Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hail Mary

Starr Ann feels sorry for Jesus. She really does.

When we very little, Starr Ann used to pray. That habit wasn't anything to worry about, wasn't anything that a couple years of Catholic education couldn't fix.

I was always partial to Mary. Something about the way they always called her the 'Virgin' kept her sexuality front and center in my mind, and since I can't remember a time before being interested in sex, I kinda developed a crush on Mary. And I loved that part in the Hail Mary where you get to say "the fruit of thy womb." Dang, that still kinda causes a twang.

Starr Ann liked Mary, too, but the strongest emotion she recalls from the days when we were frog-marched to church every morning and twice on Fridays because that's when we had to go to Confession in the afternoon, is embarrassment. Embarrassment for Jesus.

In both our books, there's nothing harder to withstand than embarrassment for someone else. That's just an awful feeling. Anyway, guess when Starr Ann felt the most mortified for poor Jesus? Christmas time. Yep.

Starr Ann has this internal filter that lets the good, the noble, the uplifting parts of a person or concept through with much more vibrance than other parts. So, when it came to Jesus, what she saw most was his kindness and keen intellect. All the perverted twists people put on the things he said just didn't register with Starr Ann. To her, he was just one of the nicest men you could imagine.

She has always been offended by the gaudiness of Christmas. Even before she was old enough to understand about consumerism run amock, corporate avarice, and families pretending to like being together when they would rather stay home, Starr Ann wanted more dignity for Jesus on his birthday. Okay, so another thing is that she hates the colors red and green together. But she also chafed at all the "fall on your knees" stuff.

Anyway, it didn't take us long to get a handle on religion. By the time I was ten, I'd already turned Confession into a real fun game, and I was teaching Starr Ann how to make up stuff that would have the priest looking at us all worried.

If I didn't already know I loved Starr Ann, I sure would have realized it the Friday night she told me about her most illustrious Confession ever. Father Darbin was on duty. Poor guy. Starr Ann went in like normal and started off with the usual, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned." She told him that some of the other kids (they can't make you name names in the confessional) had shown her their secret peephole into the sacristy. And that she had looked through it. Father tried real hard to get more details from her, but she acted all confused and ashamed. Of course, back then we had no idea of the nerve this might hit. All little Starr Ann was thinking was that priests wouldn't want to be seen without their collars!

Two weeks later, when the workmen arrived and started ripping the sacristy walls apart, we knew there was more to that story than we thought. Anyway, we chalked it up as a major, if ambigous, victory for Starr Ann.

So yesterday, when Starr Ann came home from town, she got out her Christmas candle. Every winter, right after she sees the first garish decorations, she puts a plain white candle in her windowsill, and lights it as soon as darkness falls. Starr Ann really hates red and green together.