I, ilvs strauss, went to church last sunday. the weather, I will have you note, is particularly absent of lightning thunder brimstone and locust plagues. perhaps I still have some credit on my tab from all those years at catholic school.
for the record, I am not opposed to church on a whole. in fact, I have been a recent, willing attendee at the center for spiritual living, st mary magdalene (er, sp? so much for my credit. . .), and 'word church' (2nd sunday's at hidmo. its like writing group meets meditation spirit group. with snacks.). but catholic mass, father it has been way way a long time. years+. so why go back? my gramma and great aunt were in town specifically to attend mass in support of some padres they know. it worked out that I had sunday morning free of obligations and the means with which to drive myself 35 minutes north of my cap hill bubble to BOTHELL. need I point out the coincidence that is the aitch ee double hockey stick that takes up slightly more than half the spelling of this picturesque suburb? didn't think so.
I got there early to try and catch my gramma coming in. suzy was running exactly just shy of late which left me time to pace the lobby and try my hand at inconspicuocity. not the easiest feat in stripped pants and a gray fedora. for a time I watched two alter boys adjusting their outfits. they wore short green ponchos (oh I'm sure there's a proper term for that. . . there's a few more points down the drain) over their white robes and one kid was having a particularly difficult time getting his to sit right. with his buddy offering help in the form of agitated directives, the kid gave up the struggle and took off the green poncho altogether to start fresh. this left him standing in his sneakers, shaking the poncho out like a bullfighting cape, all the while the pointy white hood of his robe was pulled up over his head. now, I have seen a few alter boy outfits in my day and never had I seen one with a hood. a tall pointy white one. it looked a little too grand wizardy to me. but little. so like, baby grand wizard. i directed the thought 'put your hood down' over and over for as long was my stare length did not dip into creepy.
my great aunt showed up eventually, joining me in the back row where I had parked myself, my raincoat, scribbling notes on scratch paper. maggie sat with me while suzy parked the car and in the few minutes before mass got going, busied herself with fixing my appearance as best she could. 'don't cross your legs we are not at a saloon!' (ok, saloon's a rough translation.) but it's comfortable! 'take your hat off!' it's keeping my hair in place! 'your hair! it's sticking up all over!' that's what the hat was for! I quietly, respectfully obliged. location and timing and more so the fact that the source of these jabs originated from a well intentioned 5 foot tall woman in her 70's who loves me to pieces kinda shelved my defensiveness and irritation. also, I think it was at that moment I looked up at the alter for the first time to see the crucifix, a sight that made me chuckle out loud. jesus was not affixed to the cross as is the norm. instead, the life sized wooden figurine was slightly to the left of middle of cross, his disproportionately small arms lifted skyward, a long ankle length cape flowing behind him in what looked like mid-soar. super. I spent much of mass trying to decide if he was in a big rush to get somewhere or just to get out of there.
basically, mass was boring. the fashion sported by the general populace was boring. the songs were droned in one part harmony. service was as sombre as ever, but with out any of the incense or stained glass that made the churches of my youth a little gothic, therefore cool.
post mass, both my aunt and my gramma in their own time, each with an iron grip on my wrist, had a priest give me a blessing. now, I have no objection to being prayed for. it feels nice, actually. but to try an save a kid from drowning when she is nowhere near a body of water feels a touch, oh I don't know, suffocating. and slightly annoying. my great aunt's greatest wish it seems is for me to to go church. catholic church. 'please mijita, go to church. jesus is waiting for you.' I straight up lie to her face and say, 'Yes, OK.' the priest is watching this exchange.
one of these days I will have to tell her, in the nicest way possible, that she might as well stop asking and realize that I'm not gonna walk thru those same doors she values so much. no matter what she says or does or how hard she prays. besides, I found a secret squirrel door round back that gets me in just the same. they let me dress how I want, there's healthy snacks, and it connects to a cool trail thru the woods to boot. so long liturgy, I got a sunrise to kiss.