I went to church today, which sadly enough was unusual enough to make my daughter say "WHAT??!!!" when I told her. Her reaction made it sound like I had said I was going to join a cult or retire to Tahiti or shave my head or stop eating chocolate. But it was a special occasion, a baptism, and I'm glad I went. Even if the old-fashioned preacher did say at one point that it was a man's job to bring home the bacon, and a woman could also work outside the home if she had the time.
I used to go to church. For years I played the piano at a small, country church where I "led" a choir of 6 people. Eight on a really good Sunday. I "led" them just like you "lead" a cow into a branding chute. Not that I know a whole heck of a lot about cows. Or branding chutes. But whatever. They weren't particularly good singers, and I wasn't a particularly good leader, so I played the piano very loudly (and fast) to make up for our mutual ineptitude. I was there every Sunday and every Wednesday. That's probably why Sweet Girl doesn't go to church now. She figures she put in her required hours all those years she didn't have a choice about it. I gave up the piano-playing, choir-leading job when I was working on my doctorate because Sunday was the best day for me to write uninterrupted. (Sorry, God.)
My late father-in-law... My former father-in-law.... My late ex-father-in-law.... My ex-husband's father was as close to a saint as I have ever known. He was a kind person, gentle, calm, God-fearing. I have no idea how he came to be saddled with a son such as my ex. He accepted me and Sweet Girl into the family (and his house, for a couple of years before our house was built), and he tried to stay out of our way. In his house. He got up in the middle of the night one time to wash dishes that I'd left in the sink. (I never did that again.) And it wasn't to shame me, either. He was just that kind of person. He was as country as they come, a sort-of farmer who made a living running three chicken houses (THAT's a smell I hope I never have to live next to again) and raising a few cows on about 110 acres of land. That's a lot around here.
He went to church every Sunday. It was always a shock to see him dressed in his Sunday best, a hint of after shave wafting behind him, as he left for church. I was just so used to seeing him in his farming clothes and driving a tractor. But he was a faithful church-goer. And he was a good person. He exhibited all the characteristics we typically associate with someone who will be ushered right through the Pearly Gates, without having to remove his shoes and go through the metal detectors. Which leads me to the point of this whole post.
He was just so old-school, from a different time, and no one could shake ANY of his beliefs, not just the good ones.
He came home from church one Sunday, looking a little perturbed. Frowning. Almost scowling.
JW: Guess who came to church today.
Me: I don't know. Who?
JW: A BLACK lady!
Me: (Puzzled.) Really?
JW: Yeah. And guess who she sat next to?
Me: Ummmm...... you?
JW: Yeah. (Frowning and shaking his head.)
JW: But you know what? She didn't cause any trouble at all. I think she was just there to worship!
He was totally flummoxed (now isn't THAT a cool word? I just looked it up to make sure I was using it right) that a person of a different color could actually come to church JUST TO WORSHIP. How could such a good person be so wrong about people? What were they teaching in that church anyway?
He never drank, he didn't smoke, he went to church, he read his Bible, he gave to the needy, and he prayed before his meals, but he still had this conviction that some people were inferior to him just because of the color of their skin. He was a good person. But I hope they made him go through the metal detectors.