Easter has come and gone and the promise of rebirth has once again come to fruition. The trees are budding, the crocuses and snowdrops are in bloom and in Connecticut where we spent our holiday, the daffodils opened with a nudge of the late March sun.
We awoke Sunday morning and attended Trinity Church in Hartford to celebrate the Christian’ s ultimate rebirth—Easter. It really did feel like a grand celebration this year! The sun was brightly shining and the church was filled with many generations and cultures of people. Donning purple, pink, yellow, white, blue frocks, the congregation joined in song and prayer. Children wriggled and parents carried the sleepy ones to the Alter for Communion. The feeling was friendly and welcoming yet the aesthetics—music and surroundings—were cultured and refined. The balance of these elements appeal to my sense of what is “right” with going to church.
The homily spoke to me clearly of the path that I am on during my pledge of abstinence from alcohol. The Rector preached about “removal, re-planting and Resurrection.” In a nutshell, the removal is the taking away of that which is not useful (my drinking habit). The replanting is the act of going to a place that is unfamiliar and of spreading the news (like writing in this blog). The first two processes describe that which I have done so far.
The Resurrection (or in my case—resurrection, lower case) is what concerns me most these days. Reaching the four-month mark at Easter, I just don’t know what my life, habits and relationship to alcohol will be at the end of the replanting stage. Will I be OK with drinking everyday? Will I swear it off completely? Will I be an occasional drinker? I have no end goal in mind and this worries me sometimes as I fear I will do exactly what I was doing before the removal of the habit.
I listened to a few of my relatives’ view on drinking this weekend. My in-laws and their peer group are daily drinkers. At 90, one of the dinner guests said, “I could never give up alcohol for a year.” He had just come off 40 days of not drinking for lent and was enjoying his first bourbon. My mother-in-law confirmed that they drink every day. To which I replied, “Well, it is not because you are unhappy. It is because it brings you pleasure and relaxation.”
The reason why I was drinking, I believe is the root of the problem and it was what bothered me the most. I was looking forward to the drink to kill the sensation of dissatisfaction with my work situation and the frustration of not knowing what to do about it. The social aspects of drinking did not worry me much. My brother-in-law spoke to me at length about not buying into the
“Protestant mentality” that anything pleasurable is bad and we need to stomp it out of our lives. He warned me not to overlook the fact that we are brought up in a culture where we are made to feel guilty about our pleasures—and that which is ingrained in us can mess with our happiness. He asked me to be aware of this in the future as I make my decisions about whether or not to have a drink at the end of the day.
I do believe that this mentality has an affect on our country. Many people in this country and beyond open a bottle of wine at the end of the day and enjoy it with the meal. When I go to Europe do I think this action is wrong or do I see it as a problem? No, I think wine is a beautiful thing and it is good for us within moderation. When someone from the US says that they drink everyday (even if it is just a glass of wine) there is a fear that we might be labeled as “having an alcohol problem.”
Taking many views of drinking into consideration at this time is a good process for me. I am observing, asking and listening like a scientist and trying to be certain that when the time comes, I will have a sense of what the right approach to drinking will be. I need to keep in mind that this process need not have a specific outcome. No matter what, the acting of removal and replanting will set me down it a different place than where I began.