The boarding school chapel was stifling with the heat of the first day of Spring. Dr. Lee’s sermon, as always, was an opiate rather than a stimulant, calling forth daydreams instead of resolution. Much as we loved him, we were only teen-aged girls, and not yet able to share his dedication.
As I sat mentally lolling, my thoughts progressed backward over my years of religious training. I had grown up in a non-church-going family, with an agnostic father and a mother who did not practice what she professed. Although I was given my religious training by my father, I was always encouraged to go to any church I chose. That was how I came to be sitting in the chapel of an Episcopal boarding school, and how my thoughts happened to turn back to another occasion nine years before.
That first occasion—the one I remembered while Dr. Lee was “sermonizing”-- came to mind for no particular reason that I could think of except that there were similarities between that day and the present situation. My closest friend had asked me to go to church with her at the Presbyterian Church. I was delighted to have a social occcasion to take part in, and this was especially exciting because we were both 10 years old—old enough to go to the main service like grown-ups.
Churches fascinated me, especially since I went to them so seldom, and I loved comparing them. My friend’s church was much plainer than the Episcopal Church at home, and the service was not as mysterious. The minister stood on a platform behind a sort of lectern, but there were no lovely windows to look at, no beautiful altar as at Mother’s church.
I was slumped rather dejectedly in the pew, wishing that I were at home, when down the aisle came two beautiful silver trays, one with crackers, and the other with small glasses of wine. Suddenly the occasion seemed worthwhile. “Ah,” I thought, “refreshments! And it isn’t even Christmas!”
I straightened up on the hard bench, took a fistful of crackers, and two glasses of wine (because they were small), leaned comfortably back on the bench, and ate lunch.
That was all. It was just another pleasant occasion of the type that is soon forgotten. It had not become a memory until the day nine years later when I sat in the boarding school chapel.
“Whatever is the matter with you?” whispered my roommate as Dr. Lee ended his sermon. “Your face is as red as a beet!”
When I was able to muster enough control over myself to answer, I croaked, “I just realized that I already celebrated my First Communion nine years ago!”