Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Here Lies Martha

When I was in (Catholic) elementary school I spent 30 minutes every morning in chapel, an hour each Wednesday in school religious service, an hour every school day in religious studies, a few hours every Sunday in community church, and 15 minutes after school in prayer.

Yet. Somehow. I came away with the belief that when you die, you sorta sit around in your body, rotting underground, until Jesus' second coming when you're judged and get shuffled off to Heaven or Hell.

If you know the real Catholic afterlife belief, then you got me. I obviously don't pay attention in class. Or before class. Or after class. Or on Sundays.

But onward...

I believed this purely and literally. I had no doubt in my mind that after I died, my soul would sit around in my body until the second coming.

Thus, I became very obsessed with the second coming.

How long was it going to be? Two years? Twenty years? A millenia? (Ok, fine, I didn't know the word millenia back then.) What about people who had been dead for tons of years? What were they doing?

I was convinced I would be horrible at being dead. I wasn't, and am still, not good at sitting still. I'm antsy. So I began to practice.

I would lie (lay? Adrienne, help me out here) on my back, close my eyes, and think to myself, "I'm dead. Now what?" Could I still sleep? Or would my soul be "on" all the time? What could I do with that time? Wouldn't I just go nuts? What about my mom and dad? Could I visit with them?

In my considerable prayer time, I would ask, beg, and plead for Jesus to hurry it up already and come while I was still alive so I wouldn't have to be dead and lie-ing (lying? laying?) around waiting for him. What the heck was he waiting for anyway? Now's a good as time as any, right?

I'm not sure when I shook this belief, but habits die hard and when I go to sleep at night and close my eyes I almost never find sleep because as I lie (it is lie, right?) there in the dark, I still think to myself - now what?

12 comments:

Sophie Littlefield said...

you would *lie* there, darlin'

and i find this *fascinating*
me, i lay in bed thinking about the deadly spiders that would bite me leaving me dead by morning....

which means, i think, that we are both part dean koontz (perhaps you and i together made a whole one)

Mysti said...

Wow! How does anyone survive Catholic school?

I used to spend about three minutes making sure equal affection had been given to each stuffed animal, and then was out like a light. Heathens sleep well, at least until racoon mating season...

Martha Flynn said...

Well, it's good to know I'm not the ONLY crazy one at bedtime. The hubs just, ya know, closes his eyes and falls asleep leaving me to wonder how he does it!

L.G.C. Smith said...

For a while when I was nine and ten and my parents were into Edgar Cayce and the Dalai Lama, and I read what they were reading, I would lie awake trying to anchor my spirit in my body so an out of body experience wouldn't sneak up and me. Because then I might have trouble getting back to my body, and then I'd be floating around high up in the atmosphere doomed to watch all the other kids grow up and finally have some fun.

Then when I was 12 and 13, my parents went pentecostal, and I would lie awake at night praying wildly that the Second Coming would hold off until I'd had a chance to grow up and have sex. Then at nineteen, I had a bad six months where I couldn't fall asleep because what if I ceased to be? I wouldn't even know it! Curse all existentialists. Grr.

Most of the rest of my life, I've daydreamed about other times and places and made-up characters to lull me to sleep. That's the best option.

Stephanie said...

I had a pretty intense evangelical upbringing and used to pray for the Second Coming too, but more so I would know the whole deal was actually true. My plan was to use the five (or ten? -- it's been a while) years of the Tribulation to get myself back on track.

I used to lie awake at night worried about the Rapture happening while I was in the car with my mother because I wouldn't be able to reach the pedals and stop the car without crashing.

I was a very serious child. :)

Martha Flynn said...

Did your parents have any idea about these deep thoughts? I know mine were oblivious!

Stephanie said...

No! I *never* would have confessed to having that kind of doubt! Now of course I know that my parents would have at least tried to make me feel better, but at the time, I just thought it was my own failure and that they'd be angry.

heidi said...

As a student (survivor?) of Catholic, Lutheran and a fundamentalist Christian school, I've got stories.

Gigi Pandian said...

One of my fears is that I'm too well adjusted to be a great writer. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. No deep night-time thoughts for me.

Martha Flynn said...

you're an enigma in more ways than one, gigi.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Wow, Martha. Just wow. Lots of fodder for lots and lots of stories, well told.

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