Thursday, July 1, 2010

Church Giggles

Want to hear one of my favorite memories from church? (When I went to church, that is.) Here we go:

My mom is a religious woman. As a result, my brother and I went to church every Sunday for 18 years. One summer, our church was getting new wood floors installed, so we held our Sunday services in the basement. The basement door was wide open for anyone to come in, because the church we attended wanted anyone and everyone to stop in.

One Sunday, a homeless man shuffled into the basement and settled himself in the pew behind my mother, my brother, and me. (Just an aside, my brother and I were about 16 and 17 at this point.) We always sat near the back, so there wasn't anyone else around us. The man kept falling asleep during the service, and we could hear him snoring behind us. This didn't really bother us, though. In fact, we felt pretty bad for him.

This particular Sunday happened to be communion. Perhaps you are not familiar with communion, so let me explain it to you. At least, let me explain how my church practiced communion. (Because it varies from church to church.) Our preacher would hold the loaf of bread, and one of the older church members would hold the cup of juice (we used grape juice instead of wine) and the congregation would form a line in front of them. We would go up one by one as the preacher would tear us off a piece of bread, tell us, "This is the body of Christ given to you. Eat this in remembrance of him," and we'd bow our head and move over to the cup where the member would say, "This is the blood of Christ shed for you. Drink this in remembrance of him," and then we would dip our piece of bread in the juice, and then walk over to the prayer benches. There, you would pray and ask for forgiveness for the sins you had committed since last communion and you would promise God that you would do your best to not sin anymore.

So, anway, this whole process would be a little cramped in the basement, so instead of the prayer benches, we would go back to our pew to pray. We had a different preacher that Sunday because our regular preacher had business elsewhere. This substitute preacher did not tear off a piece of bread for us, but instead held out the loaf to us so we would tear off our own piece of bread. (Unsanitary, I know.) My brother was in front of me in line, and I saw him try to tear off a piece of bread, and he ended up breaking off the tiniest little crumb. I could tell just by looking at him that he wasn't sure what to do. He hesitated there for a moment, not sure if he should break off a bigger piece or just continue on his way to the cup. It was like I could see the thoughts in his brain. He decided to move onto the cup, and when I saw him try to dip that tiny little crumb into the cup, I almost lost it.

Church giggles are really hard to suppress. Harder than any other giggle. And I was trying really hard not to laugh out loud. And when we walked back to our pew together, we both could not stop giggling about it. We were both sitting there with our shoulders shaking, trying really hard not to laugh out loud. My mom slid into the pew and ask-whispered why we were laughing. We managed to tell her in between fits what had happened. She shook her head and started to giggle, too.

But this was when the homeless man behind us woke up and heard/saw us laughing. He leaned over to us and said, "Stop laughing at me." Teddy and I both looked at each other with the most bewildered looks on our faces, and then turned around in the pew to look at him. The homeless man got even more upset. He got louder, "Don't look at me! Turn around!" My mom said hurriedly, "Don't look at him! Don't look at him, kids. Turn around!" Teddy and I both turned around, but Teddy and I could not control ourselves. We started laughing even harder. The homeless man kept on telling us to stop laughing. My mom got really worried, and she told him, "Oh, no. They're not laughing at you. You see, my son got a really tiny piece of bread at communion and he had trouble dipping it into the cup and they're laughing about that." And hearing my mom trying to explain the situation to him only made us laugh more. This was when he started pounding his fist and saying, "I don't like people laughing at me!" and he was eyeing my brother as if he were going to fight him.

Luckily, church ended within the next minute or so, and my mom told us we needed to go home, because we still could not contain ourselves. To this day, every once in a while, one of us will point at the other and say, "Don't look at me! Turn around! I don't like people laughing at me!" and we will all start busting up. giggles.

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