Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: CHURCH

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

Here are February's prompts: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

I grew up in the Episcopal Church, and I have many warm memories related to my experiences at the various churches we attended in all the places we lived. (I have some not-warm memories, too, but today I want to focus on the “good.”) And because this prompt is bringing up so much for me, I've decided to use this space to simply catalog some of the experiences, without going into great detail. My intention is to come back to this post later and expand some of these memories.

Interestingly, I recently learned that my mother was a reluctant Episcopalian. She switched to the Episcopal Church upon marrying my father (at his request), and when she spoke of it, it was with some regret and a twinge of anger. This came as a surprise to me, as I'd always imagined religion was more important to my mother than it was it to my father. It shows you, doesn't it, how our childhood assumptions are so often faulty.

In Ft. Meade, Florida, I was part of a couple of church musicals – Music Machine and Down By theCreek Bank being the ones I remember best. It was my first taste of musical theater, which has been a lifelong love. I can still remember many of those songs by heart!

Erin, Irene, Kim
Christ Episcopal Church
early '80s
At Christ Episcopal Church in Covington, Louisiana, I sang in the choir and participated in the youth group. I had my first crush and broke my arm in the church parking lot. I was the first girl acolyte. One year we buried a time capsule, but by the time it came to unearth the capsule (which was such a great idea!), our family had already moved to another place.

While I was in high school, we attended Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Trussville, Alabama. That's where I got my first taste of public speaking – on the topic of “Faith” at Happening, a teen weekend retreat.

Throughout my childhood my most cherished friend-groups came from my churches, not my schools. At Holy Cross it seemed to me we were a group of misfit kids from Irondale and Pinson and Roebuck and Trussville... and somehow we all fit in at our church group. It helped that we had devoted, inspiring youth leaders – 2 couples: Mary and Murray and Karen and Roger. We rode in Mary and Murray's “Blue Goose” to Camp McDowell, which remains a favorite spot of mine to this day.

At Halloween we got in lots of trouble for attending a Judgement House at a Baptist church (instead of a regular haunted house, which had been the plan). This was a big deal because Baptists and Episcopalians disagree on their beliefs about hell and salvation, and some parents didn't want their kids exposed to those other ideas. To us, it was just entertainment. We loved being with one another. I'm so so grateful especially to Jennifer, Jeff, James, Anthony, Bucky, Tommy... and to my siblings Lynn and MicaJon, too. I'm not sure how I would have gotten through those years without the love and support from all of you.

1 comment:

  1. I am not in touch with anyone from my church youth group, but I remember how much I enjoyed our Sunday night gatherings especially in high school, Irene. I too was in the choir and now more than anything I remember the 'older' ladies with whom I sang and how welcomed I felt by them. It is fun to read about your memories and that you remain in touch with some.


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