The feel of a new term continues this morning into the 8 am communion service I would definitely visit on a weekly basis if my duvet wasn’t so compelling every Sunday.
In reality I tend to have my chats with God when I am out running or sitting at a particularly slow change of traffic lights. I mention this not to make myself sound worthy, but to point out that I have learnt over the years that I need to be practical about my faith and that, thankfully, I have a very compassionate Maker; naturally I sense he would prefer me to get to church when I can, but he is also extremely forgiving and seems to accept me as a prayer in progress.
He also seems particularly sensitive to the fact that I am not feeling very christian at the moment, and, like a toddler with their parent on the way home from nursery, I have a tendency to aim a well-directed kick or tantrum in his direction because I know he can take it. He must love me. He has been showing me this love recently with an unnatural supply of rainbows and dragonflies and I sense he knows that I am not only missing the daily bants with my sister, but from a spiritual point of view, I am also missing her WhatsApp version of The New Testament in ‘even-Mama-J-can-manage-christianity’ speak.
Anyway, the dragonflies must have nudged me for I have realised that I can not strop off and sulk forever, and that I have been missing my 8 am Sunday commune with the early morning crew. Although on some Sundays it is hardly worth washing down the communion chalice because our numbers in the side chapel circle are so few, in true new term fashion, this morning we nearly have to bake a fresh loaf to ensure that we do not actually have to gather up the crumbs from under the table to feed the gathering throng. I arrive late enough to skip being selected for reading the epistle (result) and squeeze in besides a fellow 8’O’Clocker. As I look down at my feet to remind myself not to get distracted, I notice that my companion is wearing some really smart, polished lace ups. Now, as you can tell a lot about a person – even christians – from their shoes, I extend my gaze, still averted, across the communion circle.
Unfortunately, in so doing, I catch the eye of an older and very genial gent, who told me at our Christmas drinks that he always looks forward to the 8 O’clock service because he likes to see what shoes I am wearing. Apparently his favourites are my bronze brogues and some black patent boots that I like to wear in the winter. This morning I can see his eyes twinkling because it is the first time he has seen the snakeskin loafers (thanks Zara) that I have been wearing all Summer. This is their first outing at the 8 am. I notice that he is sporting his well-worn and comfortable leather loafers – the perfect match for his shorts and t- shirt combo (he’s a very on-trend retiree and tells me that God doesn’t expect him in Sunday best, he just prefers him to arrive not naked).
Totally distracted now and mentally gathering material for my Christian Autumn Season ’19 (CAS19) fashion blog (I am thinking of a dragonfly spin-off), my attention shifts to the ladies. I don’t think I can take responsibility for the rainbow of colour at our feet, but I do inwardly smile at the disjoint between shoes and above the knee apparel. From waist up, we all seem to be a calm throng of white and beige natural fibres, yet, down below there are little flutters of fashion rebellion going on. If you want to make God smile, tell him your fashion plans; God has really cobbled things up for us ladies this morning and there is a strong Dorothy feel to our espadrilles, stilettos and pumps.
If I have to pick out some favourites – although I feel this may be ungodly – this morning’s prizes should go to some silver, wedged high tops (worn by a fellow mid-lifer) and some embroidered doc martins (worn by the oldest member of our gathering and almost hidden by her long tweed skirt). My snakeskin feels somewhat understated but I remind myself not to covet my neighbour’s goods and smile knowing that my fellow shoe lover will be really enjoying the sermon this morning; he knows what I am thinking and as I raise my gaze, he winks at me.
I tune into the sermon at last and hear a little chuckle from above when I realise that the vicar is talking about the parable of the lost sheep.
Service over, the reward for getting up in time for an 8 am service is a double round of coffee – the first with your fellow communers in the church itself and the second with a smaller band of brothers who escape for a cheeky post-service breakfast debrief. When we reach our favourite cafe, Comfy Leather Loafers is already there and comes to join Polished Shoes, Snakeskin and Burnt Orange Moccasins.
Did I not mention Ms Moccasin? Ah, well that will be because she is the only one of us brave enough to wear her rainbow colours both on her feet and above her waist. This is probably how she got to be a Greeter for the 8 am service. If you get up at Silly O’Clock and run in to church, God has her there as a Dragonfly ready to welcome you; bright smile, bright orange pashmina, embroidered moccasins and an order of service in small or large print ( in case you are too vain to wear your glasses in public). She listens – non-judgementally (nat.) as Leather Loafer and I critique the shoe offering we have just witnessed.
Loafer admits he would have upped his shoe game if he had known I was coming this morning. He says he has missed me this summer; the feeling is mutual. I promise to put my best foot forward and tell him to watch out for my autumn boot collection . He says he will wear socks again this winter if I just return to church. I feel strangely excited in a Christian kind of way. Sis will be pleased and Ms Moccasin is smiling beatifically.