On two separate occasions this weekend — on Friday evening and again on Sunday morning — I found myself in deep discussions with fellow parishioners about life inside "The Bubble." I had heard people talk about "the bubble" (lowercase) before to reference our neck of the woods: the small(ish) communities of St. Michael and Albertville, home to lots of good all-around folk. But I hadn't realized "the bubble" was actually "The Bubble" — and has come to mean, more specifically, the thriving Catholic communities in which people still have big families and pray the rosary and make it to Mass on Sunday (and any other time they can).
On Friday, I spoke with two other men about venturing outside The Bubble to work each day, the stuff going on "out there" we can't stomach or abide, and the challenges this poses to our faith and sanity (not to mention our employment). On Sunday, the topic was the insidious encroachment of the outside world into The Bubble — the impossibility of shutting out the world entirely, and how best to manage the slivers of darkness that pierce the iridescent dome and seek to pop!
Sounds almost Amish, doesn't it?
Then on Sunday night I had a dream, in which I was floating on a rubber raft of some sort in the twilight, while gathered around me were various coworkers from jobs past and present, none of whom I ever got along with particularly well. It was a meeting of sorts, except we were adrift, and I was the target of insufficient direction, unwarranted criticism, and a couple of disturbing come-ons. By the time I reached shore I was livid...and (this being a dream) got on my black and gold Huffy Challenger 3000
bicycle and headed straight home.
Home, in this case, was my childhood home on Littlefield Lake, which was a blissful place to be a boy. I rode back to old neighborhood, but, since I was still quite angry, circled the block atop the hill that sloped down to our house and the lake, blowing off steam, knowing my family didn't deserve the brunt of that bizarre meeting. It was a damp spring day, and the roads were muddy — it must've snowed recently, because although it was warm and the grass was greening, along the shoulder of the roads were piles of wet snow a snow plow had kicked up.
Finally I headed down the hill, thinking I would have to push my bike through the heap of wet snow at the end of the driveway. But when I turned the corner, a number of friends from "The Bubble" were shoveling our the end of the drive. My CRHP brother* John M. was there, laughing and throwing snow at the other workers; our dear family friends Butch and Laura were there, joyfully lending a hand; Jim V. from the KCs was there; and more.** They shouted greetings and waved me through. In the garage, Butch and Laura's oldest son and Bren were conspiring to avoid shoveling and go fishing instead.
It is a comfort to come home each evening to a community of faith and stability — with like-minded people who know where you stand and what you aspire to be. Last night at Adoration, while praying the Third Joyful Mystery, the Incarnation, it struck me: The Word Made Flesh isn't just the Christ child born two millenia ago; it's the Body of Christ working in concert here in this world, today, to bring about the Kingdom of God. I'm glad to be a part of it.
* Christ Renews His Parish retreat
** These names are important because they represent the spectrum: a number of fellow Catholics I know in very different ways...