My head is full of church stuff, lately, so I'm going to write a few things I'm enjoying about this little church we've been attending. First up: old people.
One of the key things MM and I are looking for in a church is an age mix. We think that people are healthiest when they get to mingle with a variety of people older and younger than them. We've been to too many churches where we were the oldest people there. Someday that will be legitimately true, but for now, we want to be in the middle, where we belong.
The pastor of one of the churches we'd visited earlier in the year told us about how their church's old people were, "killer," which was great news to us. Well, They may be, but none of them ever spoke to my husband and I in the 3 months we attended. And if we tried to talk to them, we got polite, but short replies and no engagement. Meanwhile, this current church is filled with warm, friendly old people who always make a point to engage with us. We are loving it.
George and Gladys welcomed us straight off our first day, and last week, we chatted like old friends about how Gladys had the same surgery as me 3 times, and shared book recommendations, and talked about recent vacations. We're pals now. We get the two handed hand clasp during the passing of the peace.
Katherine, an arthritic cellist who always dresses in hot pink, exclaimed when she met us that with names like ours, we should be an ice skating team, or some kind of secret rock band. She then spent several Sundays introducing us as members of a secret rock band whenever she got the chance. We had great fun gifting her a copy of my husbands instrumental rock album. She reported that she liked it very much, and had written us a thank you note, but misplaced it, and didn't have our address anyway, but she did, just like it so very much.
Several of the older ladies dress so classy for church. Very put together. They nibble on their cookies and sip tea and gossip a bit and arch their eyebrows meaningfully during coffee hour. They also gather often on the side of the sanctuary with people who have gone up for prayer. I see them looking each person in the eye with concern, rub their arm or back, pray fervently, and hug them at the end. These women have been here for decades and seen each other through all kinds of trials and blessings and losses. And still managed to keep their hair styled, lipstick fresh, and accessories coordinated.
Two weeks ago we shared a table with a darling woman named Delphinia. That's all I really have to say, isn't it? She comes from the era when girls were named for flowers and trees and virtues. She is as pretty as her name, though she prefers to be called Deedee. (I would pay cash money to see her wedding photos. I bet she was a lovely bride.)
One woman, who we sat with this last week, I can't remember her name, but oh! She's fabulous. She's tiny. And she has a fun sense of humor, sparkly eyes, and the sweetest voice. (Well, speaking voice. MM and I secretly think she is the, um, "stand out" choir member. Ahem.) She often does one of the scripture readings. Lately, we've been going through Jeremiah. Dude. So awesome. She hollers and shouts all fiery and stern, speeding through the lines without stopping for breath. I half expect her to pound the lectern. She doesn't, but man you can tell she's feelin' it. Then when she's finished, she folds up her book and sweetly murmurs, "The word of the Lord." I want to hug her. Or fist bump her. Or both.
There aren't many women of color at this church, but there are two older ladies with big laughs and even bigger hair, and I can't wait to sit with them someday. They tell stories and cut up, often with little kids fresh from Sunday School. They are on the prayer team (ministry? team seems too low church for this bunch...) too. This past week, as we tried to enter the fellowship hall for coffee, they herded us outside, "No, no. There's a picnic today. You go get your food outside, now." Cannot wait to meet them.
There are several older men too. One who wears bow ties. And not ironically, like the little Hipster kids do. His bow ties are legit.
Several old women struggle with arthritis and osteoporosis. One is bent practically in half. Each week my heart catches with a mixture of beauty and pain as I watch her walk to the rail to take communion. In this church, they let little kids go first with their Sunday School teachers and parents. Next up are a pack of old ladies who sit in the first couple rows, so they have less far to walk. This woman is bent so that her head is the same height as the children. She smiles at them and they at her as they all make their way to the front. The kids wriggle and jump up and down, excited to take communion. She kneels sooooo slowly next to them. The priests have to bend way over to warmly smile into all their eyes and offer Christ's very Self to fill them, young and old, with hope and love and life. It takes her a while to stand and get back to her seat. I'm always thankful when Bow Tie Man offers her an arm, though she often doesn't take it. She's tough. (Or maybe she has a 40-year grudge against him and refuses to bury the hatchet. Who knows?)
Yep. Killer Old People. Just one of the things I'm enjoying about this little church.