Today was a bit unusual. You see I am not a religious person, in fact have only been to a handful of churches and they were when I was a child because I was with a friend. In the United States it seems almost everyone is religious or at least was brought up going to church. Me on the other hand… I have NO IDEA what any of this is about! I do not know how to behave in a church, I do not know what they do in a church, and I do not understand all the strange rituals at all. With this being said I am a fiercely curious little thing and when I kept hearing rumors about this one church in particular my ears perked up. There’s a cute little church out here who has been defamed by locals who say Satanists practice there, or that it’s witchcraft, or they’re just weird people. Now, I know this is how God-fearing Christians describe anything they do not understand, mostly because I’ve been demonized and shunned for being “too worldly” myself (and in a hilarious side note this was before I got to see the world. Oh boy!) I knew something had to be up with this… so I went to investigate… and attend Sunday services…
Right off the bat this place had me chuckling at its hours: 1-3PM. Perfect for all the night owls out there who think that 8AM mass is surely God playing a fast one. This allowed me time to amble around Rietta Ranch, which is maybe three minutes away, beforehand. Rietta Ranch is one of my favorite places. It’s a HUGE flea market, the largest in New England and it’s always bustling. As luck would have it they had just opened a few weekends previously and I felt this was a happy diversion. Sadly it was a somewhat chilly day, and threatening to rain, and in addition to this it was 11AM which means everyone was packing up to leave. The market is supposed to be open until sundown but that changed to, “whenever the crowd leaves” and since most flea marketers are hardcore morning people this generally means everyone is packing up or gone around noon. Suffice to say that the vast majority of the 650 tables were empty by the time I got there. Still I meandered around. Sometimes I go with something in mind but most of the time I just roll with the punches. This time around the theme of the day seemed to be vinyls, knives, and cheap costume jewelry, all of which had their allure… Since I left my Vinyl collection behind at the last place I do need to rebuild all its classic rock and folk goodness but I’m already way tight on cash this month so I just browsed. The costume jewelry made me think of many friends who could rip them apart and make something prettier out of them at the right price and the knives… well I am not sure what was up with the rows upon rows of various hunting style knives. Maybe it was serial killer day. Who knows. I kept finding things I could steam punk the crap out of something with – giant cast iron keys, random metal pipes, rusty old tools, you name it. If I had the money and the space this would have been more fun and productive than going to Micheals. Oh the blasphemy! I forgot my camera and marbles so I snapped a few terrible photos with my half-dead cell phone camera. Love the rusty trunk!
After Rietta I went to the Church in the Wyldewoods. I must say – adorable wee church! From the outside anyway. I tentatively walked in… and the insides were…. confused. This place had the strangest architecture I have ever seen in a church. It looked like something between a tiny medieval castle and something you’d find in a German village from 400 years ago… There was a lot of dark posts and beams, sharp angles, and triangles which included something that looked like a jagged armament above the little room off the pulpit. The windows were also triangular with dark cross hatches throughout. Whoever planned this place must not have known much about psychology. This was not welcoming. No wonder people were muttering shit about Satanists. With that being said I still found it adorable but my idea of “adorable” includes the alien from the Alien movies and baby Cthulhu…
As it turns out there were no Satanists here, nor witches. There was however two depictions of Jesus, one over the alter which I am sure you are all familiar with – you know, Jesus that guy from Oxford, as Eddie Izzard puts it. That one. I wonder if this was just to ease people coming in… since otherwise this place didn’t seem overtly Christian. The services began pretty normal with hymns… the first of which was The Church in the Wild Woods, which was truly utterly and seriously adorable. It didn’t have any mentions of God or anything strange, it was just this rambling little story about a ramshackle church in the middle of nowhere. Really sweet. I mouthed it – and all the other hymns because I don’t know the tunes to any of them and it’s at this point I also realized I didn’t remember how to read sheet music either. It felt like the words were just dancing around the page and skipping to and fro. Took me a while to figure it out. This was the first hint I may not be a church goer. The second hint would be the fact I found the hymns to be amusing (as I don’t think a single key was hit correctly by anyone – and God bless them for trying!) and it creeped me out. Isn’t singing what cults do? I don’t know… I found the whole thing very weird but only because religion itself is weird to me. Besides this I felt like a fumbling idiot because besides not being able to read the hymns I couldn’t find them either. Was there an index? Were they memorized? Or was the number the preacher was saying somehow relevant? Do I look up the title to the song or Hymn #22? Do all hymns have titles? Jethro Tull does a song called Hymn 43…. Great song, just don’t listen too hard to the lyrics.
After the singing stopped there was a “healing” and people wandered up and sat in one of two chairs where they sat quietly and had one of two women “heal” them by placing their hands over them (reiki? I don’t know…) I also have no idea what they were healing – physical or spiritual ailments? I was starting to be a smidge uncomfortable because of how lost I was. This is so not my element and I had come totally alone this time.
After this there were more hymns and then the speaker went up to deliver the sermon. She gave us all a feather first. I smiled, politely accepted the feather, and wondered if I should know what the hell this was about. She then began with her sermon, Signs from God. Did you know if you find a feather it’s because there’s an angel near by? This is news to me, I thought this meant there was a bird nearby… Or are angels and birds one in the same? One winged thing is much like the next, sometimes I can’t tell the difference either. She went on about how songs on the radio, the smell of cigar smoke, the sight of something beloved can all be signs from the deceased. Nothing too odd about that except it seemed to be stretching to say when a song gets stuck in your head it’s for a reason. The songs I get stuck in my head are far from profound. The last one was just one line, gleefully put, “I’m in love with a narcissist!”
Sometimes I do feel like I get signs but most of the time my cynical nature is no, that’s just a damn feather, stop waxing methodical. And as far as looking for signs in the clouds… Oh I look for things in the clouds all the time, not because I think there’s something profound up to be divined. I just think it’s amusing when I can squint my eyes and see a duck smoking a cigar. I mean if everything she said really was a sign that must mean her life is seriously crowded with dead people. Then I started to wonder what I would do if I were dead and trying to send a message. What message would it be and to whom? I immediately decided it wouldn’t be anything profound – no “I’m OK” messages sent to grieving loved one. More likely I’d visit anyone going to a medium and send “messages” that make no sense at all. “I’m getting an image of a frog wearing pants? Does this mean something to you?” “No….” And I would laugh and laugh.
Funny I should mention mediums because this church was a spiritualist church – they believed in talking to dead people. I wondered if this would come up somehow. After the sermon we were led into more hymns. I realized that although I have heard Amazing Grace about thirty billion times I only knew the first line – probably because this is how long it takes me to find the remote and change the channel whenever it’s on some sappy commercial. Singing it now I realized the lyrics were…. weird. Grace gave you fear? Huh? How?! And is Grace a person? Because that’s the only way that line makes any sense. And as a child I was followed by Grace the door slamming ghost sooo… anything is within the realm of possibility. Then they collected donations… in envelopes. I was expecting a basket to be handed around, where were they getting the envelopes and why?? And oh shit, here’s the basket, sorry… no donation from me because I’m confused. This is exactly what I mean by being out of my element and not knowing how to act or what to do. That was about to be compounded once again as they all headed into meditation.
I don’t meditate, especially not publically, because that state of mind does really odd things for me. The only other time I publically meditated was at a past life regression — and my spirit guide ended up being a snarky bright red Chinese dragon who tore off a mask and reveled himself to be…. a bright red European dragon. See what I mean here? I don’t need to drink the Kool-Aid or down the mushrooms, my mind is already lost. Funny enough this meditation was to meet our guardian angel.
“Imagine a thick gray fog and through it you see an angel!” My mind was apparently bored by this idea so instead I saw a whale. A big super ugly whale. “Imagine they are getting close to you! Close and closer! So close!” The whale transported super close to me until all I could see was it’s big wart covered eye. I’m not sure what the point of that exercise was… Though I am thinking my guardian spirit might just be a smart ass, if he’s real at all, which I can’t say I truly believe.
This next part of the service involved the dead. From here two mediums did public readings on everyone here. I was the third person up. I smiled, thinking about a gnome in bright red rubber boots (an image I think I’d give to a medium if I were on the other side, no reason.) She told me a petite spitfire of a woman with short slightly curled dyed red or auburn hair was here for me. I figured maybe my aunt. She died when I was five. I don’t remember what she looked like but I do remember right before she died she dyed her hair this ghastly red that looked horrible on her, or so was the opinion of this five year old. She told me this woman was happy for me because I was working really hard towards something and she said she was really rooting for me but that I shouldn’t allow myself to be tread upon. Apparently this was offensive to her. I should stand up more for myself. Ehhhh, I think lately I have been doing that better than at any other point in my life. I just don’t expend negative energy unless I have to. This might be construed as being tread upon, I don’t know. I took this “message” with a grain of salt but smiled and nodded. I found it curious this was the same message I got during yesterday’s adventure when I decided to have my tarot cards read…
After this we ambled downstairs and I ate a slice of carrot cake while pretending I wasn’t there just for carrot cake. I was and wasn’t. The church part was a lot for me to do, socializing afterwards…. yeah, that’s putting me so far out of my comfort zone I don’t think I would have ever even tried before today but the people were sweet and the carrot cake was nice. I was damned hungry. Haven’t been eating for a host of reasons so I was starving. And of course the frosting hit my stomach like I’d swallowed rocks but I ate it anyway! And smiled, and said hello, and tried to be friendly but it’s hard. I am at a weird junction in my life where I can’t answer any normal question in any simple way. “So where do you work?” “Uhhhhh… I am trying to be a freelance writer?” It’s not a complete lie…. I do have this blog…. but answering, “I am trying to found my own educational farm through crowdsourcing” would be more accurate. That is a mouthful though. I sat and listened to the conversations around me. I tried not to laugh as the elderly gay gentleman next to me tried to see if anyone remembered Dorothy. The punderful ramifications of that were almost too much to bear. I stopped smiling when I heard another conversation about war crimes and being skinned alive. Yup, shit just got dark in here. I finished my cake and tried to slip out unnoticed but I have lost my ninja-like talent for this and didn’t succeed without saying an all too public good bye to everyone.