Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Song of Innocence; A free spirit;


A free spirit;
I had my first encounter with religion when I was eight years old.
My parents did not like organized religion. My father was an atheist. I am not sure about my mother but I think she was not a believer. I never saw her at church, only once when I had my first communion and usually at Christmas, because I went there with my class to sing Christmas carols.
It was actually a protestant church as I went to a protestant school in a protestant village . It was all very confusing. Anyway I was baptized In the catholic faith, as both my parents were at a certain time, when they did not have a say in this matter.
As I was to receive my first communion I had to be instructed about it. For the religious instructions I had to travel by train to the next village. It was a prosperous, catholic village with two beautiful big Churches.
The instructions were held in a schoolroom of a newly build school. It was terribly boring, I did not understand what the priest was talking about and I never learned my lines from the catechism. I was more interested in the other children and my surroundings. I felt very grown up as I traveled alone to this village and had to find my way to the school.
I soon made friends with another girl who was beautifully dressed.
She was black haired with freckles, her name was Genevieve. When I first met her she wore a lime green coat beautifully tailored, she said her Mother was a dressmaker and made all her garments. I was only eight but I had this feeling for beautiful things, it did not matter what it was.
At the church, all the instructions about the big day and what we had to do went over my head as I was entranced and overwhelmed with the paintings and overall sanctity of the church. The singing, the smell of incense the ancient Greek words, the Kyrie Eleison, falling like pearls from my lips. I was now really looking forward to my spirituel entrance into this community.

My mother had bought white fabric to make my first communion frock, I think she was as excited about the project as I was. When I asked her if she liked to make this beautiful garment she said don’t be “meschugge”. She never said mad or silly always meschugge. I liked that word it was different, the other children didn’t know the word meschugge. I did not know where it came from and why she used it.
She said:” you can help making the frock but be careful this is silk.” I knew silk was made by grubs and in my imagination I saw all this tiny grubs patiently making the thread for this rippling, white fabric.
My mother cut out the pattern. The dress would be long, reaching down to my shoes.
The front on top would be embroidered with smocking stitches. It was very elaborate work and my fingers and hands got sticky and I soiled the material. My mother dismissed me quickly from helping.
Finally the first communion frock was finished and I slipped into it, whirled and danced around in the living room, like it was made for this frivolous purpose. I could barley wait until white Sunday arrived. I received new white sandals, first my mother wanted to colour my brown shoes white. I said I am not wearing them they are ugly. She said that I could be right and bought new, white sandals. I had to carry a tall candle embossed in gold with the sign of the holy spirit. The base of the candle was wrapped in one of my mothers lacy handkerchiefs. My short plaits were tied with white ribbons. I wanted to leave my hair falling in waves over my shoulders like Maria, the mother of god. My mother did not allow it.
My mother did not have a veil for me but she said that the nun who looked after us had one for me.
When I arrived at the schoolhouse where the children were assembled to go in a procession to the church, all I saw was a sea of veils popping up and down.
The girls all in white and the boys in blue suits. A nun took me aside and pushed a veil on my hair which she secured with a small, green wreath and a lot of bobby pins which made my scalp itch. I put my hand up and tried to loosen it, she slapped my hand and said:" leave it alone, now you made it all askew with your scratching.” I forgot about it when a friend of my mother was looking for me and gave me a pretty silver chain with a silver cross which she fastened around my neck. I thought this was so special because I was not expecting such a nice present. It was my first jewellery I received. I endured the long, alien ceremony and was glad when it was finished. After white Sunday I have never worn my white frock anymore. My mother gave it to another first communion girl to wear. However I wore my silver necklace for many years and I always thought with fondness of the lady who gave it to me.

6 comments:

Kathy said...

Titania, thank you for all your nice remarks about my pictures. This spot is just the place where I park my extra pictures when I have more than one that I'd like to share over and above my 365 picture a day project. But I really thank for you the identification of the agave attenuata. I had tried to describe it at a local nursery and they asked me to bring in a picture -- they didn't have anyone around who I could email the picture to. Now I know what it is and I can hunt for one!

Thanks again. Sometimes photos are a challenge for me because all I have is a little point-and-shoot camera. I find it does very well with the macro and flower shots but I'm saving for a nice SLR hopefully come Christmas!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing such good memories of your baptism :-)

I had my baptism in a very casual way (protestant way) and no white frock. My pastor baptised us in a swimming pool as then the church did not have a permanent church building yet. It was marked a milestone in my life and I could still recall those moments.

Elfe said...

Helo liebe Titania, wieder einmal so zauberhafte Erinnerungen an deine Jugendzeit. Das war bestimmt ein eindrückliches Erlebnis diese Erstkommunion. Als Kind war ich manchmal etwas neidisch auf all die schönen Rituale der Katholiken.

Meine Eltern hatten auch nicht viel mit Religion am Hut, mein Vater war eher den Sozialdemokraten nahe, und meine Mutter hatte in ihrer Jugend schlechte Erfahrungen mit der katholischen Kirche gemacht. Da blieb mir als Kind eine Indoktrination erspart, doch meine Eltern haben ihren Kindern trotzdem ethische Werte übermittelt.
Ich wünsche Dir einen schönen Abend, sei herzlich gegrüsst
Elfe

Kilauea Poetry said...

"I wanted to leave my hair falling in waves over my shoulders like Maria" lol
"entranced and overwhelmed with the paintings and overall sanctity of the church..singing and incence" sounds familar.
An interesting perspective on your past.

Titania said...

Kathy, thanks for your visit. Perhaps you know a person who grows them in the garden, you could cut a plantlet from the side of the mother plant as they are generally produced in abundance.

Stephanie, thank you for your visit.
and thanks for your memories.

Elfe, vielen Dank fuer deine Worte.
Ich freue mich immer ueber deine virtuale Besuche.

Thank you Regina.

April said...

I enjoyed your vivid account of a precious childhood memory.