Wednesday, May 27, 2009
jared and i attended church (this was the first time as a couple). i am conflicted on many levels about the whole world of church, but that's a subject for another blog entry. at the first reformed church of pompton plains, nj, the church of choice for my late grandmother, we joined my father and stepmother for the memorial day service. we were also there to meet with the pastor -- a woman, with hippie and Buddhist tendencies-- who we've asked to officiate our wedding. getting married brings up lots of life questions, and though jared and i are open, spiritual people the question of who could marry us was a bit of an enigma.
i met pastor kathleen the day of my grandmother's funeral; it was a sad day. i am inclined to be a crier, have been since i was a child, so this day was sure to be a doozey. here i sat with my father, my uncles and their wives. i felt like i got asked to the adult table for the first time and i wasn't going to screw it up. but then again we are talking about death and dealing with it, and let's face it all my fears and insecurities are rooted in the fact that one day all the people in the room, whom i love dearly, are going to pass on and usually just thinking of that mere possibility sends me into hyperventilation-mode. anyway, pastor kathleen was calm, cool and collected -- much unlike myself, but she definitely helped to calm me down.
she went through the motions of setting up and personalizing grandma's funeral service and then when we were all left with an unsettling silence/sobbing, she went on to explain death in the most simple and eloquent way ever. it was clearly (to me) a Buddhists perspective which explained a constant pulsation of painless perfection that is in all of us, that gets littered by the weight of the world to the point that we feel pain and suffering. and death, she explained was an ultimate letting go of that baggage, that pain and suffering.
i was impressed. my experiences of people who are christian are usually contained and textbook, that is, they would not be able to hold such a perspective and call themselves a christian let alone be a pastor. it was refreshing and encouraging to someone who never had any example of someone that could hold such beliefs at the same time. so it was a natural choice to ask her to perform our ceremony, and as an added bonus, it will honor my grandmother who would have been tickled pink that we are getting married there.
back to the service. it was full of olds. not even the type of olds i work with, but older olds. the ones who during the memorial day slide show practically stood up and saluted the flag. i have to say, it was moving -- but definitely not the type of folks i could see stepping outside of a sort of white evangelical christian perspective. there was a lot of talk of freedom coming at a price but overall i thought it was fairly restrained, suburban and conservative. i began to question if i totally misread the pastor. after the service we went up to talk to her, and then my mind was put to ease. she explained that though she was anti-war, the congregation was very old school.
upon leaving, she told us to check out her silent protest out in front on the church lawn. out in front there were about 50 flags stuck in the ground. they had signs on them with names of boys, their ages and hometowns. they represented all the boys (and i say boys bc the average age was 22) that lost their lives fighting for our country over the past few years in Afghanistan and Iraq. it was heartbreaking. we have to choose our battles, but we also have to remember the mistakes of our past. it brought a new meaning to memorial day for me.