I ended up in a Protestant church this year. There is actually a Catholic church very close by, but it’s hard to beat what amounts to a stone’s throw in distance. That combined with the fact that I have an exam tomorrow is ultimately how I found myself in a cozy, well lit church, surrounded by a bunch of pastel-clad kids and well-dressed adults.
Church and I have had an interesting relationship. Growing up, it was not a question. It was habit, routine, without choice or very much thought to be honest. Then as I grew older, I actually resented attending church. I felt surrounded by Judge-y McJudge-y Pants and I felt out of place, a misfit. Now I’m more of the mind that while there are some narrow-minded, Holier-Than-Thou sorts at church, there are almost plenty of wonderful people who are just trying their best.
So when I went this afternoon for the first time in awhile, I found myself oddly touched. The music, the space, the light, the flowers. Everything and everyone seemed very sweet and well-intentioned. To a certain extent, everyone’s trying to get by, to do their best, and I felt that commonality very deeply today.
- I sat in the very last, high-backed pew and in front of me was a man, his two small children, and what appeared to be his mother. The kids were funny because the little boy was insane (as kids tend to be). His collar was popped and he was full of energy. Eventually his dad pulled out a cupboard, crayons, and blank paper to try to settle him down. Instead this 3 or 4 year old just started talking more because he needed a lot of help writing The Next Great American Novel. At one point he asked “How do you spell ‘sleepy’?” which amused me. I imagined this whole Easter “church” endeavor was taking far too long for him. He eventually fell over or something happened to cause a loud BANG.
- During peacetime, Catholic masses usually have everyone shake hands with adjacent people only. In this Protestant mass, everyone got up and circulated around. I thought, “Oh, is this what we’re gonna do now? This is how we’re going to play it? Alright.” And it was really lovely. Mass probably ran “over” due to this but c’est la vie. Catholic masses are over strictly at 1 hour. Today I didn’t mind. In the middle of mass, an elderly gentleman made an announcement about some kind of Church event at a nearby amusement park. “We might even have mass there!” He said. I was totally taken aback. Church in an amusement park? You can’t even get married on a beach in Catholicism—-true story. My 3rd grade teacher told us that the Catholic church did not recognize wedding ceremonies done under the open sky.
- Afterwards there was some coffee situation and an egg hunt.
I left the service thinking that that was how church should be. Granted, their church was very small so it is probably easier to create that sense of community and pleasantness, but it was just such a nice experience.