Sunday, March 10, 2002

"Have you ever seen a black person?"

This is a kind of church filled entry... Feel free to skip it, except you will mis a rich opportunity to laugh at me in the first part of this entry.

Today in church, we had another guest rector. A South African who is assistant pastor in a northern suburb of Boston. He brought his two grandsons, who were immediately embraced and well liked by all the kids. They were in fifth and third grade. Very fun morning.

When the pastor did the children's sermon, he invited up all the kids to sit by his feet. His back was to me, and I could have sworn on a stack of any print publication in that building at that time that he asked spryly and gingerly "Have you ever seen a black person before?" as the opening question to his remarks.


What! Did I just hear that? No, I didn't. I couldn't have. One of the kids said "Yes, I saw one on the street once."

Oh please. Tell me I'm not hearing this. The rector then asked, "What do black people do all day?"

"They beg for money sometimes with a cup," answered one child.

Oh my Lord. No.

"They walk with a cane and sometimes have a guide dog."


Okay, now I know I didn't hear black person. It was BLIND person.

Oh my God. I'm such an idiot. I was so relieved that the line of questioning wasn't exposing how culturally insensitive our congregation is, but instead exposed the fact that I am culturally biased, had a certain anticipation for what was going to come out of his mouth, and I need a friggin' hearing aid. Now. All this combined with his accent caused me to make a big mental hiccup.

I'm a jackass.

It was a very good service. The pastor was very pleased to hear of our friendship with Jen and Alan in Durban, RSA, and he was an enthusiastic pastor with a kind heart. Overall, the best substitute pastor we've had.

His time spent at communion was slow and serious, very caring and humble. Our last pastor rifled through communion like it was a race, the long prayer at the beginning "In the night in which he was betrayed he took the cup saying..." was a jumble of words that no one could follow. Combined with a heavy Australian accent, if you weren't reading along, you may as well just file your nails and not bother.

This pastor had an equally thick accent, as evidenced by my mishap in hearing above, but he spoke with a slow gait, and knelt down and did all sorts of things that made you just want to watch as he went through the process. He holds the act of celebrating communion very seriously... It was lovely. I am glad he was with us.

The organ concert last night was very well attended. Packed house, with childcare next door in the church hall so parents could enjoy the service. The organist and his wife were the stars... and let me tell you, that woman can sing. Amazing. High C on Bach's "Alleluia" at the end. She cracked me up though. She came out when it was time to do her first solo in this gorgeous purple velvet dress (which she purchased for 20 bucks at the local salvage/seconds store "Building 19") and had on shiny white satin gloves that went all the way up her arms, and this huge black velvet hat.

The hat alone made me almost lose it. I'm sitting RIGHT next to her and I'm smirking hard the whole time because the smirk could at any point turn into an absolute laugh.

But, she blew me away with her solo, and she was just gracious and amazing.

I got home at 10pm. Exhausted. Crashed. Woke up at 4am to an amazing rainstorm with crashing wind and howling bansidhe like voices whipping through the hemlocks in the back yard. I got up and went to the bathroom, woke Geoff up so he could also go to the bathroom (I try to do that once a night, usually way before 4am, just so he doesn't have an accident)... and then I lounged in bed looking out my window at the branches whipping at the streetlights and sky. I'm really tired from lack of sleep, but have a lot to do. I have to finish the website I started last weekend, and the one I'm doing for free... I'm amazed that neither person has called yelling at me yet.

We took all the books from the church basement and Doug is taking them to a bookstore where he does business in trade to get them cashed in, then we'll put that in next week's collection. Our coffeepot pooped out royally this morning, so I see a trip to WalMart on our agenda this afternoon.

I got email from our friend Smitty today announcing the demise of his cat Ted, who was 17. So I thought I'd give special notice here .... Ted was a good cat. I met him a few times. Orange tabby. God rest ye, merry tabby... godspeed.


Yesterday morning Doug purchased my plane ticket for my return trip from Florida. Normally we would use Manchester Airport and fly Southwest, but, the least expensive fare we could get for either that Monday or Tuesday (March 25 or 26) was 168 bucks. One way. Doug did some digging and found AirTran had an 80 dollar ticket on Tuesday at noon, getting me into Logan. So he'll have to fight traffic to come down and get me for that day... we hate Logan and patently refuse to go there, but for 50% less the hassle can be tolerated. Perhaps we'll go out to dinner right after.

So My Sister better not change her mind about leaving (shaking my fist at her and glowering, mmmmmm!) I ain't letting her alter the plan.

Florida, HO!

In a final note, the other day Tess wrote an entry about how a co-worker of hers gave her snide comments about wearing crosses when she "doesn't believe." She had to defend herself and her beliefs, and thought it was kind of bullshit to have to do so. I thought the entry was very moving, and felt the need to drive up there (to Alaska!) to set Tess' homeslice coworker straight on a few issues.

I love Tess, I've gotten to know her pretty well through email and her open and honest entries. She's not a card carrying member of a local church. She believes in God, but has reservations about organized religion. She lives with her boyfriend and takes a lot of shit from family because she's not married... she plays the role of stepmom to her manfriend's young son, and does a good job of it.

She works hard every day putting up with all kinds of bureaucratic crap from a company that she doesn't necessarily like anymore.

So this coworker of hers decides to pull a holier than thou nose crinkle at her for wearing crosses. Called her a hypocrite.

Uh, way to witness, stupid lady.

See, instead of giving Tess a load of crap about what a hypocrite she thought she was for wearing crosses, it could have been an opportunity for her to ASK what Tess' beliefs are and LEARN something from her about what her thoughts and feelings are. Perhaps SHARE the gospel and her own experience in a kind hearted and open way.

She's comfortable being agnostic. Agnostic and Atheist are NOT the same thing. Why can't people figure that out?

Laying some sort of "isn't it ironic that you wear crosses..." thing on Tess isn't the truly righteous thing to do. Live and let live baby. If someone digs the look and concept of a symbol, let them. Perhaps they'll some day love the symbol for the same reason you do. Why not take the opportunity to talk instead of guilt.

Get off the high horse folks and just be nice. Fer chrissake. I'm going to get off on a rant here.

I have a Celtic cross that Doug bought me for Christmas a few years ago. I don't wear a lot of jewelry, but I love to wear this. I especially love to wear it in church in my choir robe.

In some schools of thought it is technically a "Pagan" cross. The early church in Ireland tried to incorporate some of the earth religions into the stylings of the cross to make people more comfortable as they at the same time made strides to squash their culture and their pagan beliefs.

The three rings in the center don't symbolize the Father, Son and Holy Spirit the way some people think they do. They symbolize the goddess and earth and sky. The four branches of the cross are for the north, south, east and west. The traditions of the native Celts eventually faded and came to mean something different to people as time went by. In recent years, many people have researched the roots of the cross in Ireland, and discovered the meanings behind the unique styling of the symbol.

Many evangelicals today find these definitions of Celtic stylings offensive. I say screw. I think the Celtic cross is ornate, lovely, and a piece of my heritage... my earliest family were probably pagans on the emerald isle way back in the when, way back before William of Hastings, Hadrian, St. Patrick and others. It is a blend of the people who brought me to this point, and the current beliefs that I hold dear.

So I love to wear this cross. It's symbolism doesn't make me a pagan. It just makes me a modern person willing to recognize and love my history. I've had this discussion with evangelicals in the past, and get that wrinkled nose kind of thing from them. So Tess, suffice to say that even "inside the fold" there are those who feel the need to belittle others rather than learn a thing or two.

I hope this entry hasn't sucked too badly for you.

It's the Saint Patrick's day parade in a lot of towns around the area... most towns can't compete with the attention brought to the big city parades. As a woman descended from the ancient Celts, I'm not necessarily participating. I have a boy to watch and a coffeemaker to buy. And playdough to clean out of the crevasses in my cross (I just noticed, while contemplating it, there is yellow playdough encrusted into some of the serpentine design). I have no idea what my schedule is for next week yet, except that Wednesday I'm going to take a day free to take the kids to the doctor and do some other errands. So this is it for me on my weekend.

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