You Scratch My Back…

Backscratcher

Image by San Diego Shooter via Flickr

Now that the local Unitarian Universalist congregations are done with their summer schedules and are back to regular Sunday services, we’re back to visiting churches.

Today, the minister offered a reading in which Rev David Bumbaugh suggests that the fall of mankind wasn’t caused by an apple or a conversation with a snake, but rather by a backscratcher. The idea is that until the backscratcher, when we had that itch we couldn’t quite reach between our shoulderblades, we had to have someone else scratch it. By allowing us to reach the itch on our own, the backscratcher gave us the idea that we could be self-sufficient, and we were banished from the Garden where all creatures are interdependent into a world where we’re all trying to go it alone.

I’ve had some trouble developing the kind of community I want since we moved here. Granted, it’s only been three months, but I’m feeling particularly sensitive to the setbacks and plunge into hopelessness rather too readily, I think (at least I hope it’s too readily). I’ve found myself listening longingly to that surly voice in my head that says, “I don’t need them! I don’t need anybody!” The voice sounds a lot like Steve Martin in The Jerk.

Being at church today reminded me just how much I do need that interaction and that interdependence. It’s a painful reminder because it means I have to keep on trying and keep on risking rejection (or at least missed connections, which feel to me like rejections).

As painful as it is, though, it’s just what I needed to hear today.

Back to the socializing grind. Well, maybe after I energize with a few hours of reading.

4 comments

  1. Melanie Meadors · September 25, 2011

    Yes, you can understand why I… well, don’t like to deal with those people very much. Watch out at the post office there. Unless he retired, there is a particularly nasty guy that works there that thinks just everyone should know how to do everything (mailing international packages, for example) and if you don’t, it’s like you are personally affronting him (is that the right word?). Have you noticed the lack of street signs (LOL You’ve heard THAT enough from me to know it’s my pet peeve). It was explained to me that they don’t keep up with the signs because everyone around there knows the street, and who cares about the people who “don’t belong” there.

    Hmm, I want a hug and some food.

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    • CJ · September 26, 2011

      Yes, I have noticed the lack of street signs. That’s when I close my eyes and use The Force to find my way to my destination. Or the GPS. Although the GPS tried to convince me I could drive through a meadow the other day. Guess I “don’t belong.”

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  2. Melanie Meadors · September 25, 2011

    Every time I try to do something here, it lasts for like three weeks, and then suddenly, poof, no one comes anymore. It’s been like that with other groups I joined too. So frustrating. Meanwhile I hear about all these wonderful things that happen out west, and wonder what the difference is between here and there.

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    • CJ · September 25, 2011

      There were plenty of things I did out West that petered out, too. I’m thinking of a book club I was in charge of. Everyone would say, “Oh, yes, I’m so excited to discuss this book!” and then the day of the club would come around and no one would show up. In that instance, the way I had it set up, although it was the best set-up for me, wasn’t ideal for the rest of the group. They really did want to talk about the books on the list, they just couldn’t make it at the times or the frequency I’d set it up for. (Or maybe they just hated me, which is possible.)

      In contrast, I had a very successful writing group in North Carolina, but I never could get one to fly in California. So, I’m not sure it’s necessarily an East Coast/West Coast thing. And this feeling of not-quite-fitting-in is not at all a new thing for me, regardless of where I’ve lived.

      The biggest differences I’ve found here are the general keep-to-ourselves-edness (compared to California where everyone hugged and Utah where everyone brought you food) and a kind of sarcastic edge that I find particularly cutting (it manifests itself when people seem to think I should have knowledge of local processes and procedures without being told. Like when the city water person got upset with me that I thought she could direct me to the right person to ask about garbage pickup. I even got it a little bit this morning when I went to get my son from the Sunday School nursery before I got my daughter from the playground. One of the teachers got a little snippy with me because, apparently, the playground kids are supposed to get picked up first. It’s like some people assume I’m trying to be an a** to them when I really just don’t know the protocol. But another teacher came over and apologized, so that was kind of nice, at least).

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