After taking my daughter and her friend to High School this morning, I then proceeded on to the Catholic Primary School that my son attends. When he was safely in school, I waited in the car park for about 20 minutes, reading my copy of ‘High Fidelity’…which, incidentally, is wholly innapropriate pre-Mass reading material, upon reflection…(but I am almost finished and I wanted to get a few more pages out of the way.)
So, Wonderboy’s school Mass is designated a time slot of 9:30-10:30. I go in to Church to pray at about 9:20, and I take my pew (not with me, silly)….after praying for a while, I’m alerted by my sons teacher that she would appreciate if I sit elsewhere as ‘my’ (ok, it’s not really mine) pew happens to be the only other one in the whole church that is needed to seat the children who are now pouring through the doors.
So, I say “Of course”, smile, and move to a pew at the back of the Church. BIG mistake.
I end up sitting behind a chap that I know a little, which is fine, we had a little chat in the narthex before Mass began and he’s friendly enough, which is finer still. I kneel to pray once again and try to compose myself and get ‘focussed’ and all that stuff that I usually do to get myself in the right frame of mind before Mass begins…well, when I got into this pew, I had seen a cushion placed at the very end of it. Presuming that it was for someone to sit on, a saved seat, so to speak…. I sat a few feet feet away from it. An elderly women then came and pushed the cushion along next to me, and sat the other side of the cushion, so we had a rather homely floral cushion between us. I thought it was hers, and then I wondered if she thought it was mine, and then I thought, ‘well perhaps that is a cushion for her friend or her husband’…blah…blah..blah…(you get the idea of how my mind works by now, don’t you ?)
See, this is how neurotic I am. And I can’t afford therapy.
Mass is taking a while to begin, the 200 children in the Church are getting restless, but the adults are even less well behaved (see, my poem from yesterday, below!)…and then another elderly women comes to the pew…she seems to know the lady on the end, she climbs over her and attempts to sit next to her..but finds the cushion in the spot she wants to sit in…so what does she do….she looks at me, then she pushes the cushion along the pew towards me…so far in fact, that I have to move quite a bit further along the pew to accomodate this cushion that seems to belong to no-one at all. And the lady doesn’t give up, she proceeds to nudge the cushion, and hence myself, further and further away from her.
Perhaps she thinks the cushion was mine, that I’m some weird cushion-hugger, or someone who hasn’t outgrown the ‘umbilical detachment thing’, or a tree hugger type or something….anyway, I accomodate her wishes and move even further away from her, as does the cushion.
Mass, by this point, has already begun. And I’m not a happy bunny. I don’t mind all that moving about if genuinely necessary, but it is distracting me from the purpose for which I am attending Mass, and that, I don’t much like. Since the seating issues now appear to be sorted, I begin to relax. And then the kids all start to sing and they do these animated movements, flinging their arms in each others faces, and then they start digging elbows in one anothers stomaches and kicking one another in the shins. Now, I’m all for kids, I have two of my own, but really, do they need to be squeezed up like sardines in a can when there are so many pews still vacant ?…and then I look over to the pew that I had originally knelt in, where I was moved from, and it’s empty! So I have endured the drama of the cushion for nothing!
Ok, I know this sounds petty, and I’m the first to admit, that I’m a little hormonal at the moment and I’m making huge issues out of tinsy winsy molehills… but bear with me…you weren’t there….it was all happy and clappy, and If I didn’t know that we were actually in a Catholic Church I would have thought we were, well, elsewhere…
So, we eventually get to the Liturgy of The Eucharist, my heart is pounding with anticipation….just about everything else has been hashed, please not this. And most of it goes by quite reverently, really…sort of.
But then, thrown off guard by the unfamiliarity of the charismatic exhuberance of the Mass thus far, and feeling a little disorientated (I attend a traditional Mass -though not TLM at my home parish) we began to pray the ‘Our Father’…now ordinarily, I clasp my hands together and close my eyes, but this was a version I hadn’t heard before, the keyboard and wind instruments and vocalists were leading us to sing it …and before I know it, the women the other side of the cushion was thrusting her hand out for me to hold .Ugh.
Well, I must have looked a prat, because for at least a couple of seconds I just stared at her hand and wondered what on earth she was doing. Then I looked around and everyone seemed to be doing the hand holding thing (And I thought people only did that in America). I thought about saying ‘no thanks, i don’t do that’, but reconsidered when she thrust it even more forcefully towards my , by then, clammy hand. And that just ruined it for me.
I had to sing the Our Father to a tune I didn’t know, with a musical accompaniement that I disliked, and I was holding the hand of someone who had shoved me so far along the pew that I was getting an inferiority complex…and then she came over all friendly-like and didn’t seem to want to release my hand until the… very… last… drawn… out… note… was played on the keyboard.
Ok. maybe it’s true, maybe I need some HRT.
The chappie in front, turned around at the end of Mass, and laughing awkwardly, shook his head and said, “There’s no way they’ll get away with that if they try it on a Sunday morning!”.
Thanks be to God, for that!
I hold overly enthusiastic teachers responsible for the whole hands in the air thing, the musical accompanienment and for encouraging the children (of which my child is one) to hold hands as they pray in the words of Jesus… but I hold myself personally responsible, for not moving so far away from my pew neighbour, that I was well out of (h)arms reach. I’ll know better next time.