When my Mother married my Dad, she was a Southern Baptist and he was a Roman Catholic. So she picked being a Methodist as the common ground. Wow, now that is faulty logic at it's highest, but we are definately not here to discuss religiosity or doctrine or dogma. Her real reason is because the Methodist church was within walking distance of our house. Church was a very big part of my Mother's growing up. The social part of it. After having worked in churches for 20 something years myself, I understand that the draw of most churches are the extra social activities, not the hafta go be redirected sermon part of the church. Although ....nah I'll leave my religion snark for another time.
So my family spent every Sunday morning at church. The church was the biggest building I had ever been in. 3 stories high to the wood paneled vaulted ceiling. There was a balcony at the back, a huge choir loft. Side seating, so the church had a cross shape to the building from an aerial view. This church was very cathedral like and strange for a Methodist church. Stained glass windows 22 of them biblical tabloids, saints etc, 34 hanging pendant lamps with gold crosses as the holders, 9 rows in the choir loft, 60 something pipe heads showing for the organ, 14 rows of pews on the side seating. Well what else are ya gonna do when you are little while some old man is droning on and on?
I thought I remembered my Mother threatening me almost every Sunday as we sat in church and counted everything in sight (remember I am 4 or 5 at the time). Pinching the back of my arm, saying in a very low, close to my face, "I am going to have to spank you when we get home if you don't stop talking and moving around".
So now let's advance time to 30 something years later and I am in my brothers home and we are visiting and recounting the good old days. I was telling him about this kid at the church where I worked as youth minister who was always in trouble during worship service. He laughed and said he remembered my getting in trouble with Mother and asked why I was working in the church after all the times I had to be "taken" out of service? I asked him how he knew since I didn't have any recollection of his even being in service. I remember him going to Sunday School and then walking home with us. By this time he is grinning that grin.
Well, seems as though he hated the preacher's droning more than I did and would tickle or pinch me so that he could get me all worked up and then have to take me outside. What? Where did that come from? You mean I am not the one who should have gotten all those close quarter talks and some swats for being a brat in church? Nah, and Mother never pinched me either. Rotten brat. He said he wouldn't aplogize for doing it or getting me in trouble but hoped all his grandkids were just as rotten to pay his own kids back. What a knuckle head.
Then he asked me if I remembered the Holy Toast. I hadn't thought of that in years. Under each of the main focal stained glass windows was a smaller depiction of one thing or another. The sheep with a cross, the dove, the crown of thorns etc. Well under St. Andrew was the 10 commandment tablets, but from where I was sitting (as a child and that far away) it looked like a piece of bread. So one Sunday during communion, while I was waiting in the pew for my Mother to return from the trip down the long aisle to the center communion rail, I started talking with this old lady who couldn't make it to the front and of course got in trouble with my Mother when she got back because I guess I wasn't talking quietly. The old lady was entertaining me by talking about the stained glass windows and telling me something about each one. When we came to St. Andrew I explained to her that he was standing on the Holy Toast. "You know, the one that is with that father and his son when we pray"? The father, the son and the holy toast.
After church service, going out the door the minister would always say his goodbyes and do his well wishing. He bent down, with a smile and thanked me for his next sermon title. Because that is how Methodist ministers are. Three points and a chinese proverb is what a seminary friend used to tell me was all that was required for a sermon.
I am remembering my brother with this and the last post. He fought melanoma for 13 years and lost his battle 9 years ago this month. He and his doctors in Denver were hard core against this terrible beast cancer. At his memorial service, his doctor said he had never met a more committed man who fought the enemy in this war with such verocity and passion.
Yep, stubborn til the last breath.