The cake is gone, the festive dishes have been washed and put back in dark cupboard corners. My son’s confirmation went better than expected. He even said during the party that he was getting bored of gaming. He played board games with family and friends. Hallelujah!
I have to share with you the story of my confirmation because it is such a crazy story it seems made up. I got confirmed during a presidential campaign year. I attended a small rural church. The church was large but the congregation was small, probably around 40 regular attendees per week. We shared our pastor with our sister congregation 20 minutes away. After 2 years of sitting through Saturday morning confirmation classes listening to my pastor’s monotone speaking, I got confirmed. I memorized all the creeds and required Bible verses. The night before the big day, the eight of us confirmands had to answer about 300 memorized theological questions in front of our family and friends. By golly, somehow we pulled it off.
I was the only person getting confirmed in my church, the rest were getting confirmed in the sister church. We found out that a senator running for president was stopping at my church on the campaign route. He was stopping on confirmation Sunday. Finally, it was time for the big day! The parking lot was beyond full. I was escorted to the front row of our church. My mom hired a violinist that was a recent immigrant from Poland. The secret service patted him down and inspected his violin case thoroughly. The church was packed, there wasn’t a single open seat. The offering from that one service probably tided the church over for the next 10 years.
I remember being terrified while reciting my confirmation verse and giving my explanation of the verse. My voice squeaked like a frightened church mouse. Afterwards, we hosted a huge meal for the senator and he spoke. I had my picture with the senator in all of the local papers. Big things don’t usually happen in small towns.
I am sitting inside watching the rain fall like little tears from heaven. I sit and think. Thinking again. I am waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop. Waiting for a large Saturday morning cup of coffee out in my hot tub. It is my tradition.
When I think of church, I think of traditions. Rituals always done the same way. But what if it rains? What if things change? I have been to many different denominations. Even non traditional churches have their routines. The same similar structures every week. The way it starts, the way things end. The time it ends always the same. Ritualistic, though intending not to be.
Tomorrow my son is being confirmed in the church we have chosen. It almost didn’t happen. Remember a couple of weeks back when I still wished my grandpa was here with us? He still is here. I see him reflected every day in my son. My son didn’t want to just go along with the rest of the group. He has so many questions, more than answers. Like his great grandpa, he is so full of piss and vinegar to be agreeable to conform. He felt too imperfect to be a Christian. He is honest and I respect that.
We ended up having a long conversation with our pastor. It came down to my son having to make a decision. Are you with us or not? My husband talked to my son about leaving the door open for God. Faith is not a perfect all or nothing compartment that my son wanted to put it in. He struggles, don’t we all? He questions, shouldn’t we all?
He decided to get confirmed. He is leaving the God door open. He made a drawing of Jesus carrying a cross through an open door. He also picked the verse of Revelation 3:20. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Whether we choose to believe or not, shouldn’t we always be seeking to answer the questions we have in life. To not be stagnant. To not just go with the flow. Life is meaningless without having meaning in it.
The rain clouds parted, time for my Saturday morning ritual. Then I will put on my Martha apron, cooking and cleaning for the party tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I will be Mary. Always a work in progress….
Our foreign exchange student from Japan arrived safely Friday night. She was tired, so we gave her a little cheese and sent her off to bed. She already has the knickname of Hickory, very similar to her own name. I liked the name so much it made me long to have one more child. What? Wait! No! Forget about that, but it is nice to have one teen in the house that doesn’t talk back. Lol. Everything is exciting and new for her. Her sense of wonder reminds me of a 2 year old without the tantrums. So far it has been a very pleasant experience. Paul and I would like to have a foreign exchange student longer than a week when our youngest is in high school.
Saturday morning, Paul made bacon and pancakes with real maple syrup on top. As is customary when we have a family meal, we say a prayer in thanksgiving for our meal. We tried to explain to Hickory our culture and beliefs. Paul asked Hickory if she knows what Christianity is. “No” replied Hickory. He asked if she knows God. “No” replied Hickory. He asked Hickory if she knows about Jesus as he was bringing out the cheese. Very excitedly Hickory replied, “Yes, I know cheeses”. I suppose it will be confusing if we send her home with a cheesehead. She may end up telling her parents that we have a strange culture. Stories of us Wisconsinites worshipping cheeses before eating it. Stories of us worshipping strange men in cheese colored uniforms while wearing cheeseheads. Makes me wonder what other people think of us, huh? Don’t ya know?
Hickory also arrived bearing gifts from Japan. She gave us green tea cookies and chocolate, a fan, soup bowls, chopsticks, and saki. The saki was wrapped in newspaper written in Japanese. Of course, I am thinking of sending back some good WI beer wrapped in newspaper. I could wrap it up and send it back in a cheesehead for protection. Hickory’s dad is a sushi chef. No pressure, right? We have been making a lot of “American” food for her. Paul is making his homemade pizza tonight. It is the best pizza ever. Good thing you don’t know where we live. We are thinking of getting her dad either a Brewers or Packers apron. Now if we could only get some brats and cheese to them…hmmm.
Other than that, we have been trying to show Hickory as much of our culture as we can. Last night we went to a chili dump. Some of the other foreign exchange students were there. They had a bonfire, live music, pumpkin carving, a piñata, and other yard games. Today we played miniature golf and had a picnic at a park with the school group. I hope she really has a good experience here. And she doesn’t go home telling everyone that we worship cheeses.