Someone brought a dog to church yesterday. I'm still shaking my head.
There was a baptism being held of a biggish baby boy - you know, a baby, but not exactly a newborn - and the proud parents had assembled enough supportive family to fill three pews at the front of the church. There were two sets of grandparents, although the Grandmas sat separately from the Grandpas; a Godmother, clearly a sibling of the baby's mother, dressed appropriately for the occasion in a dress that barely cleared her rear end; a pair of preschool-aged twin boys, brothers to said baby, busily playing on their iPads; a cute little girl, sitting with Grandma, who I'm guessing belonged to Miss Hot Godmother; and in pew number three, Lucky the Labrador. The woman who brought Lucky looked to be a sibling of one of the baby's parents, but as the adults of this family did not so much as look at each other throughout the entire baptismal experience, it's hard to say who was connected to whom. And to be clear, Lucky was not a dog with a job to do. He was just big, yellow shaggy animal trying to get comfortable on the floor inside pew number three.
Religion is not a subject I talk about with ease. Case in point, I've never before mentioned here that I regularly attend church. I struggle with faith as I imagine most people do. After fitfully exploring other denominations in my twenties and thirties, I returned to the one I was raised in and I am doing the best I can to help the Tornadoes form a foundation in it. I believe it's important for them to have, so that when they get done flopping around in the narcissistic, spiritually bereft cesspool of American youth, they will have a reference point for figuring out what's next. Also, I find that I like the practice of my faith, much in the way I like working out and writing: I like having done it. Not so much having 4:00 Mass looming ahead of me on a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon. But around 5:15, I feel pretty good.
So I'm not perfect, and I try not to judge. But this family, with the biggish baby boy? Oh, Lordy. As it turned out, Lucky was the best behaved of the bunch. I really tried not to stare, as I'm sure most everyone else tried not to, either (except for a couple of old ladies who were just not having it. They stared with every ounce of their nun-raised indignation, dear things). I tried not to stare when the twin boys paraded up with their family to the baptismal font with their iPads in hand; when one of them, grown bored with his baby brother's ceremony after ninety seconds, parked his butt on the steps of the altar and played his game for the crowd; when Lucky was walked outside to do his business just as the collection basket approached his owner. I tried to avert my eyes when Bored Twin began beating on the pew with the cardboard box from his brother's candle. It was a little harder to not see him dodging his mother with a smirk on his face as she tried to grab the front of his shirt. Then he ran down the center aisle and out the door with this mother in pursuit, so, you know. We all got back to business.
Lucky returned in time for Communion, but the concept seemed to baffle the entire family. I'm not sure any of them had ever actually been to church before. Which is fine, but begs the question: why are you here now? After some fidgeting and individual contemplation (like I said, zero interaction the entire time), a few of them chose to belatedly participate. Namely, Hot Godmother and her offspring. They cut the line in different places. Hot Godmother did not wish to wait the extra second for her morsel of bread to be placed in her hand and instead snatched it from the woman's approaching fingers. Her daughter, upon not finding this filling enough, returned to her seat and produced a large, noisy bag of snacks which kept us all occupied for the remainder of the service.
I think those old ladies would have liked to offer their congratulations to the parents afterwards. Unfortunately, the whole hot mess practically ran to their cars. Their three separate cars. Parked very far away from each other. What else can I say? I'm guessing there was no after party for that baby boy. On a positive note, I can now check "seeing a dog in church" off my list.