It was our clarion call to wrestle. There we would be, my older brother Charlie and I sitting at the counter with spoons still clanking the bottom of cereal bowls, when one of us would taunt the other with these four words.
To signify the other had accepted, he or she would answer the call with a theme song, one stolen from our favorite morning cartoon. “Darkwing Duck! When there’s trouble, just-a call D.W.” It doesn’t make any sense now, and it didn’t then. But we laughed, racing down the hallway to my parents’ bedroom for the match.
We climbed up on to the bed, picking up pillows and dropping them on the ground below for padding. To start the fight, we’d face each other on all fours and wiggle our butts in the air until someone made the first lunge. It was usually me. I had no restraint at 7-years-old.
Charlie usually pinned me quickly, but the game was called “Push off the bed,” not “Keep her in a headlock.” I had my nails though – long, sharp, girl nails – for the swiping. He had the strength of a boy two years older than I. I was often on the ground in less than ten seconds.
It didn’t take more than a few blows before I started feeling defeated. It was then that I underwent my ritual for recharging. Wordlessly, I’d vanish from the room, surfing on my socks back to the kitchen. I’d open the refrigerator, poor a huge class of milk, and then run back to the room, white drops falling to the floor behind me. Charlie and I always loved a good dose of drama.
There, in front of him, so he could witness the superhuman strength I was about to receive, I drank the whole thing in one gulp, like Popeye and his spinach. I wiped my mouth. Let out a big AH for effect. And returned to the ring with the ferocity of a feral cat.
So what does any of this have to do with going to church?
Going to church is like drinking my weekly dose of superjuice.
Lately I’ve been trying to focus less on the sermon as the pinnacle of Sunday worship and refocus on the sacraments as my instruction in gratitude. So it was a feast for my Catholic appetite when last Sunday at church we got to receive not just one, but two off these gifts.
Our march down the aisle to receive the Eucharist was interrupted by a stop at the font where we remembered our baptisms. One of the pastors raised his hands to my forehead and dripped water down the bridge of my nose.”You are my beloved, Daughter, in whom I’m well-pleased.” The words of the Father, spoken to her son after his baptism, washed down my face. Next, I proceeded to the communion table where I was handed a piece of bread by a man I didn’t know and dipped it into a cup shared by many. “Body of Christ, broken for you. Blood of Christ, shed for you.”
I marveled, Where else could I go to let old men wash me? Where else could I go to let strange men feed me? Where else could I go to witness a guaranteed miracle between water, wine, and my wounded heart?
I was kneeling at the front of the sanctuary now when the song started playing in my head. God’s been speaking to me on my knees these days. Strange things. Fun things.
“Darkwing Duck! When there’s trouble, just-a call D.W.”
Aha, I thought to myself. This is like that.
I looked around the room, sort of teary eyed. These are my witnesses.
I wiped the corners of my mouth with the back of my hand. This is my superjuice.
I stood up to return to my pew. This is my AWE.
There is strength enough for another wrestle. And I’m feeling wild with courage.