119. A Place of Worship

      A place of worship is here; it’s where ever I am. It’s inside and outside of me. It was in the half hour coyote symphony outside my window last night; the bright star two feet below the sliver of the moon; the morning walk in the darkness to pick up yesterday’s paper I share with a neighbor, as well as in the Canadian flag a teeny bit below the American flag that was gently moving in the warm breeze.

     I think about how it has changed over the years.  My first place of worship was a small country church with about thirty families.  We, meaning my family, had our own pew.  It began as a pew shared with my grandparents on my father’s side.  My grandparents on my mother’s side had attended the same church and were buried in the graveyard; about ten steps away from the church.

      My first memory is me being upstairs in the choir loft with my father having a book in his hand and he was singing in Latin. The choir sang a long drawn out kyrie elision which is the Latin version of the lord have mercy refrain that is said or sung every Sunday.  I remember the darkness of the church when only a few candles were lit for the first Friday evening Mass of the month.  Or the up and down kneeling for stations of the cross that we went to nearly every night during Lent.  Lent seemed to go on for a long time.  My brothers were the alter boys for the priest and it would be funny if we could get them to laugh.

         My dad would leave his place in the choir or the place in the pew when it was time for money collecting.  He took the long-handled basket and I would watch to see if he would hit anyone on the head, but he had it down pat, how he’d lift that basket up and over and in and out; down the pews and up to the front to the alter.

       There was a communion rail up there at the front of the church. It had a lace cover and I couldn’t wait to have first communion so I could leave the pew and walk up the aisle with the big people and kneel to receive the host.

      We had to change pews, as in get our own family pew, in this little country church as mom kept having babies and sometimes there was up to ten or eleven of us squeezed into one pew. The church closed before Mom quit having babies. I think everyone around us from neighbouring farms, was going to town more often and they were building bigger and bigger churches in the towns. Another denomination bought the little white country church and it was moved into a small town about thirteen miles away.

       For about a year following its closure, we went to three different catholic churches that were in a nine-mile radius of our farm while my father made the decision which parish would be right for us. In 1964, I was in grade four and the catholic church in the town nine miles away where I went to school had no organist. My aunt who was also my godmother purchased a piano for our home and though she could not play, she expected me to go into that church at that age and play four hymns each Sunday.   I did. Don’t ask me how except it was one finger playing by ear and probably learning by mistake.

          I was in church numerous times a week for weddings, funerals, choir practices, Lenten observances, holy days, and every day during holy weeks.  I can not forget Shrove Tuesday, Candle mass, Immaculate Conception; the preparation and celebrations for the sacraments or when the bishop was going to appear.

          That church became the new place of worship till I left home and one of the grateful parishioner couples gave me a crucifix for graduation as a thank you for my years of playing.

         This could be why the songs I write today come to me sounding like hymns and another reason why I believe every moment is a place of worship.

          I have now added a verse to my song:

                                                        I am divine inside of me

                                                        All is divine outside of me

                                                        We are connected to all that we see

                                                        Living and loving, how fun it can be.

                                                                        December 17, 2015


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