Onion of God
It’s another one of those toss-up weeks where I am not sure who deserves the point, Humanity or the Apocalypse.
One the one hand, I had to go to church on Saturday. As a faithful lapsed-Catholic/practicing atheist, I don’t think I have been to mass since my father’s funeral more than twenty years ago. I think I was pretty much lost to the church in grade three Catechism when we learned about religions of the world. I raised my hand to ask, “But Miss, if those people all think their God is real, then how do we know we’ve got the right one?” and was sent to the principal for the strap.
And it didn’t help that although the whole family had to go to mass every week until the last child finished her sacraments, it didn’t seem to mean much. (I have distinct memories of my mother saying that the Pope was full of shit.) Mass was dull and confusing and what little chance I had of grasping the mysteries of the faith was dashed by the fact that I could barely speak French. My misinterpretation of the French word for lamb (agneau) meant that I spent most of my childhood trying to get my sins washed away by the Onion of God.
But as usual, I digress. Any weekend where I have to go to church should be an unholy point for the Apocalypse, especially when I have to stop in the parking lot to teach my nervous daughter how to make the sign of the cross. But of course there’s the other hand. (Left? Right? Which one is Jesus sitting at again?)
The other hand is that the church occasion was the baptism of my niece. So right away, I don’t have the full mass to complain about. It was a private service performed by a layperson who actually has kids of his own. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend had gathered the whole family in this lovely Québécois village church for a warm, informal ceremony to welcome their daughter to the family of God. I mean, even I was having trouble maintaining the pissy look more than five minutes into that. And then they revealed their surprise. My brother-in-law, who defied family predictions that he would die a bachelor by falling in love at the age of 33 and producing an adorable baby girl, announced that before the baptism, he and his girlfriend would be married. Stunned silence. Applause. Kleenex pulled out of big white purses. I myself got a little speck of dust from the pew that made my eyes all runny.
Melanie and Dominic found a way to share this moment with the people they love without turning it into a $30,000 circus of trashy bridesmaid dresses, floral arrangements, and screaming arguments with the mother of the bride. Eloping would have shut us out. But the surprise meant it was instantly and only about love– the love they have for each other and their daughter, and the friends and family they gathered to celebrate with them.
Which brings us back to church and a point for Humanity– a point for that moment of love, connection, and community that cut through my cynical view of the church and made my cry. I guess there is an Onion of God after all…
The Apocalypse: 13.5