In keeping up with my New Years Resolution to attend Mass on a weekly basis I packed up the Mini & Middle Monkeys this morning and headed off to Saint Sister of So and So.
For the second week in a row, I arrived at the church late. For the second week in a row I hustled my Monkeys in the side door and ducked in during the first reading. And...for the second week in a row I walked up to a compainionless congregant seated at the end of an otherwise empty pew and tried to quietly make my entrance.
Instead of simply stepping out of the pew for and letting me & the Monkeys get by or simply allowing us to crawl over and reach the vast open space in the middle, the solitary soul instead chose to look at me with great disdain and slide six inches further into the pew.
The first week as I attempted to situate the Monkeys and my self into the single square foot that was allotted for us I tried not to let anger into my heart. As I sat, practically shoulder to shoulder with this stranger who did not seem to understand the social norms of personal space I tried not to think ill of him. Instead, I did what any good, God-fearing mother would do, I sat a Monkey right next to him, practically on his lap, figuring that he would eventually take the hint and venture into the thirty feet of OPEN PEW to his right but alas, this guy did not budge. In fact, were it not for his absolute refusal to look at us, make eye contact or even offer the "sign of peace" to us, you may have mistaken us for a family.
And so I prayed for forgiveness for the better part of the Mass. I asked for forgiveness for HATING this snobby prick who seemed to be socially retarded. At the end I watched him pull out of the church parking lot in his snotty navy Benz and cut me off, one final "eff you." He was a super nice Church guy.
Today, I had high hopes. I tried arrive on schedule but lets just be honest, without the prompting of the Monkey Maker, who was at work, that was never going to happen.
I entered the church via the same side door and scanned the pews for any open spaces. Even though the building was far from full, there were no openings anywhere. And so it was that I approached my second single worshipper, a woman, seated on the end of yet another empty pew. I paused in the aisle and smiled at her. She looked at me as if I had asked her to hand me her bra. She blinked a few times and then edged over 7 millimeters. You couldn't fit a slice of square cheese in the space she left so I just plowed over her.
Tough beans. I clambered over her and her stupid, sensible churchy shoes and settled the Monkeys into the open space in the middle. We removed our coats and spread ourselves out. My heart was pounding and I was shaking with anger at the second smug churchgoer encounter in as many weeks.
I tried to offer it up and release my anger. After all, that wasn't what church was about, right? It was about thankfulness and forgiveness and...Did that guy just say "Perfection?!?!?!"
"All God asks of us is to be...perfect." The twenty-something super wholesome, multi-grain Deacon was saying. WHAT?!?!?
I tried to take it in, the message, the meaning, the moral - but it just didn't land. Not here, not on this crazy lady who is just barely making it with "good enough."
I took a deep breath and tried to remember why I came here.
On the way Mini-Monkey had asked me why we were going to church. It was a valid question, one that I have asked myself many times over the years. My official "Mommy" answer was that we wanted to say thank you to God for all the blessings of our life. The real and true reason is that the rites and rituals of the Roman Catholic faith represent stability and routine. I wanted my children to experience the love and acceptance that comes from being part of a church community, but right now, I am not really feeling it.
Back in the pew I was just finally starting to relax. My fists were unclenching and I was ready to engage in the Mass when Mini-Monkey said to me, "Mommy, I have to go potty."
Of course you do.
There was no easy way out. I was going to have to climb over Churchy McSaveherspace to get my Monkey to the bathroom, and then come back again??? I think not.
We bailed on church today and I don't even feel bad.
"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself." ~Anna Quindlen