Sometimes we have to leave a place, grow a little, then return to recognize the charms it possesses.
When I walked away from my childhood home of Norfolk County, it was more of a run. A run away from what I perceived as the boring smallness of country living and toward the exciting bigness of city life.
And that run lasted a very long time.
Now that I’ve returned (temporarily), I’ve noticed a few things that I didn’t see before.
For instance, driving can be treacherous in September. Not because of weather or speed or bad drivers. It’s because of these:
It’s not uncommon to be driving along a country road, when someone glances a roadside stand and suddenly slams on the brakes and throws it in reverse so they can get their hands on some yummy deliciousness from the neighbors back 40.
Someone… like my mother:
Along with roadside stands, there is also something called Cemetery Sunday, which is the social event of the season around here.
On Cemetery Sunday, the Sunday morning mass is in the grotto, which is the outdoor chapel that resides between the church and the cemetery. Everyone showed up with their lawn chairs and blankets.
The priest told the story of how many of the local farmers who built the grotto years ago are buried in that very cemetery. Church felt like a picnic and everyone was chatty and friendly with each other. The way church should be. Afterward, the congregation went to stand in front of their family plots. The priest went to every plot and gave it and the family a special blessing. Father Mo gave me an extra blessing for coming all the way from Paris to attend Cemetery Sunday. Thanks, Father. I’ll take your blessing.
I love any good spiritual mojo coming my way. Blessings. St. Christopher’s medals. Prayers. Light. Charms. Bring it. I’ll soak it up and take it with me. Bonus: Blessings of any kind always fit in my one suitcase lifestyle.
I recognized a few faces from my childhood years. And honestly, there was a part of me that cringed. I wasn’t exactly the most popular girl in elementary school. I was quiet and an easy target for ridicule. So now, years later, and after a lot of self-work, when faced with these people, I took a deep breath and remembered what the Dalai Lama said:
My religion is kindness.
And I’m thinking this at the Catholic mass.
But I’ve learned after all my religious study that the base of all religions is kindness.
You can decide right now how offended you’re going to get by that statement. But truly, at their base, it is love and it is kindness. Even that religion that isn’t yours. Now you know.
So I decided, whoever I see today that made me cringe in my past, will be met with my religious practice of kindness.
And what happened?
I was met with loving kindness from everyone, including those cringe-worthy people of my past. Smiles. Waves. Kind words. Laughs. It was fantastic.
After the service, the community had a barbecue. Everyone had to bring a salad or dessert. The dogs and burgs were supplied. I chatted in between face-fulls of fresh homegrown tomatoes.
In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, he writes that this is the one time of year people lock their cars at church, not for fear of the vehicles being stolen, but fear that if they don’t, someone desperate to offload their garden’s bounty will leave a bag of vegetables on the front seat.
Our bag had tomatoes and broccoli. Charming.