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Heathen Heather

As part of my larger effort to try new things, today I decided to go to a service at an Anglican church! I was craving some sparkly robes, incense, Latin, and organ music, and heck, it was Easter. Marie served as my secret Catholic decoder ring, helping me figure out where I should go.

St. Mark Altar
St. Mark Altar

After much research, I ended up at The Parish of Saint Mark, located in a lovely part of northwest Portland, for the High Solemn Mass of the Feast of the Resurrection (translation: fancy service on Easter). I knew that I would have all the pomp and circumstance I could ever hope for, as I had attended once before, in 1996, when I was working on a show that had rented a room at the church for a performance space.

Seating myself as inconspicuously as I could and still maintain visibility, settling in and taking off my squeaky vinyl raincoat jump started my self-consciousness. Ten minutes before 10am, the room was dead quiet and mostly filled with silent elders. By the end of the service, the place was mostly filled with people of many age groups…and I had more similarly self-conscious heathens surrounding me.

There were sparkly uniforms. There were pointy hats. There was lots and lots of incense. There was stained glass. Romanesque architecture. Candles. A choir. A huge pipe organ with a magical spinny star whose purpose I didn’t understand, but enjoyed nonetheless. (Unfortunately, no Latin. I mean, with all those Latin church songs we learned in high school choir, I was really looking forward to showing off, reciting my Kyrie Eleison and Agnus Dei!)

Pipes with Spinny Star
Pipes with Spinny Star

About an hour and fifteen minutes into the two hour service, when the guys in the “H” and “Y” sparkly robes started doing stuff at the altar that I couldn’t see, I started getting antsy. My boredom was momentarily relieved during communion when I was still able to go to the altar to receive a blessing (ulterior motive: get a closer look at that architecture, and what they’re all playing with up there!). After that, though, I just kept thinking that it’s a tragedy that the pipe organ and choir are in the back because they’re far more interesting and I couldn’t get a good look at them; and oh-em-gee, this is a fun once-every-thirteen-years sort of thing, to come see Medieval High School Musical with the sparkly costumes and music, but if I had to come every week I would honestly die of boredom. I mean, c’mon people, hasn’t anyone thought of updating church services for the 21st century? Perhaps a little something like Clapton in Tommy?

After the service, everyone headed over to the parish hall, where there was a ton of food! (Aha! A *real* reason to come to church: to bake things for others, and for free food!) There, I saw a cake that reminded me of my favorite episode of The Simpsons, called “Lisa the Vegetarian:”

Please Lisaaaaa...Dont Eeeeeat Meeeee!
“Please Lisaaaaa…Don’t Eeeeeat Meeeee!”

During the service there was one choir piece that sounded rehearsed, despite the group not keeping their S-es in “Jesus” together (this makes it sound to a listener like “Jesus-s-s-s-s-s-s”). That having been said, listening to the choir and the awesome organ during this time was the only moment I felt even remotely spiritual during the service. Most of the time I was alternating between self-consciousness and being fascinated by the floor show.

But, it was a fun diversion. Perhaps next week I’ll go to temple!



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