My grandmother died last week at age 91. It was surprising but not shocking. She had an aneurysm in her chest for years (a decade? more?) that she chose not to have treated. She knew that one day it would break and that day was last Thursday.
She was a strong, Southern Baptist lady so I have attended many more Baptist services than your standard-issue cradle Catholic. In fact every time we went to visit Grandma, I had to go to Sunday School with her and then afterwards sit in the long pew with the entire family where we were introduced over and over and over. Since I always went to church with Grandma when visiting, it never really occurred to me to expect Catholic things at her Baptist church. It was just different and that was the way it was. The only thing that really confused me is that I was expected to sit and behave without amusement at Mass and people would always hand me paper and pen to draw with at the Baptist church. "Am I supposed to color? Will I get in trouble for coloring at church? I thought I was supposed to pay attention?"
After my grandmother's funeral, her church hosted a dinner for us. We ate copious amounts of food containing corn in the fellowship hall. The children were getting antsy so I decided to walk them through the old hallways and show them the sanctuary. We walked into the old familiar place and the children started quietly exploring.
After being brought up to the exciting balcony, they walked through the pews and a child asked, "Do they just stand up and sit down?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do they just stand up and sit down? Where do they kneel?"
"They don't kneel."
"There isn't a kneeler here."
"That's because they don't kneel."
"There isn't room to kneel on the floor."
"I know. They don't kneel."
"If they want to kneel, they have to come out into the aisle."
"They don't kneel in the aisles. They don't kneel at all. Look across. Do you see that spot underneath the cross above the choir area? That is the baptismal font. That is where they baptize people."
"How do they get up there?"
"There are stairs in the back that you can't see."
"How do they dip their fingers in the holy water when they come in?"
Blinking stares of incomprehension.
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