Monday, April 05, 2004

on weaving palms

The SO and I went back to my alma mater for Palm Sunday. I'd like to get married in that church. Though there's another Catholic church nearby that my family has attended for 20 years, going home, means going to St. Joseph's in Alameda. This is the place afterall my search for a spiritual journey began.

I also like Father Rich who heads the church and who was minister for the high school when I was there. I like him. We've run into each other once in a while. We even ran into each other in the Philippines. He hated the heat. He's a practical guy; really makes the bible stories relate to real people in their real lives. I still remember the story he told during our high school graduation about how he got coerced by a little kid to ring the doorbell of a house. The kid couldn't reach the doorbell. After ringing the bell for the kid, he asked the kid what we do next. The kid told him, "we run, Father!" And then there's the story of how his dad drives him nuts just like everyone else's dad.

I remember my music teacher had gotten his girlfriend pregnant which was all scandalous for a Catholic school. They followed church rules that say you should put the welfare of the child first and not force a wedding before the child is born. (Yes, the church actually encourages you to have a child out of wedlock.) Her due date was close. I was the only person in class who knew that he wasn't married and that he was expecting. The day of his son's birth, the class was hanging outside during class, Father Rich comes along and exclaims, "oh, I guess today is the big day! He's a new father!" The other students react saying they didn't even know he was married. I answer them and look at Father Rich conspiratorially, "Why, um, yes! You didn't know that?" He nodded in understanding.

I was fortunate to only hit Catholic school in high school. To learn these doctrines at a point when I could question and analyze and understand and accept what I wanted for myself as opposed to getting it from ground zero and learning a religion as something imposed by school. It makes me a less bitter Catholic I think.

While listening to the Passion, I wove the palm fronds. You have to get the ones that aren't split yet and not so dry. I was kind of half listening and half weaving. I always have to relearn how to weave the fronds, figure out which strand goes under and over. I thought about the feng shui of a church, one shaped like a cross where the prosperity area and relationship area are cut off which makes sense. How parishes are often poor financially, and the priests, well, they ain't getting married any time soon. This leaves us to concentrate on the fame and reputation of Jesus Christ hanging on the crucifix. I wondered what the Vatican is like. I'm sure the Vatican's prosperity area isn't cut off. That would explain how the Vatican is filthy rich, but the parishes and the mass of the masses stay poor.

I then thought of religious icons. How Christan icons always seem sad and in pain. Even Mary seems sullen. But Buddha always seems round and jolly, like Santa Claus. When this one restaurant we frequented changed owners they switched religious icons from buddha to santo nino. The restaurant subsequently became more sullen and not as happy and the food started to go down.

I'm not sure what Mohammed is supposed to look like, so I pondered physical positions of prayer. When Muslims pray sitting on their knees towards Mecca, the position is the yoga "child's pose." The position opens up the hips in particular, which is an area of great energy in the body. I've read about it in some meditation books. I found that idea fascinating. How their prayer position literally opens up the body and energy.

They were reading Luke's version of the Passion and stressed that there is little about any kind of violence inflicted on Jesus during this time unlike, ahem, some blockbuster movies out there. But I guess people want to see the violence. They want to imagine that Jesus really suffered and phsyical suffering is easiest to relate to. In a strange way it gives them perspective like, "oh you think YOU got it bad, that isn't anything compared to what happened to Jesus." The psychology of it, the need to pay for things in blood.

A friend of mine doesn't go to church, but his wife, mother-in-law and kids do. He can't get himself to join any group anymore really. He is bothered by the way people preach "the one and only truth" and say that they are the only ones who know what that "truth" is. He can't join groups anymore because he feels like in order to stay in that group, he must believe in the same way that they do.

I compare that to me. I'm always joining or forming groups. But I've never felt like I had to believe what they believe in the way that they believe it. And if I did, I left the group. But somehow, I find that space, just under inside the perimeter of the group, that area where I can belong, but not really. I've always been the floater, even growing up. I floated between jocks and nerds much of my life. Being neither, being both. Everyone has a bit of the truth. Even I can't say I have the one and only truth, but I have the truth that works for me right now. And tomorrow maybe it will change, and next week, it will be completely different.

Even my friends now are like this. We float in and out of each other's lives, but always remembering the one truth of our friendship. It allows us an open door. Like my high school teacher who literally had the front door and the buddy door in this old place she lived in. She didn't rarely opened the front door to anyone, but if the light is on, the buddy door was always open.

I managed to weave through three palm fronds during the reading of the passion then my fingers got sticky from the sap. I'm thinking about attending mass more regularly. It's partially a requirement I think to being married in the church. But it's not about requirements. I'm just feeling like I should just be home more often.

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