Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to People You Don't Know

This should be the last of my substandard weekend entries. Tomorrow night I'll have Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot to inspire me.


Today was my friend Kevin's birthday. Another friend from church, Jan, has hers in a few days. This morning when I picked up Kevin for church, I handed him his birthday present, an insanely inexpensive, name brand DVD player that can play almost any video format. I had him take it up to his apartment so that we would'nt have to look after it during church; and between that and washing my hair, I was later than usual arriving, with the result that Proscovia had already gotten someone to fill in for me as crucifer. So I got to sit with the congregation instead of in the sanctuary, for the second week in a row.

One of the parishioners, Angela, preached for the first time today. Turns out she is in the "discernment period" that precedes being accepted into a seminary to prepare for ministry. One of the priests at St. Michael and All Angels is also named Angela, which gave rise to a joke that today it was the church of St. Michael and the Two Angelas. Well, I thought it was funny. Angela preached about the parable of the lost sheep and the parish's newcomer ministry, which Angela spearheaded. She mentioned the variety of reasons why people stop going to church, and why they sometimes audition other churches as a possibly spiritual home, often years and years later. Some of what she said resonated rather strongly with me. I went through that journey myself, an estranged Catholic who walked into the local Episcopal church for the first time about a decade ago. There was no newcomer ministry back then, but Father Smith and a parishioner named Suzanne both introduced themselves to me and took an interest. And yes, it made a difference.

In the course of her sermon, Angela mentioned an incident in a sitcom in which the lead character recounts having gone for confirmation into a church, only to be left sitting in the pew, her name not having been called along with the others. It reminded me of an incident at a day camp I attended when I was about 11 years old. I was in the intermediate level swimming class that summer, at this horrible camp where other kids teased me horribly, and socially inept, thin-skinned young Karen failed to do anything about it but suffer. On the last day, the counselors handed out the swimming certificates, but I didn't get one. I don't know whether I was the only one left out, or whether there are other kid who had failed to pass the courses. I asked afterward, and the counselor said something about my possibly not having passed. She didn't check on it, or give me a definitive answer as to whether I had truly failed the certification, and if so, why. All these years later, I don't know whether being passed over that day was due to a weak scissors kick, someone's mistake, or discrimination because I was fat. It doesn't matter now, if it ever did, and I go for years which thinking about that campt and that day. But it would be nice to know what really happened.


After church there was a coffee hour in the sunken courtyard for newcomers and parishioners together, and afterward I took Kevin and Jan to lunch at a place called Baja Lobster. Before we made our getaway, however, Father Smith led everyone in a chorus of Happy Birthday to You, much to Kevin 's embarrassment. Next week I fully expect someone to ask me about "your husband's birthday." Although I tell people otherwise as often as the subject is mentioned, the parish seems to have an infinite supply of people who think Kevin is my husband. Grr. I like Kevin a lot, but he is not remotely my type. (Just for starters, he's gay.) But since John is a) and atheist and b) someone antisocial, hardly anyone from St. Michael's has ever even met him. So how would they know that the guy I go to church with is just a friend?


Baja Lobster had good, rather unusual food, and great service. Being seafood, it's expensive, but it's worth the occasional visit. we had a good time talking about jury duty and four versions of Macbeth (including the Verdi opera and a Japanese adaptation in Kabuki makeup), and why Madame Butterfly was annoying. Then I dropped my friend off and went home.

The rest of the day I've mostly been reading a John Peel novel about the Eighth Doctor and the Daleks, but I also finished editing Chapter 27 and went on to 28 (again). My stopping point tonight was that scene I started writing in the restaurant yesterday. so far I've typed up two paragraphs of the revised version.

And my stopping point on this rambling blog entry is this very paragraph. Good night!


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