Sunday Visits

via Daily Prompt: Vivid

Earlier this week, I wrote a little bit about the season of Lent and referenced a Wikipedia article. After my post, I decided to read back over that article. I noticed a sentence that intrigued me: In some Christian countries…the faithful attempt to visit seven churches during Holy Week in honor of Jesus Christ heading to Mount Calvary.


It gave me an idea. I’m not going to visit seven churches during Holy Week, but it occurred to me that I can find seven churches to highlight during this season, whether they be churches that I have attended or saw on vacation or noticed as I was passing by. Armed with my next idea, I decided to head to downtown Wilmington to take some pictures. I already had a church in mind and I also wanted to visit a bookstore at the Cotton Exchange for a separate mission. While I was at it, I figured I would grab a coffee. 



I recently bought a new camera and figured it would give me an opportunity to break it in. Unfortunately, since I did not plan the adventure ahead of time, the camera was not charged. I read the instructions and realized it would take 310 minutes or something like that to fully charge the camera. I did not have time to wait so I decided to go forward and put my best effort into taking the most vivid pictures possible with my phone camera.

My first stop was a small local bookstore, Two Sisters Bookery, where I bought a book about a character who used to live by the salt marsh at Carolina Beach. I will discuss him more at a later date.


Next, I headed to Java Dog Coffee House, where I purchased a chai latte and some fruit. I ate the fruit in the cafe then strolled the riverfront for a few minutes while I sipped the latte.


Finally, I headed to St. Mary’s Church, where I attended school in 7th and 8th grades. I parked on the street by the church. As I approached the church, I noticed the beauty of the architecture, a Spanish Baroque style, in a way that I didn’t really appreciate as a kid. It really was a beautiful building. I did a little research beforehand and apparently, St. Mary’s was designed by the same architect who worked on the Biltmore Estate and Duke Chapel. I walked around the block, circling the church and the school. Memories flooded back to me.


St. Mary’s was the place where I met my friend, Mary, when I was twelve. We used to walk around the schoolyard on our breaks and talk about the things that fascinated us most: Duran Duran, makeup, Tiger Beat magazine and even books. We are still friends today.

St. Mary’s was the place that introduced me to the nuns: Sister Lillian, a large woman who was also a softie; Sister Patricia, a tomboy who used to play dodgeball with the boys; Sister Josephine who didn’t seem to have any sense of humor at all and Sister Mary John, a tiny little bulldog of a woman. 


St. Mary’s was the place where I experienced my first real crush. The first time I met someone and actually felt like I was in love. Of course, I wasn’t; I was twelve, but I thought I was.  Unfortunately, it ended very badly. I didn’t belong to the right clique. Friends of the boy poked fun of the situation, and in an effort to diffuse the attention from himself, he turned on me one day and chased me off the playground, calling me the worst name I’ve ever been called in my life. It was a pivotal experience for me. 

St. Mary’s was the church where I first attended a funeral for a classmate. When I was thirteen and in 8th grade, one of my classmates, Martha, along with her mother and a sibling, was killed in a car accident. I remember the parade of caskets at the funeral. It was pitiful.


As I walked around the building, I saw the courtyard where we played as children. The gate was open.

After a few moments of reflection, I decided to leave. On the way back to the car, I saw my shadow on the sidewalk. It reminded me of something. I belong to a little meditation group and I remembered our instructor talking a while back about something called shadow work. Without getting too deep, the idea is that everyone has a shadow self, a part of himself or herself that doesn’t always feel, do or react the way that we want. The idea is to get to know that part of yourself instead of avoiding it like we all do; and then eventually make friends with it, if possible, since it is part of who you are and there for a reason.


It occurred to me that maybe I had kind of done that by visiting St. Mary’s. I had added St. Mary’s to my list of churches partly because it was local, and I did have a history with the church. I knew it was a beautiful building; I knew that the architecture was impressive; but I also had a wide range of experiences there-good, bad and ugly, as they say- during some very formative years. My little field trip made me ponder many things beyond architecture. It helped me to look at my complex relationship with St. Mary’s church. 



Thoughts on Lent


Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the first day of Lent. I was raised Protestant, Presbyterian mostly, and do not remember a lot of ritual surrounding Lent in the church that I attended with my family. I did attend a school run by a Catholic church in the 7th and 8th grades, however, which exposed me to some of the traditions, especially the tradition of fasting, during Lent. I have never converted to Catholicism, but the fascination that I felt toward the rituals of the Catholic church left its imprint on my brain; and while I didn’t fully understand every custom that I witnessed as a middle-schooler, I could feel the sense of mystery and reverence that surrounded them.   

The first time I decided to give up something for Lent was about three years ago. You would think that since I was raised Protestant and attended a Catholic school that I would have a well-rounded understanding of Lent. But to be perfectly honest, I was a daydreamer as a kid and my understanding goes only as deep as the moments that I was actually paying attention. A lot of my impressions from childhood come from how I felt during certain experiences. The facts and details often escape me. So when I decided to actively participate in Lent, I did what we all do these days when we want to learn more about a topic: I googled it.  Here is what Wikipedia says about Lent in case you are interested:

I decided to jump in and participate for a couple reasons. First of all, I am a Christian. I am often a back-sliding, irreverent Christian, and I respect and am interested in the beliefs of other religions, but Christ and Christianity are the root of my spirituality. I see Lent not only as a time of atonement, but more than that, as a time to pull closer to my creator. There are lots of ways to connect to your creator, and engaging in a discipline that reminds you of your savior on a daily basis is an effective way to do that.


The first time I participated in the “fasting” aspect of Lent, I gave up bread. The difficulty of doing that ebbed and flowed. Sometimes, it was easy. Other times, it felt like people were practically throwing bread at me. The next time I gave up Facebook. That was actually a much-needed detox, and in some ways, it wasn’t as much of the sacrifice as I thought it would be. I learned to enjoy being “off the grid” for Lent. This year, I’m going Pescatarian which means that I will be eating vegetarian with fish and eggs added as a source of protein. No other meats allowed.

I have mixed feelings about telling you about this because we are actually not supposed to advertise to the world what we are doing to become more spiritual. Braggarts are frowned upon by God. So that is not the point.

It just occurred to me that this will be something of a journey in multiple ways. It’s an opportunity to eat more seafood (though not too much because of mercury) and while there will be times when I will really want a cheeseburger, or it would be easier to grab some chicken for dinner, it also gives me an opportunity to try new dishes and to see what impact, if any, it has on my health. I assume I will want to write about some of that, and I didn’t want people to feel like I had suddenly become obsessed with fish for no reason 🙂 In addition, I think it is okay to write about it a little bit in case someone else is looking for information on this season as I was.

So, I’ve already planned my first meal. I have some tuna burgers in the freezer and decided to have a tuna burger for dinner, modeling it after the following recipe. I have rye bread in the house so I’ll substitute that for the bun, and a big juicy tomato so I’ll add that.

If I find any other good recipes along the way, I will share those, as well.
Hope everyone has a great day!