490 Words Plus A Sentence, AND One More To Boot.

I think I’m missing an assignment, but the Prof promised me extra credit, as long as I really “brought it” this week.

Damn. I could’ve used that extra credit…

Anywho, this week’s Master Class 2013 assignment had a bit of a switch in it, in that the prompt came from a song instead of a work of literature; to be used at the end of the submission. As such, and after reading the prompt, I decided to put one more switch into place, and also included a lyric at the beginning. One that was prompted by the prompt. Make sense?

Probably not. Regardless, I hope you enjoy, and invite you to please click on the MC2013 link above, in order to join in on the fun! You know you wanna…

storch-badge

I’m standing in a line with a dirty mind. Clean it up on Sunday morning.

Yeah, yeah. Gotta go to Big God’s house today. Better clean up. Hide everything… get all the “stuff” put away. Yeah. He’ll never see it up there, tucked way away in the corner of my filthy little mind. All the things I want, all the things I crave. All the things I need, all the things I think would fulfill me. All the things that He said I can’t have, after He created them. Yeah, grab all that shit and hide it away.

Yeah. Put all that shit away. Just put it away, boy-O. No one, but no one, needs to know about all that. They don’t wanna know that you like it a little rough sometimes. No. Just sit there looking pretty. They don’t need to know that your first time wasn’t with the right sex. Oh, hell no! Just sit there with your eyes glued to the pulpit. They don’t wanna hear that you sometimes wish you could dress out here, the way that you dress behind closed doors. They don’t wanna know. They can’t bear to know the person that God made ya to be. They can’t stomach knowing how often you wanna share your love, and with how many different types you wanna share it. No. That would disgust them. They only wanna see the pin-striped, straight-jacketed version of the body that you deny weekly, all in an effort to appease them and their rules. To appease Him. Yeah. That’s what they want. That’s what He wants. Why’d He make you otherwise? Who knows? Cross-to-bear shit, I would imagine.

It don’t matter much. It’s His game, not mine. And every drop of sunshine he lets in, just confuses me more. I mean, why’d He give me these glimpses of happiness, only to have His tool of a shepherd-man tell me it’s all wrong, raining on the very parade He started? Gotta be cross-to-bear shit, man. Gotta be.

So you go on denying. You go on pretending that it’s girls you like, and white lace, and picket fences in the moonlight. You make sure you rough up your brows, just so no one notices that they look a little too nice otherwise. You keep grinning with that same stupid-ass grin you slather on your face every Sunday morning. The same stupid-ass grin your daddy slathered on his face before you. You grin it, and you ignore every last nerve inside of you, screaming to God for freedom in a world that He created, and then gave over to the power-hungry, the homophobes and the pricks.

I mean, why not, right? Cross-to-bear shit, man, cross-to-bear. Besides, it ain’t gonna rain unless it pours anyway. Until then, there’ll be no sun, and no rain. Just constant and oppressive pin-striped straight-jacketed grey. So what’s the point? Like daddy used to spit out through his stupid ass grin, well before the day he blew out his denial-doused brains, “No umbrellas, no sunglasses, hell and hallelujah everyday,” right?

•••

This week’s prompt came from Incubus’ “If Not Now, When?” and the subsequent prompt to the prompt came from The Bolshoi’s “Sunday Morning.” That’s right kids, that means it’s a double song day bonus!

10/12 an unabashed love letter to the people of Saint Ann’s

Its two main steeples reach majestically into the sun-filled Buffalo sky. Well, actually that’s not entirely true, seeing as its two main steeples are no longer there. And haven’t been for quite sometime – lost somewhere along the way from some previous snow-filled Buffalo sky, i’ve been told. So the final effect is that somewhat of a decapitated house of worship, one that begrudgingly admits its shortcoming, but still refuses to fall.

The steeples haven’t been replaced simply because this particular church happens to reside in inner Buffalo, a down-trodden area that hasn’t seen anything even remotely resembling wealth in many a year now. And while the Roman Catholic Church talks a pretty good game about feeding its flock, apparently it walks a much better game in neighborhoods where the flock is pretty well-fed already. Which is sad, considering the diet of this particular flock – but more on that later.

Upon entering the church, you see a past glory, slowly crumbling under the grip of time and weather. While most of the ceiling remains intact – in glorious hues of blue, gold and salmon – in other areas massive bubbles are visible through the paint where previously, rain water on the exterior side lead a recon mission through cracks in the building’s defenses towards the inside. In other areas, the rain was wholly successful in its mission and whatever section of ceiling used to be there is now totally absent, save the wooden skeleton of the roof proper. The myriad of statues throughout the building are mostly looking skyward, but whereas i’m sure the original intent was to show these saints as being “heaven-bound”, in its current condition, they look much more like worried home owners waiting for the roof to cave in. As to the accoutrements, easily half a forest was lost in the construction of the various wooden latticework, railings, doorways, crucifixes and pulpit – never mind the ornate and almost inhabitable central sanctuary at the back of the altar. All carved with intricate expertise, and for now, all safe from the weather. And while children may be prone to scratch their names into pews elsewhere, in this building every one of them seem to be safe from such juvenile branding activities. The floor is a combination of hard wood and ratty carpet – the orange variety that everyone in the seventies felt was all the rage. Fortunately, the carpet is so worn down as to now look far more “historical” than “dated”. Unfortunately, the carpet is so worn down as to look like it belongs to a long-dead building, instead of a living one.

So all said, a church that used to be mighty, glorious – and possibly even a bit arrogant – now sits humbled by time, neglect, suburban sprawl, and a religious hierarchy that sometimes finds it hard to practice exactly what it preaches so loudly to others. But just before you call the wrecking ball and start digging a grave for this once impressive monolith, let’s take another look, seeing as mass has now started…

The choir is small, unorganized and not very well trained. Many of them seem to have never used a microphone before and others simply ignore its existence altogether. They are a mixture of race, age and sex, all led by a doddering old man at a tiny electric keyboard, and when all is said and done – they sing like angels. With sincerity, with faith, and with communion. The congregation is likewise small, especially when considering how large the building is, and much like the choir, a blend of age, sex and race. In fact, to look at them objectively, you wouldn’t see too much that these people would have in common with each other in their daily lives – and maybe they don’t. But when they come together here, they become “One” – again – with sincerity and faith. During the Lord’s Prayer, the entire group becomes part of one long web, strewn throughout the church, with only the very first upheld hand in the line and the very last not being grasped by another. And at the “sign of peace”, it would almost appear to be much more a game of musical chairs than it would a simple gesture of good will. The entire process can take up to five minutes (quite a long time by Roman Catholic standards) and no person is left unnoticed, no extended hand left untouched. It’s the type of environment that would drive someone who suffers from mysophobia simply mad. It would also put a kink in the armor of anyone who happens to be racist or judges others based solely on their appearance as well. In this place, however, faith overrides all of that. And it’s not something that is sleeve-worn or in your face. Nor is it something that you must accept upon entering, or take with you when you leave. It’s not even something that is spoken. It just IS. It’s visible, tangible, breathable even. This small group of individuals create a force so strong that it can not only be felt, but it actually invades your own senses as well.

Heaven bound...

Now, lest someone think that this will become a slippery slope as to my trying to prove one faith superior to another, let me be clear that this is not the intent of this post. And it’s not the intent of the congregation either, i don’t believe. And maybe that is why they can create a force so strong that it almost hugs you upon entering into it. They seem to be focused only on their faith and on each other. It would appear that they have no real desire to shove their beliefs down the throats of others, but you’re more than welcome to join in if you’d like (to clarify an earlier statement, they are very cognizant of possible mysophobia sufferers and don’t grab for hands unextended). It is also clear that instead of focusing on any misperceived superiority towards the faith – or lack thereof – of others, they are focusing only on theirs alone. And when “Mother Church” held back its wallet, these parishioners – many of whom can ill-afford it – started to self-fund the church just so that they could keep it’s steeple-less doors open.

In short, they’re good people, who are quietly living their own faith – for themselves and their God alone. They have found their community, their purpose and their home, resulting in their spirits being well-fed and contented. Not because of some outside benevolence, but as a result of their own hard work. They have a living Strength within a dying building. One that is refreshing to see, and i just thought you might like to know that pockets of humanity like this still exist.  i also think it would be very nice indeed if a whole lot more of us could live the same.