Friday, February 5, 2010
How Very Un-Christian of You
The first two Mondays of every month finds me counting money at my church. I realize that's potentially shocking to you in two ways. First, it means I go to church. Second, it means I actually give of myself to the cause. [Perhaps it's shocking to you in a third way: how I've managed to take a bit off the top without being found out.]
I think I've bitched about this before in minor ways. Specifically, I count money with another volunteer, an older man I'll call "Abraham." I carry the heavy load of the task. It is made substantially heavier by the fact that Abraham can't see very well. ["Wait a minute. What's that check number? How much is it for? Can you see what they've written there?"]
Nor do Abraham's thumbs work very well. ["I'm losing my feeling in my thumbs. It's hard to separate the checks."]
Nor can Abraham shut the hell up about all the other parishioners whenever he comes across their names. On the checks. Or donation envelopes. ["Did you see that Prissy's daughter is visiting from Ontario? Why, I haven't seen Harold in three weeks."]
My mantra throughout my ordeal each time is, "He's an old man. He's served his country. He's an old man. He's served his country." I won't share with you my alternate mantra A. Alternate mantra B is "Shut the hell up, old man! Shut the hell up, old man!" Thankfully, all mantras are said only in my head.
So the head priest of more than 27 years retired and there was a big to-do last weekend for him. I liked him a lot. He was engaging and funny and a good guitar player and a draw for the kids.
The people counting money? Not such big fans. I asked Abraham if he'd gone to the reception.
"No way. I'm not going to be a hypocrite."
When he saw the amounts on some of the checks people had earmarked for the retirement gift, Abraham's comment was, "What a waste! All I got was a handshake when I retired."
Worst, though, was the "head" teller's instruction that if it just said "Fr. John's Retirement" on the check, we were to put it toward the reception. Only if it explicitly said "Fr. John's Retirement Gift" could it go toward that fund.
Now, folks were asked to pony up $20 per individual or $40 per family as suggested donation amounts to offset the reception cost. Do you know how many checks were written for $50 or $25 or $100 that didn't specifically say "gift"? But, clearly, the intent was there. Right?
I expressed my doubts, but did (mostly) what I was told to do. Until, that is, the assistant priest came in. [Or, as I like to think of her now, the anointed high priestess.] Once she was there, I made a point of telling the office assistant what we were doing. As expected, office assistant told high priestess who told head teller who told me to classify the checks the logical -- and, let's face it, the Christian -- way and only put toward the reception any checks in the amount of $20 or $40.
You could tell by the charged atmosphere that the others had discovered an interloper in their midst. An interloper with a new mantra, "What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?"
Okay, not really, I'll never get through the time without my mantra cautioning me not to wish Abraham ill.
[Photo courtesy DiscoveryEducation.com.]
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