Last week, the Catholic Church did away with limbo, that mysterious land for unbaptized babies. This was never a popular idea, even among the most devout and there was not a lot of fanfare when it went bye-bye. Now the term can be reserved for its truer meaning, all that is unchanging and unknowable in our own lives. Not quite heaven and not quite hell, I think of limbo like a doctor's office waiting room I frequented where a grandmother sat with her teenage grandson while he repeatedly fondled himself underneath his sweatpants while she told him, to "cut that nasty shit out." She read an old newspaper to kill the time, and I didn't have anything, an oversight to be sure. Time goes slowly in such circumstances, leaving you to think about all that is wrong with you. Waiting rooms, those small places before you receive your judgement, leave you with nowhere to look except straight ahead or at ancient magazines about parenting or staying healthy, crap that I couldn't stand reading, even in this dark hour. Someone will be with you shortly, a nurse called out.
I did not like my doctor at the time -- his bedside manner sucked, and he was forever asking questions like, Do you think about harming yourself? usually when I was there for a sinus infection. He loved pushing the Prozac, which I never accepted, although I did get a complimentary Prozac paperweight for listening to his spiel about the wonders of the drug. You won't feel good and you won't feel bad, he said. You'll just feel more balanced. No heaven, no hell, just gliding. Like limbo. I don't mind limbo as a rule -- there's a lot to learn from situations that have no easy solutions and that hold more wonder than you can imagine. There's something for being between worlds, in transition. But to live there forever with no hope, well, I'm with the Catholic Church on this one -- it's not an idea that I favor. My paperweight has long since been given away, but I imagine it's still out there in the world, holding things down in its own effortless way.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Geese love this shattered wheat too/ They will die for it." Raymond Carver
Drinking short story collection suggestion: In Constant Flight Elizabeth Tallent
Benedictions and Maledictions