Once upon a time I was a Mystery Worshiper.
Did you ever run across one of those? I auditioned and got approved for the gig through the Ship of Fools website. It was a lot of fun, but I quit because I was just using it as an excuse for snarking. I'm not saying snarking is bad. After all, sarcasm is my spiritual gift. But when that's all you're doing, you're not really being fair.
God knows I don't need that kind of karma. So, I quit.
Today I was sort of back at it again, just for grins. There was no mystery to it this time, but I attended another church in another town and it made a great excuse to have lunch with the kid.
For those of you keeping score at home, the kid is doing well in nursing school, working at a hospital part-time and making a mint teaching pitching lessons and clinics on the side. She is so busy, just listening to her makes me tired. Things are not perfect, but she's tapped into an extraordinary level of self-sufficiency which leaves me a bit breathless. And proud. Mostly proud.
Before all that though, there was church. It was enjoyable to see a different group doing the same things differently. This was only the forth Episcopal church I've ever visited. (When I was Mystery Worshiping, I confined my choices to places I knew I'd hate. Didn't ever go to an Episcopal service.)
Y'all know about my addiction to Gothic arches and such. Unfortunately, this building was more New Mexico than New England, but it had it's charms. The audio speakers attached to the ceiling reminded me of every West Texas Baptist church I've ever been in. There readings were faintly dramatic and there was that one completely unexpected soprano in the choir.
Lord, they had a lot of people in white robes. Wonder if they get a discount for buying in bulk?
There were lots of robe-wearers to help serve communion. One of my oddly favorite things about the Episcopal Eucharist has been the communion wafer. It's weird, I know, but I find them cool. This church used bread instead of wafers.
Damn, it was good bread. Brown and sweet and super moist.
The progressive Baptist churches I've attended in the past have used similar bread, probably as a reaction to the Jeezus Chiclets we grew up on. You know what I mean - those tiny, half-inch squares of crunchy dough that you get along with the thimble of Welch's Grape Juice. It was like we believed that there was only so much Jesus to go around, and you only got a tiny piece of him so we wouldn't run out. Because we knew that story about the loaves and the fishes and the five thousand but none of us really believed it. We believed the basic story, but not that part about how no one went away hungry. Everyone got a little bit, sure, but a little bit would have to do ya. Right?
Anyway, the bread was good, but I like the wafers best. Besides, we've already discussed (Haven't we? Maybe we haven't.) that I am a huge fan of port and I'd really like to be last in line to finish that stuff off, or at least go back around and go through the line a second time. With bread that good, it would be that much more of a temptation.
And of course, you can't get through a service without Passing the Peace.
Earlier in the week, Lois posted a link to an article about this and asked my opinion, as someone who has long lamented the practice.
My opinion? I still don't like it. I'm an introvert and anything touchy-feely makes me itch. I'd just as soon not do it, thankyouverymuch. However, I do admit that I like official peace-passing much better than the less structured meet-n-greet. In the Episcopal church I only have to touch your hand and say one word. I can do that. I don't love it, but I can do it.
This church is larger than the tiny one I attend. All that peace passing takes a while, even when everyone is only saying one word, three at most. I did my bit with the folks around me then just sort of stood back and watched the people travel back and forth through the aisle, greeting their fellows.
The priest made her way through the crowd pretty quickly, offering peace to each person in turn. I'd said my one word to all but the nice woman sitting next to me. She'd introduced herself and asked what I did for a living.
I told her I was an adult probation officer, forgetting my pact with Mindy that this question is always best answered with "I'm a florist." The woman seemed surprised and interested and was questioning me further about law enforcement when the priest reached her side. The priest offered her one word of peace, then stepped towards me, grasping my hand warmly. She leaned in just a bit and said,
"You left your pot in my car."