Sunday, September 03, 2006

Field Trip

I bet you can’t guess where I was at 7:30 this morning.

I went to church.

I hadn’t been inside a church except for weddings or funerals in probably 15 or more years. My grandmother was widowed in January and has been going to an Episcopal church because my grandfather was Episcopalian. My mother usually goes with her but she’s out of town so I said I’d go in her place. I could tell my grandmother was really happy I offered because she didn’t even try to protest or say “You really don’t have to.” Then she tested her ground and told me she wanted to attend the earliest service. So while the streets were still deserted (everyone home sleeping off their Razorback hangover) we went to church.

I wasn’t raised religious and have only in the past year or so started to think about having a spiritual life. I’ve been to Episcopalian services before so I knew to expect lots of kneeling and ritual, but I was curious and happy to do something with and for my grandmother.


The church itself is a beautiful building. The main hall is all dark creaky wood and stained glass, so it felt very European. I spaced out and pretended we were wayward travelers who happened across this quaint chalet somewhere in the Alps. Then the standing and kneeling started so I had to start paying closer attention. The service itself was relatively short and, surprisingly, interesting. The rector had a voice like Garrison Keillor’s and I could tell he knew how to spin a good yarn. He talked about inclusive spirituality that includes all religions. He mentioned the mid-term elections and the importance of politicians being religious in the sense of taking care of the weakest in our society with a sly undertone that let us know he disapproved of our current leadership. That delighted me. Like Garrison Keillor he had a way of settling on a word just long enough to draw out all the meanings.

The most difficult ritual for me to understand in both the Anglican and Catholic churches is transubstantiation. But I did go up and take communion with my grandmother. I don’t know....a little wafer and a sip of wine? Body and blood? And you’re supposed to believe it literally? But whatever...does that make me a traitor of some sort? Because I took communion but think it’s bullshit?

I won't regularly attend services. I love my own Sunday rituals of complicated coffee and This American Life and the paper too much. But I’d certainly be the church pinch hitter again.

3 comments:

George said...

Alannah,

So far so good on the blog, an interesting read on a slow work day.

A couple of points regarding your thought on communion:

I believe the Roman Catholic church and the Anglican/Episcopalian church hold slightly different views on what happens during the mass. The catholic believes in transubstantiation, which is the physical transformation of the bread and wine into the physical body and blood of jesus. They believe that jesus is present physically. Anglicans believe in consubstantiation. The Anglican/Episcopalian believes that the spiritual presense of jesus coexists with the physical bread and wine. So you lucked out on Sunday...no sin. you can rest now...you're welcome..

I've been perplexed by the same thing since i was a kid growing up the the catholic church. The church really emphasizes the physicalness of the change, yet you can't detect it with your senses, which usually SEEM pretty good at detecting physical change in other objects; however, if someone can actually make the leap of faith that the Son of God took human form, a product of a virgin birth, walked the earth, performed various miracles, died, physically rose from the dead, walked the earth for 40 days, then wholly ascend into heaven...transubstantiation doesn't seem to be a quite a stretch at that point...at least to me anyway...

i apologize for the over use of the ellipsis...bad habit...

Alannah said...

Thank you, George, for the illuminating comments. Overuse of ellipses are always welcome....I'm fond of them myself.

Jude said...

I had to look up ellipses.Come to find out I over use them too.
I find they are true to the style of conversations I have so I find them very useful in keeping my writing in line with my verbal ways of communicating...I need them. I just didn't know they had a name. I love words but I have little education to back mine up.
Write to me, Alannah!