Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 9, 2009

Breaking a Few Rules

Driving home from the funeral, my husband said, “I was surprised you took Communion.”

“Why, because of germs? The priests rubbed their hands with sanitizer before. The wafers smelled like Purel.”

“No. Because you’re not Catholic. Aren’t you supposed to go to confession and stuff before?”

I guess. I mean, I know there are rules, but I wanted a blessing and felt I deserved one. There’d been a bit too much talk about all of us as unworthy, and I remembered holding a hymnal with my sister at our cousin’s wedding years ago, and coming across a line about we miserable sinners, my sister murmured, “I’m not singing that!” So I stepped up, feeling like I was claiming deservingness for Pat, too. She felt ties to the church she’d been raised in, but also hurt for feeling cast from it after a long-ago divorce. And then there are the things like the absence of women around the altar, though Pat had found a liberal church, where I’d be allowed to speak a bit about her.

“You’re fine,” I’d sometimes reassure Pat. “You’re perfect, or close enough. I can’t believe God is petty about details.” Like frowning upon her twenty-five year second marriage, even if it was consecrated under a tree instead of before an altar. So taking the host, I felt I was reassuring her one last time. We all mistakes and we’re all blessed, too.

Maybe this is how we can honor someone. We say what we need to say, paint what we were meant to paint, love who we were meant to love. Those of us who write, may start from our sometimes foggy and partly cracked hearts. We’ll make our rules, set up guidelines, then improvise, take a chance. Trying to make something beautiful from what began as a mess.

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Responses

  1. We all mistakes and we’re all blessed, too.
    Blessings on you and Pat both, and your generous hearts. As Leonard Cohen sings, “There is a crack in everything — that’s how the light gets in.”
    Thinking of you often, and with love…

  2. Hugs to you.
    I agree. I think God sees your heart, and is not hung up on the details.

  3. “Maybe this is how we can honor someone. We say what we need to say, paint what we were meant to paint, love who we were meant to love.”
    This speaks right to my heart. Thinking of you and sending love.

  4. Heart meet common sense.
    Pat is smiling right about now, I am sure.

  5. How and what you do at a funeral is between you and the person you’ve lost and maybe any close family members of that person. You did what you and Pat needed, and that’s what matters.
    I’m glad you’re posting. I’ve been thinking about you and hoping you’re doing okay–as okay as you can be, anyway.

  6. “Maybe this is how we can honor someone. We say what we need to say, paint what we were meant to paint, love who we were meant to love. Those of us who write, may start from our sometimes foggy and partly cracked hearts. We’ll make our rules, set up guidelines, then improvise, take a chance. Trying to make something beautiful from what began as a mess.
    Amen, Jeannine. Just beautiful.

  7. I know they used to not let women on the altar but that changed when I was little girl because Alana and I were altar servers. The priest we had during that definitely wasn’t progressive either. 😛
    Kind of funny because I think all I ever see now as altar servers are women. Women run the world, seriously. 😛
    Anyway I totally think it’s awesome you took communion. haha

  8. You did just right, Jeannine.
    xoxoxoxo

  9. Men are narrow minded, petty, and full of rules that exclude, but God doesn’t give a s***!
    Good for you!
    And what you wrote is just beautiful.

  10. Amy, thank you so much for all your good thoughts. And reminding me of Leonard Cohen, too. I mean to be back to more writerly thoughts. Pretty soon. At least here.

  11. Thanks Laura.

  12. Thank you for all your good thoughts.

  13. Thank you, Susan, for your heart and wisdom.

  14. Thanks, Becky. I don’t want to post too much about this, but … there’s not too much else going on for me right now, and I really do appreciate the support of you and generous others. I really am okay. But it is a loss. (okay at least till a telemarketer called and got an earful. I really might have made it onto his do-not-call-list for real. Not a bad thing)

  15. Thank you Tracy!

  16. Thanks for your blessing, Rachel. That means a lot to me.
    I’d like to think you got to be altar servers because you are fabulous, and not just because… the guys don’t want to do it any more.

  17. Thanks, Jo. Can’t wait to see you next weekend!

  18. Thank you for the kind words re my writing. Best wishes.


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