Wednesday, April 27, 2011

churchy stuff

I went to church today, it was a Catholic church but unfortunately it was for a funeral. Haven't been inside a church too much lately, unless it's for a wedding, baptism or funeral. I'd been somewhat turned off by religion after high school, and now looking back I'm not so sure it was the religion itself, but more so the fact that I had been in Catholic school since age 3 thru 17 and then having a weekly mass on top of that seemed like overkill. The only part of the mass that I'd pay any attention to (aside from ogling one or two altar boys) was the Homily. The rest of the mass was dull because it was the same structure of readings from the bible, then the hymns were soooo slow and dragged on forever and then the rites and rituals always made me question, why do we have to see this again every week? But I liked the Homily (depending on the priest, some were too preachy) because it was real, not read, and conversational. I also looked forward to giving the sign of peace because that meant church was almost over and the energy was always different since you sat next to new people every week. Sometimes my parents would go to the early mass which left me and my sister having to go to the 11:00 mass alone. My sister would drive us (she's 7 years older so imagine a 16 year old and a 9 year old in this scenario) and we'd be dressed in church clothes and leave the house on time and then we'd pull up to the church, she'd wait in the car, I'd hop out, run up the steps and grab a bulletin from the back table and run back in her car and off we'd go to Dunkin' Donuts. Or if it was warm we'd go to the beach for an hour. We did this off and on, not every time because we would see our parent's friends and then get busted so then we'd have to come in. For a few years this went on until one day during mass with our parents, the priest ended the mass stating that it had been brought to his attention that there have been "bulletin grabbers" aka me and my sister and several other high school aged kids, and they would no longer leave the bulletins in the back of the church. Instead, they would be handed out at the end of mass by a clergy man or woman. My sister's eyes almost popped out of her head as did mine. And I could have sworn the priest was looking right at us when he spoke.

At the church today I found something very interesting. In the pew pockets they had little sheets of paper titled "Pew Art" with pencils as well. On the paper was a message to parents to allow their young children to use this paper to doodle or draw. I thought, how awesome is this?? If we had this growing up I probably would have enjoyed the experience a bit more too. (I also wanted to add a letter "F" to the word "Art".) Back in the day, my sister and I purposely learned sign language (the alphabet and a few other choice phrases) so we could secretly sign dirty words to try and make each other laugh. And something else I remembered today while kneeling in church -when I was little I would make sure I had nail polish on before mass so I could pick it all off (it took about 2 minutes a nail so that killed about twenty minutes) but some of it would sprinkle down on the pew in front of me and so many times the unsuspecting people sitting down had sparkly pink flecks stuck to their rears. My sister and I used to get a kick outta that too. Actually so did my Dad.

I do remember insane laughing fits that we couldn't control because we heard a squeaky shoe or something that sounded like a fart, that probably wasn't or maybe it was, or the token weird people we'd see every week that we had ridiculously nicknamed. There was a guy who looked just like this guy:

That's Chef Barth from the show You can't do that on Television and my sister and I were always on the lookout for Barth sightings at church. When we spotted him we were so excited cause we knew we were in for a treat. He had a few nervous habits, like smoothing the top of his hair but he would do it so suddenly and jerky and we would keep count how many times he did it and then sign language updates. God, if we only had text messaging back then!

And there were ALWAYS those people...large, rotund women mostly, who thought they were opera singers and would BELT OUT THE WORDS to every song and usually, their voices made my head bobble. When one of them sat behind us we would get the worst fits of giggles to the point where we'd have to hide our heads in our hands and make it look like we were deep in prayer as our bodies shook and popped. I remember car rides home where my mom would say, "I can't take you to church anymore, you have serious problems." And I'd be soooo excited because I thought, "Finally I'm free!" But it was always a forgotten statement by the following Sunday. Our church had a sound proof Crying Room for babies and small children and I often thought why not make a laughing room for out of control kids and teens? Probably because it would be packed. With adults too.

So anyway, today's church experience sparked a multitude of memories, so many more still swirling in my head but I'm tired, it's been an emotional day and I think it's time to pray for forgiveness and go to bed.


ChiTown Girl said...

Oh, my holy hell, you just gave me an awesome ride in some kind of freaky time machine! You brought back so many goofy memories about our own church experiences. Thanks for sharing this.

I'm sorry for whatever loss you experienced that had you going to church, though.

Smileygirl said...

Aww thanks sweet thing. Aren't church stories the best? I love recalling some if those silly memories. Glad you could relate! Xoxo

karen gerstenberger said...

I don't know how I missed these two postings. How are you doing with your cleanse? It sounds difficult, but worth it.

Loved the church stories! We were just talking about kids and church issues yesterday, and Kim reminded Gregg (who I think has blocked out any and all church memories from childhood) that their Lutheran confirmation classes lasted for 3 years! They had to attend Sunday School, church services AND a week-night confirmation class. I told him that was enough to drive out practically anyone - even someone who loved God and church, let alone someone who didn't. Why can't they make it fun and a little easier on kids?

Lisa said...

One of my coworkers told me that when she was a teenager, her mom would trust her to go to Mass on Ash Wednesdays with her friends. They would sneak out behind the utility building to smoke cigarettes, then smudge the ashes on their own foreheads.