Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Maybe I'm working with the wrong age group?

Today was a great day. After writing the first post I did some "scrappin'" and went for a run before going to mass at 5:20 at Holy Spirit Church. It was really the only daily mass in the area so we were just going to that one because, well, we had no other option for mass today. I arrive early so I can spend some quality time with Jesus before mass starts, and decide to sit up near the front. Oftentimes in Holy Spirit I sit near the middle to the back on the left-hand side. Not today. Today I'm feeling a little more spontaneous so I plop myself down on the right side towards the front. Daily mass at Holy Spirit hasn't been all too packed in my experiences, so I figure people will just each sit in their own row, at least two rows apart, as is common in such a large and spacious church.

It really isn't long at all, maybe five minutes, before the first family shows up and sits directly in the row in front of me, with a total of maybe five people scattered throughout the rest of the church, which is large and spacious, if I haven't mentioned that yet. "Okay," I think to myself, "this is probably their usual spot and I sat right in the middle of it. Darn, I hope they don't mind me being here." After that and until mass starts people keep coming in at a steady rate, and a woman even sets up a microphone over by the piano and it appears we will have music at tonight's mass. "Sweet!" I excitedly think, "maybe there's a special mass because it's labor day, even though that's not a church holiday so it seems a little strange. Maybe it's for St. Gregory the Great's Feast Day?"

More people keep coming in, and many sit up near the front on the right-hand side (where I'm at, remember), some more sitting directly in front of and behind me, I'm beginning to feel surrounded. Just then, a kindly looking woman (who I will come to find out has an incredible singing voice) comes and sits in my pew, not even two feet from me. My eyes and my heart keep flitting to and from my breviary where I'm trying to meditate on the Psalms, but I'm just so surprised yet distracted with everything happening around me. I take a deep breath after said woman kneels down to pray, say a quick "thank you, Jesus" prayer, and the next thing I see is an older guy and his wife coming from the other side of church, in my pew yet again. He crosses the center aisle, gives me a confused look and sits down right next to me. When I came in the pew I originally left enough room for Cari and Mikayla were they to come and sit next to me, so it was the perfect amount of space for two people. Hence, there was no reason for me to scoot away from this jolly man, because I am surrounded anyway. The best part is that when I saw this fellow walking towards me he was smiling and greeting the people behind and in front of me, and out of the corner of my left eye I see Cari's white T-shirt directly headed to sit right next to me. And would you believe it that she was blocked by a much more eager Len Didier (we would come to meet him later). I smile to myself and wait until after mass to share a good chuckle with Cari.

Fr. Didier's Grave in Alexandria
Speaking of "afterwards," a free dinner is announced in the social hall directly following mass, and I for one love church gatherings, especially in parishes with people of all ages, such as this one. The Labor Day service at Holy Spirit Church for the past several years has become an annual memorial mass in honor of Fr. Darin Didier (click on his name for a website set up in his honor, with stories of miracles and a short bio), a priest ordained in 2005 in the Fargo Diocese, served at the parish for only 77 days and died as a result of an extremely rare form of cancer. Msgr. Wald gave the homily including bits and pieces from his life and it sounds to me like Fr. Darin was, and still is, an incredible individual deeply committed to the mission of the Church, which is to evangelize. His grave is in Alexandria, MN and hundreds of people visit it each year seeking prayers for miracles, and many miracles have actually been granted through Fr. Darin's intercession. Cari and I found this out after mass when, as we were leaving, the jolly man who sat next to me during mass stopped us and asked which part of Wisconsin I'm from (because I just so happened to be sporting a Wisco tee). We come to find out that this is Len Didier, Fr. Darin's father, and as he told us stories about his son and some of the miracles and healings people experience through his intercession his eyes welled with tears and he portrayed a father who delights in his son. Cari and I had goosebumps the entire time and truly hope to take a trip to Alexandria this year to visit the grave and have supper with the Didiers--apparently we're invited anytime! 

Before stopping to talk to him, we were sitting with Doris (with an extremely long last name we can't seem to remember...), her husband and two other elderly gents. We chat it up with them while enjoying a delicious meal and before getting up to leave Mrs. Doris (the cute lady at Holy Spirit with the hair piled on top of her head, she told us that's how we should remember her) tells us how tickled they'd be if we came and sang in the 11:00 Sunday choir with them. "I dare you," she smirks at us. "I double dog dare you." Flattered, Cari and I both giggle, clearly thinking the same thing: I love her. After a few closing interactions, as she turns to leave she invites us to her house, anyyyytime! She smiles, "I dare you to come, I double dog dare you."

Our last interaction with people our grandparents' age was tonight on the way to a bonfire at the Breen's house. Cari and I both have a soft spot for fun music that's easily dance-to-able, even if not always the most appropriate. A song came on with the catchiest of catchy beats and as we pull up to a stoplight there is nothing keeping us from boogieing down and gettin' our groove on. That is, until we look over at the car next to us, which happens to be a nice elderly couple watching us with blank expressions. No smiles. No angry, "those young hooligans" faces. Nothin. Just a lot of discomfort and many laughs on our end. I think they love us, but just cannot gauge whether we are completely crazy and they should call the police on us or not. (They didn't call, in case you were wondering.)

So it was a great day for spending quality time with some older folks, hopefully tomorrow my meetings with students younger than me go just as smoothly! Perhaps we'll bust out a little Rhianna if things get too dry, wink.

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