A couple of summers ago, Tripp, Kelsey and I were running late to church. This was nothing new mind you. I’ll never understand how a family of three who lives less than five minutes away from a church with a Mass that starts at 11:00 a.m. always seems to be running late to church, but at any rate, we were running late. Again.
I should have known it was going to be a rough morning when we didn’t get our normal parking spot behind the stop sign on the side street next to the little white house. Once we got inside the vestibule I was relieved that at least the choir had not yet lined up for their procession in front of the priest, so we made our way to the back of the church and then, making the sign of the cross, blessed ourselves at the holy water font.
We made the late-to-church walk of shame down the center aisle and as we got closer to the front, I was dismayed to see that another family had taken our spot. Didn’t everyone know that we sit five pews back on the left side by the big floor drain? “Must be newbies,” I thought to myself. And while I was looking for a spot a few rows behind our pew, Tripp took hold of my hand and pulled me over to an empty pew on the *gasp!!* right side of the church.
I looked at him with a bewildered expression, but I knew time was short and didn’t want to make any more of a scene than we already had. So I followed my husband and daughter and sat down in the pew.
We barely had time to kneel and pray before the pipe organ announced the procession. As entrance hymn began, the priest and his posse made their way down the aisle. I should have have been making a joyful noise and singing the Lord’s praises, but instead I was going crazy in my head wondering why on earth Tripp would make us sit on the right side of the church. Didn’t he know we were left side people?
Now with all due respect to any of my “right side” Catholic friends, I am just going to tell you that the “left side” is actually the right side of the church. We may just have to agree to disagree on this one. I have always sat on the left side of church. When I was a little girl, I sat on the left side by the choir where my parents sang and my dad played guitar. Once my grandparents moved to town, I sat next to them on the very back row on the left side. (Grandpa liked making a quick exit so they could beat the Baptists.) Then after Tripp and I got married – you guessed it – we sat on the left side along with all of our friends.
That’s why I was so
perplexed fit to be tied when Tripp sat on the right side. I felt like my hair was parted on the wrong side or that I had my shoes on the wrong feet. All during the mass I kept thinking to myself, “Why did Tripp want to sit on the right side? I thought he liked sitting on the left side. Everyone knows that we sit on the left side. What will people think?? Why is he doing this to me?”
I have no idea what the readings were that Sunday or what the homily was about. And by the time the Priest began the Eucharist Prayer I had picked my cuticles raw and worked myself into a complete frenzy. When it came time to exchange the sign of Peace, Kelsey wouldn’t even look at me in the eyes and when Tripp went to kiss me on the cheek he whispered to me, “What has gotten into you!?”
Finally, after 60 agonizing minutes, Mass had ended. But unfortunately I was not going in peace, and to be perfectly honest, loving and serving the Lord was the last thing on my mind. I could not get out of church fast enough. I didn’t make eye contact or exchange pleasantries with the parishioners around us, and I barely said goodbye to Father Tam who loves nothing more than greeting his flock and shaking hands outside after Mass. I was making a beeline for the truck.
Once Kelsey and Tripp got back to the truck – I was a good 20 paces in front of them – we all climbed in and assumed our positions. Then Tripp turned to look at me and said, “What in THE hell is wrong with you? You are a jump ahead of a fit!” It was at this point that the hour’s worth of bottled anxiety finally erupted and I burst into tears wailing, “Why did you make us sit on the right side? We ALWAYS sit on the left side. I don’t understand!” Tripp, in an effort to diffuse the situation, calmly explained, “I just thought it might be fun to change things up a bit.” To which I cried, “Well what else do you want to change? Do you want a new wife (really who could have blamed him if he did)? Do you want a new house? Do you want to become a vegetarian??”
Tripp being Tripp just took my hand and said, “It’s OK Dear. I promise. I won’t ever make you sit on the right side again.” And then, Tripp drove us home and no one has ever spoken of this incident again. Thank God.
But I have never forgotten it (obviously). That Sunday, after I had a chance to calm down and get a grip, I was really troubled by the fact that I got so upset over something so small and insignificant as sitting on a different side of the church. What I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time, this is when I first started seeing the writing on the wall…. Kelsey was getting ready to start her senior year in high school and knew everything was going to change. And I was scared shitless.
I’ve talked a lot about change here on my blog and this is what I have learned about it in a nutshell – Change Happens. Sooner or later, things will change…a lot of the time for the good, occassionally for the worse. But most of the time just because it does.
As you’ve probably gathered from this story (and my whole blog really), change is not my strong suit. But I think I’m a little better at because I’m not as scared of change as I used to be. And now, after what’s arguably been the biggest year of my life in terms of change, I am looking forward to my delightful daughter being home for the summer. I know it won’t be exactly the same as it was before she left for college – she and I have both undergone a lot of changes this past year. But that’s a good thing and we’ll figure it out as we go along.
As long as we can sit on the left side of the church.
***Editor’s note: my mother would like you to know that I did not get my dislike of change from her. Thank you. That is all.***