When a Writer Goes to Church

Cloister of the Cathédrale Saint Sauveur, Aix en Provence

I have never found myself in a position where I couldn’t write something down. Ideas float away so quickly, I’ve taken great pains and spent a great deal of money to ensure I am able to pin them down somehow. I have a lovely little HP laptop at home and a Chromebook I carry everywhere. It connects to any network and never gives me a problem. It’s lightweight, fits easily in my carryall, and lets me work offline. In a pinch, I save ideas on my phone either by emailing myself or typing in Evernote. I have an assortment of notebooks placed randomly around the house and in my car. I even have a miniature keyboard for the Samsung tablet I use as a reader.

But a few weeks ago, I found myself in a situation where I was unable to record my thoughts. Unlike many who have no problem whipping out a cell phone and checking email or texting in church, I just can’t do it. I am convinced, as retributions, I would be hit by a bus or something equally painful the very minute I stepped foot from church property. Nor have I been the faithful churchgoer of late which makes me inclined to behave when I actually do make it to mass. My pastor, the best priest ever, retired, and like a cranky old poop, I decided I didn’t like the new one. He was loud and theatrical. The ceremony resembled a dress rehearsal rather than an hour of worship. Way too showy, I harrumphed. Who did he think he was anyway trumpeting in such a dramatic baritone he overpowered our lovely cantors, the lead in Hamilton? Quite stuffily, I decided to find another church. Sixteen months later that still hasn’t happened. On Easter, knowing there was no possible way I could guiltlessly stuff my face with chocolate without going to mass, I went. Since I was visiting family in North Carolina for the holiday, I was spared Father Broadway. The service at my parent’s church was lovely, the alter awash in Easter lilies, and just as I was settling in to enjoy the service, like a fat little bumblebee punch drunk on nectar, an idea for a story flew into my head and began to bounce around.

I ignored it. It persisted. I waved it away. Back it came. I began to feel antsy and shifted from foot to foot. It zoomed around my head buzzing incessantly. I began to feel frantic. I couldn’t concentrate. My fingers inched toward my phone to trap the idea before it caromed off some gray matter and flew away never to be heard from again.

Suddenly, by the grace of God, I sneezed. Not once, not twice, but three times. Anyone who suffers from pollen allergy knows such an attack calls for at least two Kleenex which I didn’t have. With a prayer of thanks, I surreptitiously slipped my phone into my skirt pocket and dashed up the aisle for the restroom and a few blessed moments to capture the bumblebee.

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