Sunday, November 27, 2016

307. A Most Sacred Place

I decided to go to a new church this morning. I went to the 9:30 a.m. Mass at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis. If you’re from the Twin Cities metro area, I’m guessing your mind tripped over the last two words in that sentence: North Minneapolis. If you don’t know, it’s the “bad” part of town. It’s our Southside of Chicago, North Philadelphia, etc. I’ve stayed away from it. Mainly because I haven’t really had a reason to go explore it. This was a good opportunity to get out of my comfort zone for a while.

The church was small. It was adorned pretty much like any other small church you’d walk into: cream colored walls, creaky pews, stained glass windows, etc. My friend gave me a heads up that it was a friendly parish. She wasn’t wrong. The priest invited the congregation to greet guests prior to the beginning of the service. People held hands during the Lord’s Prayer. People got out of their pews during the sign of peace. My friend, who was part of the band that played during Mass, said that people would probably just keep shaking hands if the music didn’t start up again.

The thing that struck me most was during the homily. The priest read a part of letter from the prior priest. He said the Ascension was, “One of the most sacred places on earth.” There was an audible gasp from the crowd. North Minneapolis. Sacred. That’s not something you hear from anyone.

Judging by my Facebook feed, the last few weeks have involved a lot of self-reflection for lots of people. We wonder what we can do. People have posted heartbreaking stories of people of all different backgrounds getting harassed after Trump’s win. It’s terrible and heartbreaking. However, in wondering what we can do out there, we often miss what we can do right here. Right here is a sacred place. Right here is a garden that needs watering. Right here is where we are.

That doesn’t dismiss the large problems faced by people all over this country and the world, but I believe there is power and liberation in thinking small. After Mass, my friend and I went out to breakfast at a place called Breaking Bread. It was a wonderful breakfast. The place was a small cafe. The paint job was colorful, local art hung on the walls, and there were a number of friendly women there to greet us--everyone working there was a woman of color. I got a frittata to go along with a biscuit, one of the best I’ve ever had.

It was an extremely pleasant dining experiences. The wait staff was delightful, the food delicious, and the company was wonderful. My friend talked with our waitress, found out the she was a cosmetology student, and got a standing invitation for a facial from the waitress at the school she was attending.

Afterwards my friend remarked, “I love this neighborhood, you just meet friendly people.”

North Minneapolis, sacred and friendly.

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