Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beyond the uniform

Went to early mass today at the Spanish-language "mission" maintained by the Catholic parish my mother belongs. It's always a pleasure to hear the mass in another language (I could even follow part of the enthusiastic young Mexican priest's schoolteacherly sermon on the Trinity - well, at least the Q&A with which he started: tres! uno!), and humbling to be at church with people some of whom are migrant laborers, living far from their families. I noticed one older man, his face burnt almost chestnut color from working outdoors, exchanging delighted smiles with a little boy... perhaps he has a grandson that age back in Mexico? Or perhaps he's never been able to have a family of his own? The boy's older sister had a long serious face which in profile looked like something from an Aztec codex. Worlds within worlds. A young woman came up and gave the church a giggly speech of thanks - she's joining a convent this coming week, thanks the congregation for its support. Already a novice, she wore a school uniform-like blue dress over long white sleeves. The music for the mass was provided by a soprano at a spinet next to the altar. She had a lovely singing voice and wore a uniform of another kind: short hair, baggy jeans, teeshirt and hoodie. We hear so much about churches being repressive and conformist, but the picture is always more complicated. If they normalize some forms of human life, they accommodate many more.

No comments: