Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Friday, June 17, 2011

singing catholic?

I could never have cracked the Da Vinci Code…well maybe with Tom Hanks.

On Wednesday evening, I was sitting beside a Catholic woman, who is the mother of one of the girls I tutor in English. She had invited me to sing in her choir…a new, fun, casual, community choir. Well, actually I didn’t know at the time that it was a community choir. She had only mentioned that choir practice was Wednesday evenings, in a church, in a nearby neighbourhood.

It is shocking to me how little attention I pay to some things. We already know that I am a very unhelpful witness at a crime scene, and on Wednesday it struck me again, that I need to buck up and take more notice of the things around me. I had driven to and then entered a building which I just totally assumed was a Catholic church. I hadn’t looked at any church signs, hadn’t noticed that the building totally didn’t look like any Catholic church I’ve ever seen (you know, like how most of them, or maybe all of them, have a steeple?), and hadn’t noticed that there was not one single crucifix (should ‘crucifix’ be capitalized? Hmm, I don’t know. Shoot, now I feel guilty).

So, I’m sitting beside this nice woman and, after a few moments, as more and more (I’m assuming) Catholic choir members fill the side room we are in, I lean over to her and say, in a hushed tone, ‘Am I actually allowed to be in a Catholic church choir, even though I’m not Catholic?’ You know, I was thinking that it’s like going to a Catholic school, you need to be Catholic, don’t you?

As you can probably guess, she started laughing, and it wasn’t too quietly. Then she said, again not too quietly, ‘We aren’t in a Catholic church. I’m the one who’s out of place here!’ Heads started to turn to look at the moron who warranted that response, and immediately I wanted to say, ‘Sorry, I’m from Canada, I didn’t know!’ Which is what I say many times a day, when I make some sort of social, cultural or directional error, but in this case, that didn’t make any sense. I opened my eyes, and my brain, and looked around and realized that this church looked pretty much exactly the same as the hundreds of humble, unassuming Protestant (or branch thereof) churches I have been to in Canada. I seriously would not have known what country I was in if I woke up and found myself sleeping on a pew in this particular church. Even the songs we were singing are exactly the same…some in English and some in German…like any good ‘ole Mennonite church I’ve ever sat in.

Come to think of it, even the choir director reminded me of Duff, the kind, dictatorial but witty choir director I was blessed to sing with back home. Only this new guy spoke German. Actually Duff spewed German tidbits every once in a while too. At least there the trains zooming past the back door made it obvious to me that we were practicing in an old CP Rail station. Even I noticed that.

At the end of the day, I don’t really care where I am singing, but just happy to be doing it again…as long as my fellow choir members sing louder than me!
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