Ask Poops, Please

Putting my two cents in.

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Location: Belmont, New Hampshire, United States

Born and bred in a small New England town, I am convinced that I know something about everything, and that my opinion matters. If only to me. Well, you'll see what I mean. And I love to knit, so you'll see what kind of things I'm doing when I should be vacuuming the living room.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend Wrap-up in a Nutshell

First off, I've got no pictures. I left the house Saturday morning at 6 and realized I'd forgotten my camera. Sister took some snaps with her camera phone but hasn't sent them to me yet.

Pictures of what? Oh, booth at the Canterbury fair!

Friday was a bustle of activity. I keep my finished knits in a big green plastic tote right here beside the computer. Down there, by my right foot. As I finish something, I photograph it, list it on etsy, and into the bin it goes. Well, Friday I had to go through that bin and tag everything and price it. I spent the morning sorting, steaming, making and applying tags, and repacking my inventory. And then I had to pack the car later that day.

I lied. I just took a couple. These are some of the tags I make. They're care tags that I print on the computer, then I hand stamp and color the front. The back has the price and my shop info. You can see them bigger if you click on them.

And humid! Mother of pearl, it was muggy! I had sweat in places I didn't know I had glands.

Got up at quarter after five on Saturday and Sister and I headed for Canterbury. We were set up in plenty of time and I did REALLY well. Made lots of beer money! It did rain on us, though. I'm thinking of calling my craft business "The Leaky Tent" because that's what we were under during the deluge. It's actually pretty watertight, only you know how tents tend to develop pockets that collect water? Well, those pockets leaked. So we had to move everything in to a tight cluster toward the center of the tent.

Then the rain passed, and the sun came out and it got really muggy and hot again just in time to pack up.

I have never sweat so much in my life as I did on Saturday. I treated the family to Pizza Hut for supper and was almost too tired to chew. I went to bed at 9, I was that tired.

Sunday was muggy again. I cantored at 8, and in my opinion, mass could have gone on for hours. The A/C was on and it was downright chilly in there. It was awesome. I took Sister to lunch to thank her for being my wingman at the fair all day, and we spent the afternoon shopping. Not my favorite pasttime unless yarn is involved (and it wasn't), but it's always good to spend the day with Sister. And she did spend the day under a humid, leaky tent with me, so it's all a wash in the end.

Also on Friday I got the call to cantor my first funeral. I was in the queue for the one on Saturday, but I had the fair. So I got back in line for the next one, which is tomorrow. I rehearsed last night with Lillian the organist, and it is going to be great. Musically speaking. Funerals are seldom "great" as a rule. Though if anyone does a great funeral, it's Father Albert. The man is a liturgical genius. He does it right. Almost over the top, but not quite. He knows how to ride the line between "Oh, this is just so lovely" and "Okay, that was too much." The man can work a room, and even though it is a religious service, he knows that production values matter greatly when it comes to getting and keeping the congregation involved and interested.

This mass-going experience is new for me, and I know I'm spoiled by it. I spent a lot of years bored in church because the priest did nothing to make it beautiful. Oh, and it can be beautiful, I see that so clearly now.

I grew up in the 7o's where you had the choice between a wheezing organ or a guitar folk mass. Equally heinous.

We have a full choir with a good organ and talented organist. We have a talented music director who keeps up to date with the newest and best the liturgical composers have to offer, and she also plays the piano and guitar, and occasionally the recorder to accompany the organ music. Even as we speak, she's at a musical conference this week.

Father understands that the mass is an offering to God, and rushing through it and mumbling are just not done. He takes his time. Every gesture is done deliberately and with purpose. He wears an ear-mounted mic, so there's no rustling from his vestments. He knows how and when to turn it on and off surreptitiously so we don't have to listen to him blow his nose, clear his throat, or chew the host.

He's also a master homilist. He tells a story to start each sermon. He doesn't use notes. He comes right up front, away from the ambo and talks to us. And he's interesting. He's not "preachy". There's no fire and brimstone, just a lesson. And like a good teacher, he tells us the story to get our attention, then he embroiders the theme and makes it relevant in our lives. He's really, really good. Mr. Poops once remarked that he's the first and only priest that doesn't put him to sleep week after week. High praise, indeed.

And he's so High Church he's practically Anglican. He uses incense whenever and wherever it's called for. It looks like a speakeasy in the church during Easter. He speaks numerous languages and has been known to do parts of the mass in one of them. During one baptism, he did part of the mass in Polish because the godparents came over from Poland just for the ceremony. When he sent one of the Leroux girls off to Haiti for a mission trip, he blessed her in French at the end of the service. He learned the Our Father in Norwegian for Erly's funeral, and she wasn't Catholic.

We get young people involved from an early age. Usually you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an altar server. Our youth now goes on to teach religious ed themselves, they are cantors and lectors and eucharistic ministers.

Baptisms are not hurried affairs in the back of the church after mass. The family brings the baby to the front not once but twice during mass, and at the font (right up there in the front) the children of the parish gather around the welcome the newest member. Alleluias are sung and bells peal.

Weddings are also community affairs and the couple will often invite the parish community to their nuptial mass to see them married. Anniversaries are marked, and couples renew their vows before the congregation all the time.

Funerals are beautifully done, and rather than a time of deep mourning and sadness, the mass is a celebration of life, both the one we were given on earth, and the eternal one we are seeking. Father reminds us over and over of the Easter promise, and while we are sad to say goodbye, you can't help but feel hopeful that death is not the end, but only the beginning.

So really, I'm lucky. I wish everyone who hates their church--or hates The Church in general--could come and spend a Sunday with us. Seeing a mass done really well, being part of an active faith community, and having as a guide a priest who really gets what Jesus was all about and lives his life in those footsteps has really changed the way I think about religion.

And I didn't even mention the coffee and donuts we have after mass.

But I digress. I didn't mean to go off on that tangent, but there you go. I'm on a caffeine high. Bear with me.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. I rehearsed with Lillian last night. Did I mention I'll be singing the Ave Maria? I panicked a bit when I saw it on the list. I mean, I feel confident with belting out On Eagles Wings or I Am the Bread of Life...but Ave Maria? Only Singers need attempt that piece. That's Singers with a capital S. I was none too sure that I could do it, being merely a singer with a lowercase s.

But know what?


That's MY song, baby, yeah. Maybe it's because I've always thought it a particularly lovely bit of music to begin with. Perhaps it's because I've always felt that the Blessed Mother was my personal protector in lieu of having a particular patron saint. Maybe it's because I wear that prayer around my wrist everyday etched in silver. Or maybe I've just underestimated my singing abilities all along.

So at first I was nervous about screwing it up and kind of wishing they'd picked something else. But for the first time, I'm not at all nervous, and rather looking forward to getting to sing it again.

And on that note, (music humor...heh heh heh) I have to go. I need to arrange my book for tomorrow, I have to work on class reunion stuff this morning, and then the house needs some serious cleaning.

My work is never done.


Blogger Batty said...

OK, without meaning it to sound bad, but I think you're going to rock that funeral. Can't wait to hear how the singing went!

An interesting priest is such a wonderful thing to have. Different people have different approaches to the priesthood, and it's interesting to see the difference. My favorite was Jackie, who managed to bring important issues to a level where everybody could understand and think about them, and who managed to do it without dumbing them down. My least favorite has got to be Father Mike with his sermon about the ending of Seinfeld. WTF???

11:02 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

I miss church. sigh.
Its so wonderful to be around a person that has such a God fearing heart. I am a bit jealous.
Great job at the fair! Your tags are especially cool. MMM PIZZA.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

Oh Poops, I so want to go to church with you. I think you might've inspired me to go to mass next Sunday.

You're sneaky that way.

10:17 PM  

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