed. That’s why Mary is my mother and my greatest friends don’t live on earth. Without Christ, without the Eucharist, without someone to feed me – someone to tell me to GET UP AND EAT – I would be nothing. I would not be able to go on.
Have a blessed evening, you guys. Stay tuned for some art camp shenanigans and some paintings and stuff. ‘Til then, best wishes! 🙂