Today's mass was the "Mass That Almost Didn't Happen." I've been having a hard time trying to figure out when to go to Mass. Sundays are kind of busy around here. In addition to my WW meeting, I have all the preparation stuff for the week ahead: shopping, cooking prep, classes prep, homeschooling prep. I pondered giving up WW which would save us money plus free up time on Sunday. BUT I came to my senses. WW is the only thing that seems to keep me eating healthy and losing weight. After my return to sanity, I considered trying another meeting but I really LOVE my new WW leader. Anyone who has ever done WW knows how hard it is to find a good leader. I nixed that idea. I checked out the other mass times hoping for some that weren't on Sundays. There are vigils on Saturday evening but I have no idea what is the difference between a vigil and a normal mass. A vigil seems like it might be more...solemn? Not the kind of thing to which one wants to bring four heathen children. There was a five o'clock mass though, and while I thought it might not have many families, I decided to try it and see how it panned out.
Everything went according to plan. I went to WW. I came home and ate. Then it started to fall apart. R refused to take a nap. H took Piper out for some one on one time and was late. I was kind of frazzled when he showed up. I hate being late. I was exhausted and R was being difficult. I said "Forget it. We'll never make it in time." H insisted that we try to make it. I kind of grumpily agreed as we needed to go shopping in that area anyway. As we were driving downtown, I felt so irritated and angry. It didn't seem like the best attitude to start my experience. I figured we weren't going to make it anyway so there was no point in trying to jolly myself out of it.
But we got there in time, and there were people coming in after us. R who had been sleeping woke right up. She seemed content though to check the church out and flirt with the African couple behind us. I was checking things out as well. Okay I was checking out the people. If this was the church we were going to be attending, I wanted to make sure it was a good fit. There were a few families there with children (some even louder than mine). We were again the biggest family. There were a lot of youngish people....single, in their twenties. People were dressed modestly but there were several people in jeans. There was also a fair amount of diversity. I felt comfortable (except I'm dumb and didn't know how to cross myself when I entered or dip my fingers in the holy water, or curtsy at the altar).
And then the mass started and it wasn't long before I knew this was it. I can't explain what happened but there was an experience. Again it wasn't the hand from heaven but it was more dramatic than I anticipated. The singing, the incense, the procession to the altar were beautiful. The ritualistic gestures over the communion spoke of a continuity that set the mass a bit out of time. The homily was smart, timely, and poignant. I found myself near tears a couple of times. Staring at the reliefs of Christ on the cross moved me deeply. It stirred something in me. Something that I didn't think could ever be stirred again. It was a quiet experience however and I never felt like I was being knocked flat. It was just again that feeling of coming home.
There was something genuine in the experience that I have found lacking in other religious things I have tried of late. When I tried to do Neopaganism again, I felt like I was playing at something. I know for many that experience is valid and I have no issues with this but for me it didn't feel real. This felt real and comfortable. I don't feel like there was some great change in me but rather that I was satisfying something that had long been neglected. It was a feeling that I was just augmenting myself.
After writing so much on an academic level about conversion I am finding myself feeling sort of odd about my own conversion. I recognize the elements that are common across conversion stories in my own story. But there is still this part of me that cries out "This is mine! It is real. It is true." And it resists an over analysis so I feel like right now my posts about this are fuzzy and incoherent and mundane. I hope that as the days pass I can process this a bit more and explain more clearly what happened.