I'm sitting at work, wrapped in a quilt and drinking a mug of toffee tea, thinking about the small Baptist college I went to the year after high school when the girls in the dorm would sit on the floor drinking tea and reading Max Lucado to each other, talking in code and holding each other "accountable" to those nice Christian boys that were suspiciously good at unfastening bra clasps. We were eighteen with curfews of 10:00, no boys in our bedrooms, no drinking, no sex (certainly not!), choir practice, youth group activities, evangelism classes, cliche Christian puppet shows and forced bible memorization. I came away from that place with a smattering of new knowledge, a ten pound skinner self from the stress, and a very clear idea of the kind of Christian I did not want to be on the days when I still wanted to be a Christian.
The year after that I went to live in a town of 100 people, to be a part of the community that ran a Christian theatre and acting school that performed for over 35 000 patrons each year. There, I learned to swear like a sailor, adore Stanislavsky, perform Brecht, demand art, drink wine, swim naked, float down a river and cook for twenty with hardly two pennies. We drank tea on the floor there, too, from a five dollar pot that my mom bought me from Zellers before I left, along with some thin pots and pans that burnt everything but water. And I sang in the choir, too, had voice lessons and bible studies, church and work. We prayed. We talked about sex and love and bodies and boundaries with boys alongside us. We spent evenings reading scripts out loud in the living room of our house with the candles glowing and the tea pot clinking against mugs. I gained ten pounds from happiness. I left with a mad crush on Jesus and no patience for puppets in church. Hand held or otherwise.