Tuesday, May 17, 2016
It was raining as I pulled up to the church. One of the front doors was open, letting in the momentary cool air. In the narthex, two women had covered much of the floor in a patchwork of felt. The color squares had names and decorations on them, but I didn’t look too closely. I made a beeline for the confession line, which was already formed, even though confession didn’t start for another 15 minutes. There is always a line here, which is nice to see even if it is a bit time-consuming. There was a group at the front of the church taking pictures. They had just finished up a baptism, and the baby was the center of attention as the rest of the family rotated in and out, taking photos in every combination. They waved and made funny faces to get him to look toward the camera. Ultimately, they let him have a toy, and he rattled and cooed obliviously to his adoring family and the row of onlookers in line. My ovaries took over my brain, and I watched the baby for a long while before remembering why I was there. Then I had to go over my examination of conscience again. Afterward, as I left, the women in the narthex had affixed the felt squares to a cross. It was clearer now that they held the names of kids getting confirmed or first communion. Baptism, confession, confirmation, communion. The church was chock full of grace this Saturday afternoon. I stepped outside. The rain had stopped, and the sun was softly shining. I was slightly disappointed. I love gloomy weather, and I was ready to interpret the cleansing rain as a sign of my absolution. But this wasn’t a story with a beginning, an end, or satisfactory metaphors. It was just another afternoon.