Call at the Cathedral

Cathedral of Saint Andrew

Cathedral of Saint Andrew

Yesterday was a milestone on my road to becoming a Catholic – Call to Continuing Conversion. It started at 9am with a gathering of the candidates and our sponsors for a two-hour retreat. A candle is lit (fake as to comply with fire codes). We heard a reading about time. I don’t think I have ever heard that many phrases using the word “Time”. There were so many dimensions and descriptions of time. In our current world, time is spent, and there’s not enough of it, and it’s always in a hurry. Then we were dismissed for Mass.
We gathered again after and talked about our first Rite of Reconciliation. We had many questions about logistics: where, how long, what do we say, when, what if we cry? I know mine will involve many tears. Will I be composed enough at the end to walk out and face people? Will I find relief from my guilt?
In the afternoon, we gathered with 22 other Parishes at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in downtown Grand Rapids. I have to say that after years of attending churches that have that minimalist industrial look – WOW! I love the craftsmanship and beauty of this place. It was built in 1875 and has high vaulted ceilings, gorgeous stained glass windows (which the sun did its part to show off), dark carved wood everywhere. Huge pipes for the functioning pipe organ. The music was provided by a small orchestra that included a kettle drum. A small choir sang as I imagine heavenly hosts might sound.
During the Procession, we sang Amazing Grace. The beauty of the Cathedral, the music and choir, the pageantry of the ceremony – all new to me yet comforting, as if I had drawn strength from this before.
Each Parish was called and the Catechumens and Candidates walked up to the front to be received by Bishop Hurley. It reminded me that I had been on a church staff for six years and never met the senior pastor. Just another contrast.
We ended with a recessional hymn, The Church’s One Foundation, a hymn that I remember singing growing up.

I will not be officially received Easter weekend with the others in my class – there’s that annulment process yet. But, I will wait. That is one thing (of many) that I need to learn yet, to wait for the right time, for things to be ready and in place. ¬†For everything there is a time…

Learning the customs of the local tribes

I have lived in this house almost 5 months and I am still discovering light switches.
It seems like a simple thing, but when everything is a new thing, it can get overwhelming. Since I moved back to Michigan there is so much to learn – to just get through daily life. The first is the left turn thing. Around here there are few direct left turns; you must drive past the intersection and then make the turn. There is often an extra light involved. At intersections where they do allow you to make a left turn, there is generally a left turn light that flashes red. Handy when there is not much traffic; not so much when really busy. Of course it’s never really busy here. Not like the Kennedy or 294. The first couple months here when I saw the flashing red left turn lights ahead, I always thought a train crossing was coming.
They also don’t use salt on the roads here. In Chicago, what looks like a half inch of snow on the roads is usually just salt. I’m understanding how the population density affects local services. When you have all single family homes, the local tax base is much less than side-by-side hi-rise condos. I never see a snow plow or a police car; not so many can be afforded.
Then there’s learning the ways of the tribes. There’s the ways of the household tribe. That’s for future blogs (and future therapy sessions). There’s my new in-laws. Today, at lunch, I sat and marveled at the delicate diplomacy of what layer of cousins to stop at to invite to the May wedding. This was a two hour process and I am fairly certain it is not resolved yet. Not ever having cousins, I have never had to have this discussion. The rule I formulated in my head was: “If you don’t know if their children are married yet or not, you don’t keep in touch enough to invite them”. But then I am big on making these kinds of rules.
There’s learning the ways of the Catholic tribe. At least they understand and give lessons. I’m learning to trust the process and realize the process is sometimes the whole point. There are many rules and procedures that I want to rush through because I like my rules better. So I am learning to surrender my will – in teeny-tiny bits right now. There are a bunch of good people supporting me in this. And they have quite a job.
And then there’s the Aldi tribe. I’m not an Aldi person; I’m a Meijer person. Aldi is like the old Soviet Union and Meijer is the United States in terms of selection and pure joy of groceries. I’ve been to Aldi several times and have not quite got the choreography at the check-out down. Everything is scanned and dumped into a cart that is not the one you used and then you go over to a ledge and pull the groceries out and put them in the bags you remembered to bring. It reminds me of after you get through security at the airport and you have to hurry and find any surface to put stuff on and lean against as you re-dress yourself. I have yet to do the shopping cart rental process solo. Looking forward to that milestone.

Miles to go before I tweet

I don’t know what you use your Twitter account for, but I use mine, mainly, for gathering clever or inspirational quotations. I follow thought leaders in politics and christianity and writing. But not the big ones. I don’t follow the White House or the Pope or John Grisham. I follow people I have met, or would like to meet. I follow people that have helpful blogs. Only a couple of my friends are on Twitter and they don’t tweet much.
Every time I see a quote I like, I grab a notecard, write it down, and put it on a stack that I, at semi-regular intervals, enter on my computer. Then they are available for my Points to Ponder. Points to Ponder was a regular feature in my email updates to my volunteers at Seeds Bookstore. The other feature was Tips for Pain Avoidance. The tips were for the volunteers to change something they were doing that was causing me pain in the form of extra work. But, sometimes it was just general admonitions, like reminders to use sunscreen or that a Barbie doll with lots of hair spray strapped onto a sidewalk skate and pushed on the sidewalk could cause sparks that would set Barbie ablaze. Or so I’ve heard.
So, I will leave you with a point to ponder. Kintsukuroi: to repair with gold; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.