Tag Archives: Christian

A Sleepy Sermon

Easter Sunday approaches with dew in the air and buds on the trees.  The day brings friends and families together to celebrate the unofficial arrival of Spring.  Candy dishes are full of jelly beans and the chocolate bunnies sit on the counter with a shocked look on their face.  Easter baskets are long gone, as far away as the kids live now.  No need to put them out.  The religious enjoy the spiritual meaning of the holiday.  Us?  Well, we attend Mass and would actually like to eat our jelly beans while listening to a good sermon, but that might be frowned upon.

Every since we got back from vacation, we started to attend Sunday Mass.  I don’t know why, but I thought it was the right thing to do.  Growing up Catholic, we both were religiously educated and received most of the sacraments.  And, as we got more and more involved in life, kids and work, that part of our life slipped away somehow.  Some people do a good job incorporating spirituality and life, but obviously we weren’t one of them.  There always seemed like there was something else we had to do, or a place we had to go instead.  Church didn’t fit into our schedule.

So here we are, a month into re-introducing ourselves to religious ceremony.  Sermons are good, people are nice, but the benches are hard.  We usually arrive early and just relax before the organ signals showtime.  Looking around, we notice a lot of people we know.  Feels kinda’ homey.  We’ve even started to be recognized by the Pastor.  It’s all about who you know, even at church.  The choir starts singing a song that he recognizes, but I don’t.  I know most of the prayers, but the hymns are touch and go.

My eyes start to droop.  We woke up super early to go to the 8am Mass, and it’s just hitting me  now, that this is actually the middle of my night.  Good Lord, 8am!  How can any sane person, or sane Catholic be to church so early?  My head drops and I’m out like a light.  Let the snoring commence.  Right here while Father Anthony gives his weekly sermon.  My companion nudges me awake and I’m incredibly embarrassed.   I’ve made a commitment to my religion, but can’t stay awake for it.  I’m going to burn in Hell.

I ask him if the sermon was nice, as we walk to the car.  He said it was.  We drove to get coffee and had a few laughs.  I really felt bad for sleeping, especially when I was looking forward to a little Catholic wisdom dropped on me.  Now, the only option I have, with my little problem, is a secondhand sermon.  Shorthand.  So why go at all, if I wasn’t going to get anything out of it?

So, I made a decision. If I was to continue to go to church, I wouldn’t go to the 8am Mass anymore.  The odds of falling asleep were just too high.  I can attend the 10:30am Mass and do just fine.  I will stay awake.   I will open the missalette and follow the hymns I don’t know.   I will pretend to know the prayers that I don’t.  I will listen to the sermon and try to be a good Christian.  What more can I do?

Easter is here and it’s Spring!  Whether you are religious or not, enjoy time with your family.
Don’t eat too much candy, and remember to get enough sleep.

Have Mercy

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I woke up surrounded by strangers.  We boarded the boat at 10pm the night before, in Tokyo Harbor.  My son and I were visiting my brother for 10 days, and my sister-in-law, Hiromi, thought it was a good idea for me to visit her friend on a remote island.  Her friend, Raymond, was teaching English as a second language to the native children of Nijima Island. So, my son and I, alone, boarded the ship not knowing where we were going or who we were going to see.

In the bowels of the boat, we carved out some space on the floor amongst hundreds of Japanese travelers.  These were the economy lodgings; a few square feet of carpet.  Shoes were removed and left in the small aisleway.  Adam and I took our spot, sitting indian-style, and tore open a bag of cheese doodles.  While we crunched on our snack, I could hear muffled conversations that had the word “Americano.”   They were talking about us.  Adam was 5 years old, and gave little notice to his surroundings as he chomped on his food.  But, I became worried with the chatter, as well as the captain rattling off life-saving instructions in Japanese over the loud-speaker.  People listened intently, as they moved their heads from one point of reference to the other.  Obviously, I did not understand where the life jackets were, or where to go in the event of an emergency.  I was screwed.  After realizing this, I nervously glanced over at my sweet child with his face covered in cheese dust. I couldn’t help but smile.

The 10 hour journey was uncomfortable, but we managed with what we had, rolling up our sweatshirts to make pillows.   I opened my eyes in the morning to see palm trees through the portholes.  What an amazing sight.  People were snoring all around me, when in my half-conscience mind, I noticed that Adam was not there.  I momentarily panicked, but realized he couldn’t have gone far.  He was always independent, so his absence was not really a surprise.  I jumped up, put my shoes on in the aisle, and headed to the upper decks.

As I emerged from below, I was in awe of the sight of Japanese fisherman coming from around an island cove.  I squinted in the sun, while watching their tiny boats bobbing up and down in the rough waves.  It looked like at any time one of these waves was going to break the boat into pieces. Each boat would emerge from around a shoreline and speed past our ship every two minutes or so.   The wind was gentle and kind, keeping the air crisp but not cold.  I had one eye on the fisherman and the other looking out for Adam.  He finally appeared chasing a boy a few years older than him.  I turned to embrace him, as he smashed into my legs.

After calming Adam down, we walked along the pristine deck, stopping every few minutes to soak in the sight of the chain of islands we were passing.  The boy and Adam decided to continue their game of chase, as I stood at the railing of the boat.  A Japanese woman walked up to me and started a conversation.  She told me that she was on the boat with her boyfriend, and that they were very happy together.  As the conversation continued, she mentioned that she has a little boy, who she sent away to live with friends in Georgia, USA.  This was important to her because she now had a boyfriend and there was no room in her life for her son.

I listened feeling a bit odd, as I am a single mother and would never send my child away for a boyfriend, but OK.  She then asked me if I was a Christian.  I said yes, and she requested that I pray with her.
I figured it is a duty to pray with a fellow Christian if asked, so I accepted.

She began, “Dear God”
I followed with, “Dear God”
She said, “Have Mercy on Me”
“Have Mercy on me” I continued.

She stopped me right there and corrected me, saying, “No, No, Have Mercy on ME!”
My mind came to a complete halt.  I thought, this woman just deliberately dumped her kid to take on a lover, and she is looking not only for mercy from God, but wanted me to have mercy for her too.  That was too much to take.

“Lady” I said. “You just got rid of your kid for a guy, and think that you need all of God’s mercy for yourself.  It sounds to me like you have everything figured out to suit your needs.”  She implied that I wasn’t worthy to receive mercy, it was all about her.  I was disgusted.

She looked at me with feigned shock, as her boyfriend stepped closer to her.  Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut I thought.  I had a grave vision of this tall, strong guy throwing me overboard, to defend his love.  And me, not knowing where the life rings were or how to scream help in Japanese.  I slowly backed away and said, “have-a-nice-day”, as I tensely shuffled away to collect Adam at the other end of the deck.

We had a wonderful visit with Raymond on Nijima Island, going to the public baths, singing Karaoke and drinking sake.  Adam and I toured the small island, meeting craftsmen in the village.  We enjoyed local treats and traditions.  We even watched the world surfing championships on the beach one day.  So when it was time to go home, I silently asked God for mercy as we boarded the ship to take us back to Tokyo.  I said a few prayers for our safe return, and for the safe return of all on board.

We didn’t have cheese doodles for the return trip.