The priest of this particular church is very old and very mumbly. I can understand him about as much as if he were actually performing the mass in Latin. It's a long story, though, of how I came to be kneeling in this old church, with its profound lyrics set to stodgy music, watching the indecipherable Father administer this sacred ritual that is practiced every single day, in churches all over the world, for thousands of years now, essentially the same way every time. I am watching and listening. Open.
I don't know where to start this story, except to say that I am not Catholic. And I have never wanted to be Catholic, not at all. It's safe to say I had a disdain towards it. Still, there I was, by my own free will, looking up at the 103-year-old repainted ceiling and having such a loving exchange with God about how much he knows that I do not, even to the point of knowing what this particular priest was saying, how many other priests were saying the very same thing at that moment, or at other moments, inviting Him to be present in such a tangible way.
I've put off trying to tell this story because it seems exhausting to tell it consecutively. So instead, I've decided not to. It'll likely come out in random order... starting with the present. My husband and I moved to Columbus, Georgia one month ago after being separated for 8 months while he was in military training. He is now a US Army Ranger stationed at Ft. Benning, and I am now a Junior at Columbus State University. He's 30, and I will be in November. We're both a little old for what we're doing, but that is what happens when everything falls apart and you start from scratch in many ways. It is still us, though, married for 8 years now, and for 5 of those years our main source of income was his job as a non-denominiational, Protestant Youth Pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Military was nowhere on our radar for most of our marriage, except in his dreams and my nightmares. I was many things during his time as a youth pastor: a college student, a barista, a Teacher Assistant at a welfare elementary school, a wedding videographer, an editor for TV commercials, an indie film blah blah blah... like I said, many things.
The last few years of our lives have been pivotal, and we are still pivoting in many ways. Most people who know us well know that Josh was a Youth Pastor and now he's an Army Ranger, but there was a time in between that is a little obscure to most, though they know it had something to do with Filmmaking. Perhaps that will be cleared-up here, the more I write. As I find the courage to write it...
Eventually, I decided that the ceiling in the sanctuary was definitely tacky. I figured it was probably prettier before they repainted it, more historic looking. But then I realized that it doesn't matter. What was painted one way once can be repainted again.
I've been to enough masses now to know some of what the priest was saying, even though I couldn't understand his words. When he stretched his arms towards us in a certain way and mumbled at a certain length, I knew that meant, "The peace of God be with you always." So I returned the gesture in unity with everyone present, "...and also with you."