Before I moved from Hawaii, I started attending church. It was not so much a faith thing for me but a trying to sort out life thing. I chose St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Partly because I had gone to a very well attended funeral there about ten years ago for a work colleague and had never forgotten how touched I was just being there. Yes the church is really, really lovely and when it is full of people and there is singing, it is something to behold. But for me, it really goes to what the choir master of the Cathedral said during one mass after I had been attending for a bit. He said that the Cathedral felt like a thin place. If I can quote directly, “a thin place is a term used for millennia to describe a holy place in time where the space between heaven and earth grows thin and the Scared and the secular seem to meet…..a porthole into the spiritual world.” I feel like this is why I was drawn to the Cathedral. I would sometimes go alone during the day on the weekend. To just sit and be. If I was downtown for some reason, I would go by. I always felt drawn to it.
My significant other and I settled into going to Saturday evening mass. It was, well, short. That was appealing. It was also very informal. Frequently our pastor would be attired in shorts and slippahs. His sermon would be off the cuff with shades of his more formal Sunday sermon. But more folksy. More relatable. And that really worked for me.
As we continued to attend Saturday service, we got to know our fellow attendees. It was a really small bunch. We rarely numbered more than a dozen unless there was a christening. When someone did not show, they were missed. I was sad to leave my little church family. It was something that made Honolulu feel sticky to me. A place that I wanted to stay in.
Recently our Pastor wrote about the fire in Kaimuki that killed a woman and her nine month old daughter. He mentioned that there was a connection to the congregation. I looked at the picture and did not recognize the woman.
Today, I found out that the woman and her daughter were the daughter and granddaughter of the couple who sat across from me in Saturday mass for over year. They were always friendly. She often brought treats for our little group. She was thrilled about her baby granddaughter. They were babysitting. She would say that she would bring the baby to service but she would cry and she didn’t want to be disruptive. I told her to just do it. That we would not mind. That we could take turns holding her. Because everyone loved babies.
And my heart is broken for her. For him. For the husband. The words that everyone says spring to mind. Platitudes. But there are no words. There is nothing. And the life that she was projecting for herself, her daughter, her granddaughter is just gone.
So yesterday I made a giant lasagna and drove out to my mom’s. We went for a long walk. It was cold but not too cold. When we got back I put the lasagna in the oven and cooked it. My mom, my sister, my son and I ate dinner together. And chatted. And had mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. It was the best I could do. As I continue to struggle to live a more meaningful life.