Emma has been asking us about church lately and we thought that Easter would be a good time to introduce her to the whole experience. I made the suggestion that we should go with Corey's dad since he has been following a new path in his life and has asked us to join him a few times. Corey made the call to find out where and what time we should meet him. I thought that he was still going to the same church as he started out at which was one that I would have been familiar with from my own religious upbringing. Turns out that he has gone back to his Catholic roots and has found a church right close to his home, and that mass starts at 8:30 am! Hmmmm......okay well, that means get the kids up and dressed and out of the house by 7:15 am....on a Sunday.....uhh....maybe we bit off more than we could chew! I thought about changing my mind but, if Jesus could go through his own personal torture and die for my sins, I guess I can get my family to church to say thanks!
The morning rush to get everyone ready went so smooth, we were in the truck and on the highway 10 minutes ahead of schedule! So far so good, God really wants us there! Yay! We pick up Herb and off we go! The girls looked great in their new handmade dresses from their Great Aunty Jayne, Herb in his suit, and Corey and I cleaned up pretty good too! As we get closer to the building my heart starts to race with anticipation of going into the unknown. I have never been to an actual Sunday mass, as I am not Catholic, only been present for a wedding or two, and two graduations.
We were greeted with a friendly smile and a big Welcome from a lady, we marched behind Herb into the sanctuary. So far so good, we made it in the building, and God didn't make the earth shake, he must be okay with the fact we are here! We find a pew at the back and get the girls all set up with their backpack full of activities. Music is playing softly, a choir of men all lined up and ready to help us worship, everything so far seems about the same as what I know to be church. People are filing in and we are doing our best to fit in, not wanting to stick out like a sore thumb, like we are one of those people that show up for Easter and Christmas! But it didn't take long for the people around us to figure out that we were "first timers"!
A couple sat down beside us and lowered down what I thought was a foot rest. I politely said thank-you and got comfortable for just a second. Oh. You kneel on that, and it's for you pray on. Okay! Well my "cover" has been officially blown! I start to sweat and try not look nervous, telling myself it will get better once we start the singing. Singing I can do. I start to think of the old hymns I know and love, and picture my grandpa up at the front leading the congregation in song and praise, with the tap of his foot and the snap of his fingers to the beat. Grandma sitting in the pew upfront singing and harmonizing with a smile on her face and peace in her heart. Ahhhh....the comforts of church. I can do this!
The music starts and the overhead screens light up....here we go! Which one will we start with? Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross? Nope. A tune I don't know and the words to go with it. Okay, I'll try and hum......that's not working either, how about I just listen and maybe catch the next one. The choir continues along with the piano, flute and drums, they sounded great. Sad that I couldn't sing along but happy to be with my family, and even more amused at my kids as they stared and tried their best to take in all the action. The music portion didn't last as long as what I was used to and the readings began.
The woman read her piece, the congregation replied, and again I was lost.
I lean over to Corey and ask, "We're supposed to talk back?"
Confused, I am looking for the script we are following, STILL trying my best to "look" like I know what I'm doing. Everyone does the sign of the cross. Darn. Missed that one too! The kids are busy with their stuff, Emma is coloring, Elise is playing with her Little People, we are standing and sitting and kneeling, and standing again. I am slowing getting the hang of the Catholic religion or so I thought. The Priest comes out and begins to speak. Again, the congregation replies where they should, crosses, stands and kneels. I decide to just be quiet and tend to the kids as they are now trying to talk to the people around them. I look up and then the Priest is gone. I lean over to Corey and ask where he went.
"He's doing a blessing."
Looking for the priest, I still can't see him, but I can hear him. Elise is catching some words too and starts to repeat them. The Priest says, "The Son".
So Elise replies quite loud, "THE SON? WHERE THE SON? THERE NO SON MOMMY!"
I look down and whisper in her ear, "SShhhh, we're listening."
"NO! I NOT LISTENING!"
I try and ignore her and look around again for the" missing" Priest, as I look up I see this white flash go by our pew and a huge branch of what looked like a pine tree, then a splash of water right in my eye!
"What the He....?"
"Corey, What was that?" He politely ignores me and I finally get it.
"Oh, that was the blessing, right?"
"YEESSSS!", Sounded almost like a hiss from a cat, I think he was annoyed with my questions....hmmmm
Next came communion, that I am familiar with, just not in the same fashion, we quietly sit and wait for this portion to be done. The girls getting more and more restless. Elise asking everyone around if we can go home yet. As the service comes to an end the girls are racing to get their stuff back into the bag, and their coats on, we shake hands with the people around us, getting smiles and blessings, Emma says, "Are we DONE yet?"
"Just about, shhh..."
Making our way out, I breathe a sigh of relief, we did really well, the girls were good, no screaming or crying and again God didn't make the earth shake, so He was happy we went. Herb has a look of pure joy on his face and was proud . A member of the church told him that he had a beautiful family, which made him beam even harder.
"Well, that was different," I said.
"No, that was great," said Herb, "Thank-you for coming. Church is church, no matter where you go."
I thought about that, and yes, he's right. As long as we have the freedom to worship, then church is church and as long as we can come together as children of God, without prejudice, church is church.
I am happy to have had the experience, sorry that I didn't know the actions or words to say, but I know in the end it doesn't matter. Knowing where to rest your feet, stand, cross, sit, and speak would have been useful......but...... What matters is knowing God is where ever you are. He doesn't have to be in a building but in your heart, mind and spirit.
I hope that my ignorance of the Catholic religion will not be taken as disrespect, just a little comic relief! God has a sense of humour too, that much I know is universal in all types of religion!