Luxury Travel Blog + where the hell did this come from?

I Coulda been a Saint if I hadn't Been Presbyterian

(image by Amy White)

I was a serious kid. I preferred hanging around adults more than I did "people" my own age (although I had a lot of friends to hang out with, I was always more of an observer to the frivolity - certainly never the center of attention).

When we were in elementary school, my parents had my sister and I go to the neighborhood Presbyterian church for Sunday School. I don't remember anything about those classes except for some art work and a talk from the teacher one day about why we had to cut a certain child in our class some slack because he was retarded (no, he wasn't there when she was talking about him). What I really enjoyed (from age ten to twelve, when we moved to another area) was going to church afterward with the big people. Usually by myself, as my little sister would toddle off to our house nearby. I have no idea what compelled me to go - it must have been that it made me feel like the grown-up I already felt I was because, I'm sorry, this was a Presbyterian church there was little drama going on. There were few, if any, candles lit, no paintings of gentle or suffering Jesus, certainly no pretty smelling incense, and communion was only once a month -- and it was with grape juice and bits of white bread - not even any wine to titillate my old soul. So I didn't go for aesthetic reasons obviously (perhaps why I became an Episcopalian in my 30's [although now a lapsed one] they know how to prettify a church!).

I loved waiting in the foyer, where the library was located, when the adults began to arrive. The smell of old musty books mingling with the smell of coffee brewing downstairs, the chatter of the Church Ladies talking about all that needs to be done before the bazaar, and who is scheduled to visit Mrs. MacSo-an-So who was just moved into a nursing home. I could eavesdrop easily as I was completely invisible in my "just a kid" disguise.

Then I'd tip-toe into the sanctuary feeling at one with the quiet and somberness and take my pew. I would sit listening attentively to the minister - or at least looking attentive. I was glowing with pride one Sunday when the minister decided to read from the Sunday School newsletter, written by the students, and chose my "How to Make Elephant Soup" with all of its silly ingredients and directions, until one of the ladies behind me whispered to her friend, "You know, there really is a recipe for elephant soup." My pride popped -- I thought I had invented it completely out of the blue! I told you, I was a serious kid.

Once after church I went into the minister's office and went up to his secretary and said,

"Hi, I'd like to make an appointment with the Pastor, please."

My peripheral vision showed me that the minister had looked up from his work at his desk and was smiling. He was happy to meet with me too! His secretary was also smiling and asked what was it I'd like to talk about. I wish I could remember. Was it to ask if was going to hell for smoking cigarettes with my friends? For being in love with boys and wanting to kiss them? To discuss whether the early Church Fathers did indeed conspire to destroy the Gnostics? Or, why don't Presbyterians have nuns and monks? Perhaps. The secretary then asked me when I'd like to meet with him.

"How about Tuesday morning?" I said (must have been in the summer).

"Sorry, he's not available that day because he'll be at work." She replied apologetically.

"He works?" I exclaimed loudly with a very quizzical expression on my face. Both the secretary and the pastor laughed out loud.

The minister worked. I had imagined that he spent his days in his study full of books and pipe smoke (I don't know if he smoked a pipe, but I think all ministers should), reading the bible, researching and musing, and writing his weekly sermon, and, oh, visiting sick and housebound people every once in a while. I think that I was so shocked that the minister had a normal, workaday world job, and wrote his sermons and served the congregation on the side, that I never did make that appointment.

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I Coulda been a Saint if I hadn't Been Presbyterian + where the hell did this come from?