When I was young,I had a strong pull towards the church. Once at three and a half, I took my self to church. Then as I grew older (seven) I experimented going to different churches with my friends. I was searching.
I visited the Catholic, Methodist,Baptist, Pentecostal, and a Jewish Temple with friends. I finally chose the religion of my grandmother which pleased her enormously--Episcopal.
She attended a high Episcopal Church that my father referred to as a slightly watered down version of Catholicism. I liked the service being in English,the elaborate ceremony, incense, glorious robes, alter boys, and the really handsome young red haired priest tipped the scales.
|This is actually the actor Robert Horton but put a turn around collar on him and he is the image of my priest. My devotion was tinged with a case of the "smittens."|
We had a closed communion so I had to study hard, be confirmed, received by a traveling Bishop in a special ceremony before I was ready to take my place in the adult church world. After what seemed forever, I was ready.
Sunday came and I was to take my first public communion with the rest of the congregation. My grandmother was so proud. In our church, we knelt as a unit at a rail to receive communion. I would be the only child at the rail.
The day finally arrived and eagerly I took my place kneeling with all of the grownups. By stretching mightily, my chin came just to the edge of the rail. I saw the problem before the priest did and my eagerness was quickly replaced with dread.
While I was a little put off by having to drink after so many people, germs were not my main concern that day-- my height was. I had always been small for my age. So much so that every time I entered a new school, I would hear the shocked whispers, "she is so tiny." At eight, I was probably the size of an average 6 year old.
The wafer went well but as the priest moved down the line with the chalice, gloom filled me. The meaning of the ceremony took a back seat as I sensed pending disaster. Lord, we have a problem.
Just as I feared, when he presented the chalice to me, there was no clearance between the rail and my mouth. Though he tried to be careful and I stretched my neck far enough to make a turtle proud, my worst fear happened.
The wine sloshed over my chin and down the front of my new dress, missing my mouth completely. Because of the awkward angle, more than the traditional sip decorated me. Good thing I wasn't driving. I reeked of alcohol.
Eyes wide he mouthed "oh no", then continued down the line of participants as I blushed as red as the splashes of wine decorating my new white dress.
When the last sip was served, I folded my arms across my chest and slithered back to my pew thinking this was truly my last day as a church goer. Heathenism seemed the safest future for me.
Before I could escape however, an acolyte approached my grandmother and I. He whispered that the priest needed to talk to me. I was not to leave.
Oh great, now besides the humiliation and ruined dress, that handsome young priest was going to yell at me. What a perfectly horrid day.
What did happen however was that the priest apologized profusely for the spill. He then gave me special permission to be the only one who could stand briefly when time for me to receive the chalice. I still had to bend my knees slightly but that way I would be able to clear the rail. We even practiced with a water filled chalice.
That modification worked perfectly and I was happy to finally be a proper parishioner. I never again wore wine home from church---well except for that wedding in the 70's but that is another story.
Did you ever have a "first" that you thought might well be your "last"??