Once, a long time ago, I knew a very quiet teenage girl named Laura. She didn’t speak up much, but always had a small, sly observation on the scene around her. Sometimes, she and Emily would put on formalwear from the late 1960’s and their alter egos, The Sexy Sisters, would sing disco songs for our side-splitting delectation.

When Laura decided to go into the ministry, I was pretty awed. It’s a long process, to become a Unitarian minister. I knew she’d do it; I also knew I never could.

The ordination service was nothing like I expected, and also everything I expected. Stilt-walking didgeridoo player? Check. Hawaiian leis? Check. Speakers in foolish jester hats? Check. You know. All that serious stuff for such a serious occasion.

But that’s what happens at this church. I should know this by now: The momentous is not necessarily serious. Laughter is as likely as solemnity, and the unexpected shows us different ways of thinking about things. The jester stuff is an homage to the Faithful Fools, a street ministry group in San Francisco, with whom Laura has worked. Their premise is very Unitarian, and very central to Laura’s ideology, that every life matters. Hey, it makes sense to us. So why not have a foolish ordination?

Then, of course, at the reception in the hall, there were the old friends to catch up with: Jeff got married, had a baby, and moved to San Francisco, Crystal avoided getting married and is thankful. Emily is working at a chi chi restaurant, but she doesn’t really dig the food. Rob is a gentleman farmer in Parksville, with step kids and a tweed coat.

We are so much older than the teenagers we were, hanging out in our sunny corner room on Sunday mornings, “Psychedelic Sundays” piped in from the classic rock station. Now, our lives are well into the second and even third acts. But we still remember the easy relationships we had with one another, and how much we laughed together. In that space, at the church, it’s easy to remember that we are miles away from those kids we were, and that those kids are right there with us, all the time.

Dismantling the decorations in the hall, packing leftovers for the street kids’ drop-in centre and on-strike library workers, I felt the comfort of that community embrace me again. None of the people in the kitchen needed the labels on the drawers and cupboards; everything has been in the same place for twenty years or more. (Except the toothpicks! They moved the toothpicks. Why?) The easy familiarity of the place meant things got done smoothly and efficiently.

This is why people come back to church. Because it feels like home.

13 Comments to “Ordination.”

  1. By Arwen, September 17, 2007 @ 9:54 am

    Amen. You know, I had just decided to start bringing my kids to meeting, and then you and elswhere and rachel, all made me wistful in one week. It’s been unintended support, but has been supportive none the less.
    Meeting is far away geographically, and Vancouver meeting only knew me with my father, and was therefore a very dramatic place.

  2. By foolishminister, September 17, 2007 @ 10:43 am

    So great you could be there last night. So much has changed and so little.

    Here’s my blog, though as promised, I don’t write much on it.



  3. By gen, September 17, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

    Isn’t it funny how we are all looking for a way back or in my case somewhere. I wonder how much of it is age/place and how much of it is because in this crazy, crazy world we need a spiritual home.

  4. By gen, September 17, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

    Btw, way when I think of my spirit’s home it is always a gnarled tree. Interestingly, the seasons seem to change. I wonder if it is a reflection on how my spirit is feeling.

    – No wonder the “What Religion Are You?” came up with pagan as first choice.

  5. By Arwen, September 17, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

    Oh, hey, Gen. I just did the test you did, with the same results. Neo-Pagan, Unitarian Universalism, Liberal Quaker, New Age, Buddhist. And then Scientology. They forgot to ask any questions about my understanding of the morality of indulgences.

    It appears I’m also 37% nontheist and an 61% reform jewish.

    ‘Course, the only way you can tell a Unitarian from a Quaker – since they’re both fuzzy liberal lentil eaters – is in the practice around being fuzzy and lentil eating.

  6. By rachel, September 17, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

    It is, of course, every atheist’s dream to inspire their friends to renew their faith. 😉 Heh. I’ve had enough of these conversations with Arwen by this point that I concede to being a person of “faith” myself (albeit with scare-quotes).

    I come up Secular Humanist on that quiz, with UU a close second (Quake, Theravada Buddhist, and nontheist are almost tied for third). I am less fuzzy than some, but I do like lentils. Okay, not in that weird, intense Pythagorean way. More in an Epicurean sense (why do they never have “Epicurean” on these quizzes? They’re not the decadent sensualists they are commonly believed to be…)

  7. By Liz, September 17, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

    Arwen, the Vancouver meeting house is over on 70th and Oak or something, isn’t it? That’s a little far to go. If I were a squiliionaire, I’d private-jet you up to check out the Johnson’s Landing meeting house. Gawjus.

    Gen, you are pretty pagan. You know. For a Catholic. 🙂 I think we’re responding to some kind of getting-older-wondering-about-the-big-things calling, by thinking of going back to church. Incidentally, my spirit’s home is a beach. Does your spirit get more shelter in the tree?

    Rachel, I think they miss ‘Epicurean’ on the quizzes because there aren’t any Epicurean churches/temples/meeting houses around. Also, didn’t Epicurus call for sexual abstinence? Hard to build a young following in that case.

  8. By gen, September 17, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

    It might be a bit more sheltered. It is strange, I always thought that mine would be a beach too as that has always been a place I go to when I need to think. I am imagining that if I went a little past the tree and to the left there would be a pathway down to the beach.

    As for the paganism, it is true that there has always been a lot of that in me for a Catholic (or maybe because of the Catholicism). I am definitely all about rituals and incense. However, I just can’t see packing Imogen up to go to the nearest Wiccan coven. I am a little wistful that there is no spiritual home for me to go to on this plane.

  9. By Beth, September 17, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

    My spiritual home is the hill looking over Georgian Bay in front of the meeting house at Camp NeeKauNis.
    And I have a Monday confession. As one of those liberal fuzzy vegan loving Quakers: I really really dislike lentils.

  10. By Beth, September 17, 2007 @ 9:40 pm

    But I so totally relate to the knowing where the things go in the cupboards 20 years later. That’s what it’s like at NeeKauNis.

  11. By Arwen, September 17, 2007 @ 11:43 pm

    Well, Gen, let me check on the meeting here. I actually for real think it’d appeal to you, the whole gathered thing.

  12. By Arwen, September 17, 2007 @ 11:45 pm

    (Yeah, no incense and intonation ritual: but there is the whole mystical shaking ministry thing, which is as freaky as you want it to be. And, no rule against singing or intoning. Although probably against incense. I just see you being able to get fairy-freak-zone with the dope Quake shit. No?)

  13. By gen, September 18, 2007 @ 10:33 am

    Sounds good to me. Maybe I’ll just sneak in some incense. I’ll have it burning in my pocket and be like “What? Whaaat? No, I don’t smell anything.”

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