Friday, April 08, 2005

Me and the Pope Swing on High

Last night as Partner and I were running errands, I tried to tape Survivor. However, as the sole DST concerned person in our house, I had failed to set the VCR clock forward and alas, no Survivor for us. Worse things have happened. I changed the time of the VCR, and set it to record at 3:30 am: the time the Pope's funeral started in Eastern Standard Time. Our local news station was even scheduling the morning broadcast via the web so the funeral could run uninterrupted. How morbid though, to tape a funeral.

I am a cliche really. I cry at [al]most all funerals and weddings. I can guarantee you I'll shed a tear when I watch the tape of the Pope's funeral and at the wedding tomorrow of Charles and Camilla. (I probably won't watch the latter, and will (even worse) cry at the clips I see on the news.)

I bought one of the Detroit paper's today with the commemorative front section on the Pope. It's filled with anecdotes from people about when they met the Pope, or a Pope encounter. Most of them make me gag with their sentimentality (and this coming from the girl who has cried at beer commercials), so I thought about what my own Pope story was. When he came to Detroit, our parish had a lottery for tickets to see the Pope at the Silverdome (now being torn down). My dad won tickets and I was sure he would take me. In fact, I'm not even sure if I perhaps won the tickets and they were co-opted by my parents. In any case, my dad took my Gramma and I couldn't then and can't now begrudge that decision. I will still jealous. I was dying to see the popemobile. (Now, sing "popemobile" in the Batman song in place of "batman!" Try it, it's more fun than you think: Na-na-na-na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na-na-na-nah: Popemobile!") This was first time I had dill pickle soup-- my mother made it in commenoration of the Polish Pope's pop-in. (I also can't help doing the alliteration thing with the word Pope. Why is that so much fun also?)

Yet far and away my most vivid memory of this pope happened in 1981. My particular grade school, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, had very limited playground equipment during my tenure there. And yes, that is the name of the school: I couldn't make it up if I tried. We had a few cement sewer pipes, a funnel ball thing (why is this fun?), and a metal jungle gym that a school could never have in this day and age because of the liability that would be associated with it. There was a large grassy field and an asphalt area where some kids played kickball, a game I hated then and still hate to this day. In third grade, we got swings. Swings, glorious swings! Every day after we ate lunch (in our classrooms-- there was no lunch room) we'd line up at the door for recess. Of course we had to walk to the school doors. Such speed walking you never did see, but once out the door it was a mighty foot race. Chariots of Fire, what? I relished in the dash to the swings-- there were only six, and as such they were in high demand. If you got a swing for recess, you didn't give it up.

One day while outside, we were all summoned indoors and told that the president had been shot. Solemnly we were led to the church where we spent the rest of the afternoon praying the rosary. Flash forward a few months later-- it's recess, and I have a swing. I've beat out 8th graders. I ain't giving this swing up. It's spring, and I remembered to put on shorts under my uniform skirt, so I could swing with as much abandon as I please and not worry a lick. An 8th grader appears at the back door of the school and rings a handbell. The news trickles back to the swing area: The Pope has been shot. We must go inside this minute. Oh, so skeptical and jaded I was, only in 3rd grade, that I thought this was an elaborate rouse to get my swing. I stayed on, even as the playground emptied. (As I tell this story, I realize what a different time period we were in: I cannot imagine an 8th grader today running for a swing at recess.) The rollicking I got as the school was filing over to the church and yet I still swung on-- it doesn't bear repeating.

How is this symbolic of my relationship with the Roman Catholic church today? With the Pope? I have found that sometimes I need to keep swinging, through the ups and downs of the Church. Ignore the nuns yelling at me and keep reaching up with my feet pointed, face straight up to the bluest blue of a cloudless May sky.



Blogger Career Guy said...

Kathy and I turned on the Pope's funeral when we got up and they were already at the Consecration. She brought her little battery operated TV in the car on the way to work and I would hold it for her so she could listen while driving and watch it at red lights. We certainly misted up at certain points, but that's because it was a funeral, after all. I think it's a riot that Americans believe Ronald Reagan brought about the fall of Communism, when all along it was John Paul II. It took a little more than the "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech to actually make it happen.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

Too true about Reagan and the wall.. But I think that it was a number of actions that brought about the end of Communism in certain but not all eastern European countries. The Pope is a factor too...

I still haven't watched the funeral. I might have to wait until it's raining. It's been so beautiful here lately.

But then I was thinking there is something about dying during the Easter season. We were at the RC church again this weekend, and in the announcements before Mass, Sister Singer let us know that we are still in mourning. It's odd- with all the celebration of Easter juxtaposed to that mourning.. but then I thought, "how perfect-- how utterly perfect." Do you know what I mean?

12:59 PM  
Blogger Soul Searching said...

Such a beautiful post. I feel like I should be saying something a little more thought-provoking, but I'm just genuinely moved by the words.

5:07 PM  

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