In the pew in front of me a white lap dog lay at its owner’s feet as the Reverend proceeded up the aisle, flanked by a choir of two Nigerian men. My period of absence from Church had been sufficient to make the experience of a service yesterday morning a little surreal. Of course, I recognised the hymns and some of the readings but uncanny for me was the order of ritual, which unfolded like scenes from a play. The regular congregation performed their responses perfectly and they sat and stood almost before their cue.
It got me thinking about sacred spaces and how I revere them, in spite of my private apprehension of gathering with a group of people in a space reserved for those with a similar belief. It’s more than a respect for the liturgy that those quiet churchgoers have: it’s a respect for the institution.
Religion is not the institution for me but I feel I would benefit from further schooling in reverence. In fact, even when you remove all traces of God you stumble into the most awe-inspiring of places.
Today I bought a delightful dress in the Irish Cancer Society Charity shop on the Rathmines Road. I knew I had encountered the Devil of Temptation as soon as I saw the retro white -laced collar. The colours weren’t quite ‘me’ and it was a bit too big. But not even the unflattering mirrors and harsh lighting could conceal the fact that the garment itself was enchanting and that the retro white- laced collar fell around the neck like petals on a flower.
I bought it for €8, at LSB’s encouragement. It was a minute after 5 pm when I left the store. One of the cashiers was locking up as the other closed the tills. They were both elderly, cordial, wispy-haired. And I thought: they do this every day. They do this for a cause outside of their own gain. LSB and I crossed over to browse the book sections in Barnardos and Oxfam. In the latter, a lady was polishing dust off a framed picture, which she then returned gingerly to the display shelf. And for that, I revered her.