I grew up in St. Luke’s Episcopal church in Hot Springs, AR. My parents even got married there back in the 40’s. I have so many astonishingly crisp memories of St. Lukes, with my family, before they all died. So, for me it is a scared place.
Once, when I was in the choir I had to go to the bath room, so I got up the courage to genuflect and walk past the alter in front of the entire congregation so I could pee. When I returned I did the same thing, only this time I bowed in front of Christ and the alter. A wave of snickering rolled through the church. Apparently I’d tucked the back of my choir robe and dress into my panty hose. I mooned the whole church at eight.
I kissed my first boy on the St. Luke’s play ground.
One Christmas eve my parents got in a fight DURING MIDNIGHT MASS, my dad stormed out and walked 9 miles home.
One year my mom was in charge of hiding all the Easter eggs in the park. They’d just cut the grass so mom sadly hid them all in poison ivy. The next year she forgot to boil two dozen eggs before coloring them. They took her off Easter egg duty.
When I was little I thought I could gauge God’s mood and his feelings towards me and the church by looking at the shadows on the painting of Jesus above the alter.
I remember my brother Jack (he died when he was 23 or so) pushing me so high on the old St. Luke’s swing set I though I would fly out and sail across the city.
But, like a moron, I got mad at St. Luke’s a few years ago. I think it was because our old priest, Father Larry, never told me he liked what I’d written about St. Luke’s in my novel Invisible Branches. I wrote beautiful sweet stuff about the church but he never said a word. And it was a hell of a book (even though there were stupid typos) Boy did that priest piss me off and hurt my feelings. So…I took it out on my family and myself and I guess blamed the whole church.
Yeah, what an idiot.
But we went back yesterday. As the choir marched in (Episcopalians love a good parade) with the organ and flute, brass and timpani my heart soared and I started crying. Sandor sang and nearly choked on communion wine. I fussed at the kids for playing thumb wars during the sermon. People waved at us as though we hadn’t missed a Sunday. It was perfect and blessed and healing. That’s what happens when a moron gives up an old grudge and forgiveness arrives like a Christmas present. Even if it took years and years.
There’s just something about Easter.