I was raised Catholic. At 18 I became a charismatic/non-denominational nomad. 20 years later I am trying my Methodist on for size. I have a watercolor of Jerusalem in my office from a local artist who painted it for a Jewish prayer book. I am what you could consider a religious tradition junkie. However, despite my vast experience and research, I am not the person you want to sit by in church. I am naughty and a nun’s nightmare. (During our training for First Holy Communion, one such officious soul in a habit used her ‘clicker’ next to my ear repeatedly to get me to pay attention. I was giggling because the boy behind me kept passing gas.)
If there is a weird moment in church, I’ll notice it (or cause it). Once I was so overcome ‘by the spirit (or religious fanaticism…hard to tell) that I came to my senses under a table adorned with 3 foot high paper mache’ grapes which I thought were so funny I laughed until I lost my voice.
Lately, my favorite moments have been when I take my Father to mass. The last time I took him, a sweet soul in the front row answered every rhetorical question from the pulpit.
“We should seek Jesus with all we have,” said stately, dignified Priest Guy.
“Yes, we should,” said the sweet soul.
“Have you opened the door for the Lord? For he is knocking?”
“I’ll get right on that.”
I wanted to clap and cheer her on. Thankfully I did not.
This week, I took my Father to mass. I should have known it was going to be one of ‘those’ services as he decided to sit up front. Dad is on oxygen, can barely walk and has a broken volume sensor in his voice. It went like this.
“Daddy, how ’bout we sit here?”
“Nope, don’t want to be by those kids.” (Parents of said kids look our way as his voice echoed off the marble floors.)
“How about here?” Nope. Shuffle, walk, hack, shuffle. “Here?” Nope. Second row. Plunk down.
Behind us I could here the woman and her husband whispering.
“Should we tell her?” the woman said.
“No,” he replied.
“Really, I should tell her,” she insisted.
“No, dear, let her be,” he said.
This went on for about 3 minutes. Being the curious sort, and being in church, which somehow divinely gives me license to be a little left of center, I turn around.
“What should you tell her?” I blurt out.
“Your shirt is on backwards and inside out.”
Organ music swelled and everyone stood up. I ran to the closest door, which happens to be where the priest gets dressed. Probably the first time a bra was flashed in that room…or maybe not.
Later, as the ministers came forward to give communion to the several hundred parishioners, Dad says this in his faux-whisper.
“She should have changed out of her pajamas before coming up to the altar!”
Apparently, the lawyer in her ever-so-chic puffy pants did little for my father’s sartorial aesthetic. (In the interest of full disclosure, as she ascended the marble steps, I thought, “You go girl!” for her brave choice.)
The final moment which made my day was the choice to sing the Notre Dame fight song in homage to the members of the Notre Dame Club who were present at mass. I wanted to end it by shouting, “Touchdown!”
Another reason one should not sit by me, aside from randomly fixing my clothes and laughing inappropriately, is I sing. I can sing pretty okay. My volume is in proportion to the emotion behind the song.
This morning, I knew the songs so I sang them without reserve, without holding back, without fear. I just sang.
I sang because two of the songs were my Mother’s favorite. Along with a stubborn streak and a low tolerance for BS, my mother gave me the ability to sing. She had one of those high, lilting, whispy voices you had to lean in to fully appreciate. Her song was stilled three years ago. This morning I heard her voice, singing with mine, in my heart.
After one of those songs, my father wiped his teary eyes and said, “Beautiful! So beautiful.” He wasn’t talking about the pajama puffy pants. He was talking about me.
I’m taking that moment and folding it in my heart forever. I’ll remember the inside out shirt, the thunk of his oxygen tank on the pew and the hideous orange pants. I’ll remember his cold hand in mine as I sang. I’m sure he heard her too.
Not like, love, I’d sit by you in church any day.
I think I would like that very much, Glittery Sister. I have a feeling though, when we do ‘church’ together, it will be at the top of a mountain, after a hike as the sun sets. Not sure why, but I can picture it. Thank you for singing your song with me and so many others.
The singing would be done by LaDonna. She doesn’t carry a tune, she slaps it, calls it Myrtle and makes it stand up straight!
Oh, I’m really hoping this mountain is in Greece, not that I wouldn’t take any mountain. Let’s do it.
I’d sit on your other side and gossip about the people behind us with your. Or I’d provoke your father so HE said something embarrassing.
Either way, it’d be a great experience!
I have a feeling my Dad would not hesitate to join in. Shared on the way home from church how he told his occupational therapist he had no problem with ‘them gays’ it was all their lying about being gay which made him mad. *facepalm
You know you kept life completely entertaining in college! I was cracking up about the shirt change/adjustment!
Come hang at my church…you’d totally belong. You can sit by me. I sit in the front row…you’ll like it. Come visit me.
*begins to look up flights to Montana
Thanks for the beautiful post dear one. Nothing like a good, happy cry at 8 in the morning. Love you so much.
I cried as I wrote it. I miss her so. I miss him already. Love you. Just keep breathing.
Thanks for the early morning giggle!! 🙂
Thank you so much for posting this….I cried and laughed because I can see all this in my mind ….Love you so much…
KimRo! You’ve touched so many emotions in this post, I think I need a mood stabilizer! Abilify, anyone? Loved the whole thing! From the clicker nun to the great picture of your mom and dad! I laughed so hard at the grapes, I thought I broke my spleen! Ha! I can’t wait to worship with you and Steph, but I may have to bring the Time Travel Jeep and meet you guys at the top or my rendition of How Great Thou Art will be a little huff and puffy. 🙂 Sounds like heaven, though. I am sure Myrtle will be quite safe. Gosh, I love you!