Sunday, June 03, 2007

How I Spent My Sunday

or: Why Don't Cars Break Down When It's Convenient?

Caveat lector. Read this only if you're really bored or really interested in the mundane details of my life, because I'm just rambling about my little adventure of the day. Nothing earth-shaking or insightful lies ahead in this posting.

I serve on the Companion Diocese Committee, responsible for leading our diocesan relationship with our companion relationship with the diocese in Sudan. We meet the first Sunday afternoon of each month – usually in St. Louis. Usually, I attend services in my parish, then make the two-hour trek to St. Louis in plenty of time for our 3:00 meeting.

But our rector is on leave, and late this week I learned we're merely having Morning Prayer while she's away. [Don't get me started! Morning Prayer is a lovely service, but it is not a substitute for the Eucharist, for which I hunger and thirst.]

So I decided to get myself to St. Louis in time for a real church service, and of course I went to my favorite St. Louis parish – the same one I wrote about here. I checked their website a couple days ago to confirm the service schedule times, and I learned they were having a special event today, and that the service would be followed by "barbeque and potluck."

[Long parenthetical harangue: Don't get me started on the Midwest's concept of "barbeque." "Barbeque" is a noun – not a verb. Folks around here seem to believe that grilling burgers and hotdogs (and/or bratwurst) is "barbeque." It is not! As a Southerner, I know that barbeque is pork [Apologies to my Texas friends, who believe it can be beef] cooked slow and low over charcoal, onto which a delightful, tangy sauce is basted. Trust me on this. I know. There is no "via media" when it comes to barbeque. These Midwesterners are wrong, and I am right. . . . Oh, well. Even knowing that there probably would be no real barbeque in sight, of course this daughter of the South took a dish. (A marvelous orzo salad, if I do say so myself!)]

Worship this morning at Trinity was marvelous -- just marvelous. This parish manages to do very high and very warm liturgy. They are an awesome and truly diverse community. And it was fun to have so many people come over and greet me by name during the peace or after church. (One person actually hollered to me by name when she saw me standing in the line for communion. Talk about the antithesis of "decently and in order"!!) I guess I've been there often enough that I'm not really a "visitor" there anymore. -- And this was funny to me: When some of the folks saw me bringing in my dish to contribute to the potluck (having carried it over 100 miles), they were just astonished. They said it cost me my "visitor" card. :-) Uh-oh! Now I may start getting their stewardship campaign appeals. [Just kidding!]

After lunch when most folks had left, I decided to move my car, which I had parked about a block away [It's a very urban parish] and move it into their small parking lot, so it would be nearby after the committee meeting. That would leave me about an hour and a half to go to a coffee house, sit outdoors and read, browse through some of the artsy-fartsy shops, and just generally enjoy a beautiful, mild, leisurely afternoon until our 3:00 committee meeting.

Or so I thought.

I went to my car and turned the key in the ignition. One very pitiful click, and nothing more. Alas. So ... I walked back to the church where folks were setting up for the hot meal they provide each Sunday afternoon to the hungry. I asked for help, and one of the guys brought his car around and we tried my jumper cables. No dice. It wasn't the battery. :( I suspect it's the alternator.

I spent the next hour with much help from the rector there ... identifying a good nearby mechanic ... calling AAA to arrange a tow ... and finding a rental car agency and making arrangements so that I could get home this evening. That kept me busy 'til the meeting started. And the tow truck arrived halfway through the meeting. Fortunately, one of the committee members was willing to drive me out to the airport car rental agency. And finally I got on the road in this little Toyota Corolla and arrived home safe and sound, just a little later than expected.

I'm bummed about the expense of the rental car and the hassle of having to make an unplanned trip back to St. Louis. And I'm more than a little nervous about having my car towed to a shop where they don't know me and I'll be completely at their long-distance mercy. As Nina observed, this stuff never happens at a good time. But I sure am thankful that it happened then and there, where I had such marvelous, generous support from friendly Episcopalians.

All in all, the day was so delightful in all other ways that, while the car situation was a logistical hassle (and robbed me of the leisurely early-afternoon interlude I'd envisioned), it really was "no biggie."

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