We went to church this morning for the first time since June. We haven't been to our church since quite possibly in March when Lawrence died. We just can't remember.
Just as our younger than me - more traditional than the Pope - Priest ended his first sentence with "Chapter 1", I looked at Jim and he mouthed to me... "every time"!
What he means is this. We are regular "seasonal" church goers. Our seats are vacant all summer, and while most often it takes a few weeks to get in the groove, we are fairly regular in fall and winter.
We always seem to "go back" the first Sunday in October. Of course we never put two and two together until we are in the pew. October is "childrens rights month" in our small town Catholic Church, and our Priest has a humdinger of a "program" (as he calls it) for each Sunday of the month.
Of course that means that we will hear all about our role as Catholics to avoid the evils of contraception and abortion, not to mention the evils of artificial ways of conception and non medically emergent surgeries to alter our abilities to bear children.
Today's sermon, Jim and I decided, was adlibbed when Father saw us enter his holy house, because it included the evil of preventing our children their privilege to "come to Jesus".
We felt the heat of the spotlight over our little corner of the pew. Father started off the discussion by thanking all of the GOOD parents for bringing their children to church every Sunday. Even when they are whiny, crabby or downright unruly (which BTW, he has no patience for unruly children). Then he proceeded to gently in not so much as so much a damnation with pointed finger and spooky wheredidthatcomefrom voice from the Heavens remind those of us who are not bringing our offspring to Jesus every weekend that we are denying our children the privilege of knowing Him.
I felt as though I was his only audience member.
Of course when it was time to take the Eucharist, it was as though the seas parted and I ended up right smack dab in front of the very man who just told me I was sinning and calling me practically by name. Why oh why couldn't that little old couple in front of me go straight instead of turn? I was so close to being off the hook!
Seriously, I am sure that Father did not intend to make me feel such a spectical. But he sure knew how to lay that Catholic guilt on thick this morning.
In order to avoid eye contact with our young, uber traditional Priest, I found myself perusing the perishoners ahead of me. Taking note of how small todays crowd was I was particualarly aware of the large number of blue haired women sans their partners. It is not surprising. The widows out number widowers, and vastly out number the couples of advanced age in our community. It goes without saying that rows six and seven on either side are mostly considered "widows row". Many are friends by circumstance - traditionally not friends before their loss.
When we went to brunch at my friend Jeanne's coffee house, many of them were dining at the large table next to us. Two of them very new to their new way of life.
It was sad and comforting all the same. I am glad they have each other. I am sad they have suffered such great pain. I hope when I am their age, I will be one of the few that out rank those who have lost their spouse. If I am not that lucky, I hope I have the same network of support.
So how does spooky strangers tie into all of this? It doesn't. But I beg you to heed this warning...
If you are home alone. If your spouse is away for the night and you are easily frightened by the slightest of sounds (or not), DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT! Watch."The Strangers". ALONE. AT ALL. DO NOT DO IT. Step away from the TV, find something on Disney to watch and believe me when I say, DO NOT DO IT!
If you decide I am over exaggerating, if you think I spook easily, or if you are tempted by my threats to see what I am talking about, well, remember this...
DO NOT DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!