Friday, January 6, 2012

The one in which I cock up Communion and invade a private space

Happy New Year everybody! I hope it brings to you and yours everything that you deserve and a bit more besides.  Well, since we last spoke my blog and I have both celebrated a birthday. Bloggie is a year old and I am somewhat older, but that's all you'll get out of me!

I had hoped to post earlier on in 2012 but Mr Blogger had other ideas and after spending days (well, hours at least) writing a round of the weird and wacky in 2011, at the very last moment, Mr Blogger suffered an unexplained dose of festive fallout and deleted the whole bloody thing. So much for Auto Save! So I will rewrite it when I have a minute but in the meantime I wanted to post something.

As you will know, dear reader, we recently moved to a lovely little village a bit further down the Wylye Valley from where we were before. It's a great place and rarely a day goes past when I don't wonder if I'm not living in a Harry Enfield sketch, there are so many interesting characters. And for such a tiny village it has a ridiculous number of writers, artists, sculptors and musicians too. It's also unusual as it is quite feudal. One half of the village is pretty much owned by one family who have lived here since the 14th Century while the other end is owned by the nouvelle arrivistes who came with shedloads of money in the 1950s. One family has history, the other has money. 

My mother always told me 'never underestimate how important it is to be seen at church in a village' so come Christmas Day we decided to go, partly because I do like churches (the buildings that is) and partly to offer moral support to a friend, a professional musician, who had been gently press-ganged into playing the organ for the family service.

He's a stauch atheist and not great lover of organised religion but he decided to take one for the team and, providing he didn't have to play any happy clappy modern stuff, he agreed to do it. He had threatened a bit of Van Halen as we arrived but in the end opted for something a little more traditional.

We've never been inside the church although I've visited the graveyard several times. I'm a bit of a graveyard groupie myself. I love wandering around, reading the headstones and seeing who's buried there. I'm particularly curious about a stone that lays just in front of the entrance to the church. Under it reposes the body of one of the servants from 'the Big 'Ouse' who requested that her mortal remains be buried there according to the inscription. I wonder why?  Was it because she felt treated like a doormat in life so she thought she might as well carry it on into the hereafter or was it because she was an awkward old bird and knows how superstitious some people (like me) are of walking over graves, so she had herself put in the most inconvenient spot. Maybe her favourite expression was 'over my dead body' and now we really are.

Anyway, we arrived at the church, which is almost next door, at the same time as 'The Family with History', who are lovely people that we have met socially several times.  We exchanged Christmas greetings and followed them into the church. Having not been inside before we just followed them. To my embarrassment we ended up sitting in a private section of the church which is just reserved for 'The Families of the Village'. In the olden days we'd probably have ended up in the stocks. With other family members pouring in behind us it was impossible to turn round and go out again we had no choice but to slip into a pew at the back, having been told by a member of 'The Family with Money' that he wanted the whole of the pew in front of us for his mother. Probably didn't want to catch rickets from us or something.  I suggested to The Husband that we sneak out but he told me in no uncertain terms that this was a Church and we had every right to be there. He's never been much of a lover of tradition, bless him.  So we brazened it out, even though the sign of peace didn't quite make it to our pew!

As Communion was being offered (and I was feeling a little peckish at the time) I decided to go up and take it.  I have a very mixed religious heritage and although I was baptised by an Anglican Bishop in Iran, my formative years were at a Free Church. I was even a Covenanter, which was a youth group for young Free Church goers although that was mainly because I was shit-hot at the weekly Bible Quiz! Nothing like a bit of Holy Competition.

So I took my place in line and waited..  Eventually my turn came and I knelt down in a space at the altar, head slightly tilted back, eyes cast down waiting for the body of Christ.  Reverend Mary, who was offering Communion looked down at me. 'Just a blessing, dear?' she enquired gently. 'No', I said, 'Communion please', tilting my head back, tongue out slightly. She looked at me and I looked at her. What was I supposed to do?  Point to my mouth and say 'gimme the Body!' 

Eventually she popped the holy wafer in my mouth and I waited for a bit of  'The Blood' to come my way. It was only then that I noticed all the others had their hands cupped in front of them and their heads bowed and she was putting the wafer in their hands. Clearly Communion was handled slightly differently here. As I had my sip of communion wine Reverend Mary leaned down and said kindly, 'Here, we take it in the hand, not in the mouth'. Well the body of Christ was very nearly snorted out of my nose! I'm all for a bit of double entendre but she surely had to realise what she had said. I smiled as best I could and hurried away from the altar, trying desperately not to choke. As the service was just about over I slipped out of the church and waited until The Husband came and found me leaning on a headstone, hysterical with laughter.

There's a fair chance we may not be invited back!



12 comments:

Steve said...

If they start building a wicker man... start running!

About Last Weekend said...

Well they've changed things since my day (which just shows you when I was last in a church). Communion was not supposed to be touched. Also I'm a huge fan of Cemeteries too. Bill Bryson has some disturbing facts about village graveyard plots in his latest book...what lies beneath is close to the surface that you would think

Wylye Girl said...

Oh my God, Steve, is that what it is?

Jody, well I'm glad it's not just me then. It's a minefield all this religious ceremony! I live opposite a graveyard which is separate from the church. When we moved in I went round each grave and said hello so we'd all be friends. My cat spends hours just staring out of the window at it. I think he sees dead people....

Mother Hen said...

Maybe you've started a trend or could start one. Go back! Hope your friend on the organ had a nice time.

mrwriteon said...

Can one be banned from a church? That would be very cool. I last took communion when I was about 15, I think. I'm a bit older than that now. So far I haven't missed it. Haven't checked in to see how God feels about that.

Curry Queen said...

That made me laugh a LOT! We live next door to a very old church and keep finding disturbing bits of gravestone buried in the garden :-/

Carol said...

OMG that didn't half make me laugh!! Priceless...absolutely priceless!!

C x

Ps. I have to say that images of The Wicker Man popped into my head too :-O

Wylye Girl said...

MH, I think he did, all things considered. He certainly played beautifully

Mrwriteon, I think they call it excommunication don't they? I'll let you know if it happens!

CQ, as long as it's only 'disturbing bits of gravestone' and not 'disturbing bits of human remains'!

Wylye Girl said...

Carol, there is some sort of structure going up in the fields opposite..... x

Trish @ Mum's Gone To ... said...

The last time I took Communion was in a Catholic church and must have been 20 years ago but even then they had changed from mouth to hand. Maybe we left-footers were ahead of the game!?

Dumdad said...

Chortle! Perhaps it is just us with dirty, unholy minds! Bonne Année!

Gail said...

Very amusing...and who knew Communion was such a minefield? One of mum's friends refuses to take Communion because the Rev uses the same chalice for everyone and wipes it each time. I suggested she should go to the "Meths" (Methodists) where they have a tray of tiny glasses, one for everyone!

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