A family outing. Proof of progress.

Jerry, Luna, and I went with a group of people from the church across the street yesterday to go bowling. A good time was had by all.

The morning was a bit rough because we’d had a late night the night before and none of us got to sleep before midnight.  Working through bedtime routine issues and getting consistent with the who’s responsible for doing what when is proving to be an ongoing challenge. I know, I know, we should already have a routine worked out, but with all the changes in Jerry’s work situation, the ever-changing daily symptoms from the fibromyalgia, and the impacts these things have had on Luna’s sense of security and well-being has all combined to make establishing a functional routine very problematic. So, for those of you reading who may have strong feelings and opinions on the matter, if you can present them constructively, by all means feel free to do so. However, if you want to tell me what we should be doing or passing judgement, don’t. I can assure you, we are doing what we need to do to take care of ourselves and our daughter. You aren’t here in our home or in our lives everyday and do not know what we have already tried or are already doing.

Anyway, we had been invited to go to the church hosted event to take the youth bowling. I knew Jerry wouldn’t feel right letting Luna go with a group of strangers, so had spoken with the Reverend and already gotten the details and been informed that we were welcome to join in on the fun. I had visited the church one time about a month ago when the Reverend was first starting but Jerry had never been there before and had only met her, briefly, one time.  Neither he or I felt okay about showing up after service and going with the group. So we made sure we knew what time service started so we could be there and participate before going bowling.

It’s an Episcopal Church. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and so far I haven’t seen or heard anything that is not in line with other Christian churches I’ve visited and attended over the years. However, the structure of their service is what I consider to be “High Church.” It’s much more structured and has more elements to it than what we normally experience.  Kind of like the difference between eating at Denny’s and having a five-course meal at a four-star restaurant. The main entrée may be beef but how it is prepared and what it’s served with is slightly different, but it’s still beef. In my younger years, when I had occasion to visit this kind of service, I felt uncomfortable and out-of-place because I didn’t know the order of service and was unfamiliar with the words of the hymns, or the liturgy responses. It seemed like so much pomp and circumstance. Now, I experience it as an opportunity to get refocused and centered on God’s Word and purpose and get my mind and heart ready to receive what the Spirit has to offer.

At one point in the service everyone steps out of their seats and goes through the room meeting and greeting, shaking hands and sharing the blessing, “May God’s peace be with you.” A lot of people came over to us and made it a point to shake hands with both Jerry and I, as well as Luna. They were genuinely happy and excited to have us there and to include Luna. The Reverend came down and did the same and Luna grabbed her hand and followed her back up to the front, where she stood next to the Reverend while announcements were read.  Then she helped the usher pass out some papers and came back to sit with us.

One of the really neat things that happened that day was an older couple was called up to the front and it was announced they will be celebrating 55 years of marriage this Wednesday. After that announcement there was something they called “feeding the frog.” One of the church officials brought a little ceramic frog down front and different members of the church came up and put something into the frog’s mouth as they expressed a significant happening ~ something they were celebrating or thankful for, or a special request for prayer in a challenging or difficult situation. I don’t know what was put in the frog’s mouth and it doesn’t matter as much to me as the fact that there was a space and time for people to share something significant with all the gathered community and receive encouragement and support. After service someone had provided a cake in celebration of the anniversaries and birthdays happening this next week.

Finally, we left to go to the bowling alley. The kids had two lanes and the adults occupied another two lanes. Those of us helping the kids didn’t really know much about how things work, but we figured it out. It was a very good and positive experience.

Thankfully, that sense of being comfortable with myself carried through yesterday and I was able to engage with a couple of the other women while monitoring Luna and her activity with the other children. Luna was happy, engaging, and interactive with the other little girls.  She didn’t just play with her things and ignore or push away from the other girls. Hugs and cheek kisses were even exchanged. I didn’t feel the need to be hyper-vigilant about Jerry, which is kind of new for me. He was enjoying himself, laughing, smiling, and even talking with the others some. He was pretty relaxed and open. This a rare thing. Over the years, we’ve gotten so centered and focused on the difficult, painful, and wrong things in our lives and our relationship, that we’ve insulated ourselves behind a wall of negativity. So, what we got to experience yesterday, going on this bowling outing was truly something liberating and, hopefully, life-changing. At the very least it was evidence that we are in the process of changing our lives.

 

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10 comments

  1. I loved your comments about beef and how it is prepared. Great analogy. I went to fairly expessive churches for a long time – contemporary, music, waving hands, singing out loud, even! Now I attend a Lutheran church with my husband and understand your feeling. My mother-in-law is Catholic, and I asked her about the ritual, vestments, rosary, etc. I never realized that all of that is heavy with beautiful, rich, deep symbolism to help one remember Biblilcal events and meanings. Enjoyed your post!

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  2. Yayy! Fun! This sounds like something you all needed, so I’m happy for everyone.

    The Episcopal church in the U.S. is the same as the Anglican church in England. Henry the Eighth started it when the Catholic church wouldn’t let him get a divorce. So they have pretty much the same rituals as Catholics, except divorce is okay, priests can get married, and women are ordained. I’ve been hearing about them a lot in the news because of some branches choosing to ordain homosexual priests and blessing same-sex marriages. The more conservative branches around the world and here are breaking off from the main church as a result.

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  3. Getting into a routine can be difficult for families that don’t have all your difficulties so don’t beat yourself up. It’s just me and the cat trying a routine as my husband is out of the house before we wake up and the chronic fatigue and recovering from the car accident still has me off.

    Glad you all had a good day. Just keep doing the best you can and remember what you see of others is frequently a mask and many times things are not as perfect as they look… Hmmm not necessarily as encouraging as I want that to be…

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  4. First of all, good for you!

    Secondly, I smiled at your description of “high church.” It sounds like you’re talking about the differences between a traditional service versus a contemporary one, perhaps? I grew up attending a more traditional church service and my church experience sounds more in line with your description of the Episcopal service you attended (I grew up Presbyterian, though). I dislike the contemporary services, I think, for the same reason you felt so uncomfortable in “high church”: lack of familiarity with the routine. Of course, when I joined the Catholic church when I married my husband, that sense of familiarity I had known was thrown out the window as they do things differently than I had known growing up. Three years later, I’m still getting the hang of things. 🙂

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    1. Kay,
      Thank you. Certainly part of it has to do with familiarity with the routine. I’ve experienced that so much in my life, not just with attending new churches, but all the moving around in both childhood and adulthood has meant new schools, new neighborhoods, and new jobs. Most of the church services I’ve attended in the past 15 – 20 years have been what you call contemporary: Worship music with words up on a screen, prayer, announcements, sermon and maybe closing worship song, or some version of those elements. This service had a booklet with the read/response. There were three hymns that the numbers were listed on a board up on the wall. There was a song for the “processional” where the Reverend, choir, and other officiates walked from the back to the front, carrying different things: a bible or book of some kind, a staff or flag, and maybe some other things. I also haven’t been in a church where those who were officiating were in robes and garb. Like I said, nothing wrong with it all, but it was quite a different experience. I actually enjoyed it.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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      1. The difficulty for me when I switched denominations was that, while mine was a traditional church, the churches I attended growing up did things slightly differently and the difference was just enough to make me feel like a fish out of water. Our services had printed bulletins that had the order of the service and any responses the congregation needed to make. The church I attend now expects you to know all of that going in, which I had a hard time adjusting to. That seems to be an institutional thing, though – from what I’ve seen in my own church, memorization of the mass ritual is emphasized from a young age. I suppose it’s easier when you learn these things as a child because I still feel very comfortable in Presbyterian churches, but then I think about the changes to the service that the Catholic church has recently made and how much my husband is struggling to incorporate those changes into his worship experience. He’s a “cradle Catholic” and has been doing this much longer than I have – I only have three years of habit to modify, while he has three decades.

        I’m glad you enjoyed a different experience! I am often resistant to change, whether it’s for the better or for the worse, which never helps anything in the end. It’s kept me from enjoying a lot of things and it’s something I continue to struggle with, though I’m trying to change that aspect of myself. But then, I can’t control everything, can I? 🙂

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