Tag Archives: church

Happy Easter?

Photo by the talented photographer Caiti Borruso.

I was sound asleep when she started prodding me.

“Hey,” she said quietly, then “Hey!”

I opened by eyes to notice it was still a bit dark outside.

“What? What’s going on?”

“Happy Easter! Want to go to church with me?”

I turned to her and saw she had a cute little yellow dress on.

“How about we stay in bed?” I asked with one eyebrow raised.

“I said church! How can you reply with sex?”

I rolled back over. “No church for me. You should know that by now.”

She sighed and started playing with my hair.

I pretended to be asleep.

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Meeting God (if There is One)

I walked into the abandoned building on a routine assignment for photography class and halted, my chucks pushing a small pile of old candy wrappers and beer cans. I’d never seen anything like this place. Perhaps once, when I was in Notre Dame Cathedral when someone had left a window open and the sun shone through it in just the right way. But this was different.

That day in Paris, even though I didn’t believe in God, I couldn’t help but feel like He was trying to send me some sort of message. But that was in a church and it was nowhere near as beautiful as this antiquated, unused building that witnessed the ravages of time and disuse.

Yes, I was surrounded by garbage, an overflowing dumpster and all kinds of junk. The building was collapsing, and I hadn’t been charged a certain number of Euros or queued in an hour-long line to get in. The bright light wasn’t pouring in through a stained glass window that was in itself a work of art; here it spilled in via the surrendered ceiling in an abandoned building that probably should have been condemned years ago.

Part of the roof hung down by a girder. A breeze made it swing slightly and a creaking sound emitted from it, echoing off the emptiness. Rain had rusted the metal bars on the windows and the reddish-brown color spilled down the whitewashed walls of the what was probably an old warehouse. This was no Notre Dame, and yet it was more beautiful to me than anything I had ever witnessed before.

I snapped off a few shots and looked at the camera’s screen. The rays of sun bounced off the dusty air to create the illusion of substance. The light, so bright, washed out the image just a bit and created that feeling I had in my gut that, if there was a God, He was right there with me. Even the trash looked beautiful as it was washed with the bright illumination of our planet’s lightgiver.

I snapped off a few more shots and then the room dimmed a bit as a cluster of clouds must have passed overhead. My sigh reverberated through the room, hiding the creaking of the dangling ceiling, and as I walked out the echoed shuffling of my chucks followed.

Top photograph by Manon, whose blog can be found here.

Notre Dame photograph by me.

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned From 80s Cartoons

Dennis Finocchiaro is the author of a few novels and loves everything 80s.

 

“Everything I needed to learn about being a good person I learned from 80s cartoons.”

“Really,” she responded with obvious dubiousness, one eyebrow raised and a sly grin on her face.

“Sure. G.I. Joe taught me to resolve my arguments with peace. And not to talk to strangers. And any other number of lessons. They had public service announcements after each episode. I learned from Slimer and the Ninja Turtles, Mickey Mouse and everyone else to say no to drugs thanks to Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue. I learned to treat my family right and to be good to people in general thanks to the television shows I watched.”

“Smurfs?”

“Of course! They were the kindest most congenial beings ever created. I can’t even watch them now…they’re so pure. It makes me sick.”

She laughed. “Okay what about He-Man? What could you possibly learn from him?”

“Are you kidding? Orko always caused some sort of trouble that I learned from. Don’t eavesdrop, don’t meddle, etc. That show had lessons after it just like G.I. Joe.”

“Okay, what about your precious Transformers? What could you possibly learn from them?”

“Seriously? They taught me the importance of doing the right thing, being a good guy instead of a Decepticon. Come on. Optimus Prime showed wisdom in every choice he made. I learned what a great leader possesses.”

She shook her head. “You’re ridiculous. Bugs Bunny?”

“That wasn’t 1980s, although I did watch it.”

“So what did you learn?”

“Not to fuck with a road runner? I dunno. That technically was the 70s and doesn’t count. The 80s were all about purity. Learning lessons. Being a good person. If I didn’t know better, I would think Humanists were running children’s programming.”

“Snorks? Centurions? Biskits? Shirt Tales?”

“Are you kidding me? You have got to be kidding. Snorks were practically an offshoot of Smurfs. Same comments apply. And the others? Trust me, every 80s cartoon was about teaching kids right from wrong.”

She looked at me across the table with pure seriousness.

“So you’re saying you don’t think kids need to go to church, so long as they watch 80s cartoons?”

“Exactly.

Dreams From Italy

I dreamt of Italy last night.

I was there on a family vacation, but somehow spending a day alone.  I ended up lost in a small town, alone, wandering and trying to figure out how I’d gone so far off the beaten trail.

And that was when I met her, this beautiful woman in a magical world, and she walked right up to me as if she’d known me forever.

“You’re the one I am supposed to marry,” she said, in very good English, considering.

“I am?”

“Yes, you are.  I have dreamt of you every night since I was a young girl.  Everything I did led me to this moment, to you.  I have been waiting here a long time for you.”

I looked at her in disbelief, looked around to see if I was being mugged by gypsies, but when I returned my gaze to her she took my face between her hands and forced me to look into her wide, beautiful brown eyes, and I saw an innocence in them that told me she was telling the truth.

I had finally found her.

She took my hand and led me to a huge festival, a carnival-like atmosphere where the town seemed to be celebrating something.  She brought me through crowds, so many of the elders smiling at us, as she locked her arm into mine, as if they also knew I would someday arrive and marry her.  Young girls followed behind us, giggling and pointing us out to others, who also started to follow, as she brought me to a large table with about thirty people seated.  She said something in Italian I couldn’t understand, and everyone stopped talking and looked up at me.  They looked serious at first, and then slowly smiles took over their faces, and the men started jumping out of their seats and running to me, clapping me on the back.  Older women hugged me and kissed my cheeks, and eventually I found myself separated from my new love, surrounded by her family.

And elderly woman, wrinkles that seemed older than me covering her face, hobbled up.  She was so thin a hug would break her, and she beckoned me closer; I had to bend down to hear her, and even then someone had to translate for me.  She spoke slowly and deliberately, as if this would be her last speech.  A younger boy translated for me.

“It is custom for a new man to find his woman.  She has run off.  You must find her if you wish to marry her.”

“Why?” I asked.

The boy translated for me, and the old woman frowned and responded.

“It is our town’s custom and it has been this way for hundreds of years.  That is why,” he told me.

And so I left and wandered around the carnival for a while, suddenly compelled to leave it and wander a dark road.  I’m not sure what drove me in the direction I chose, whether it was confusion or the love I found for this new woman leading me to her.  I stayed on the road for a bit and when I saw a bus stopped in front of a large, ancient church, I turned towards the building to look around.  It was full of people who traveled a long way just to see this place, and as I walked towards it I stepped through many small, glass jars that littered the ground.  I looked down to find the grass, the path, and all of the land covered with little jars and lids.

I bent down and picked one up, examining the substance that once filled it.  I could tell it was some sort of jelly or preserve, and I stuck my finger in and took out a tiny bit of it, tasting it.  It was delicious.  I placed this jar back on the ground and started towards the building, seeing a line of people waiting to get in.

As I approached the line, an Italian who seemed in charge beckoned me towards the front as if he knew me, and waved me in past everyone.  Nobody gave me dirty looks, they smiled and clapped me on the back as I went ahead of them.  Inside, it was an old church, hundreds of years old, and every open shelf or window was also covered in the little jars emptied of their goodies.

As I continued on I saw a shelf, low to the ground, jars piled on it, but this time they were unopened.  I took one, and a little boy nearby walked up to me and started handing me more.  “Free,” he said, although I’m not really sure he understood what he was saying.  I took a few more and put them in my pockets, and then continued on.

The darkness of the hallway slowly disappeared as I continued towards a lit up opening, which led to a courtyard.  My eyes took a moment to adjust to the sudden brightness as I noticed a woman facing away from me in the middle of the courtyard surrounded by children.  They all began to giggle as I approached, and when I touched her shoulder she turned and I saw those large innocent eyes once again, and she smiled.

“You found me.  You’ve passed the first custom.”  She looked at me with such love that I felt my heart swoon, and I realized that I, too, was in love with her.  I took her hand and kissed it, and the children circled around her and pulled her away from me.

“There is still another custom,” she said, smiling and reaching for me as they pulled her away.

The children all giggled as the girls pushed her towards one archway and the boys began pushing me towards another.  I found myself surrounded by many men of all ages in a separate courtyard.  They smiled at me and continuously congratulated me on finding her, and then they boy from earlier approached.

“Next, you must say to her the traditional words, but you must memory them.”

“Do you mean memorize?”

“You know, you must say them without help.”

“But I’m not from here, I don’t know the words.”

The boy translated to the men and all grew concerned, brows furrowed as they discussed what must be done.  After much talk, the boy came back to my side.

“If you do not know the words, you cannot marry her.  We are taught as young children.  We know them.  We get a little card and we learn it and then we return the card to our parents.  Then on our wedding day, after we recite them, we get the card back, and it signifies our love.”

I sat down, disheartened that I would come so close to the love of my life and fail now.  A man even older than the old woman who first explained the custom to me came up and looked me in the eye.  Even seated I was taller than him, gravity and age had stooped him so much.  He put a hand on my shoulder and spoke.  He was speaking in Italian, but I knew he was telling me about his love, and how long they’d been together, and how perfect his wife was.  I could sense his story as he told it, and at the end he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wrinkled scrap of paper with the image of a saint on it, and he handed it to me.

I flipped it over and there were words on it, and I knew they were the words I would have to say.  The men folk of the town all began to whisper to each other, but remained quiet as I read it over and over again, hoping I could remember it.  Then, the whispering stopped, and I looked up to find the old woman again, leading my love into the courtyard, only now she was wearing a beautiful full dress, her hair was down, and she seemed to glow like an angel.

She walked up to me and smiled, and I said the words.  She leaned in and kissed me, and whispered, “You did it perfect.  I love you.”

At this point, my alarm went off and woke me up.  As I rose from bed, my memory of her faded a bit.

As I ate breakfast, I could remember some of the words I’d said.  As I dressed for work, I could remember less of them, but I still remembered the jars of preserve, and the taste.  As I drove to work, all I could remember were her beautiful eyes and the feeling I had when I realized I loved her.  By the time I got to work, the memory had faded, but I still loved her a tiny bit.  And now, I cannot even remember the look in her large, innocent brown eyes.

Original Photo by Charleen Artese  http://www.flickr.com/this_is_she