When we went into the sanctuary I saw an approach to accessible seating that I'd never seen before. Imagine a room with pews on either side of a large aisle. Imagine that the pews have a gentle curve to them making them form a semi circle around the alter. Now imagine half way round the curve a cut out row is made such that it looks like a little narrow aisle. When you roll down it, you end up dead centre in the middle of the section, with people sitting on either side of you. Clever.
Or so I thought.
I liked the fact that I was sitting 'in' the congregation, not behind it, not in front of it, but in the congregation. I was able to sit right beside those who were with me. Great. And so it was, until the service started. There was a lot of standing. Whenever the congregation stood I felt isolation like I'd almost never felt it before, I was low down in a forest of legs. I could see nothing. I knew, then, that I would not see Ruby's first communion. But, I told myself, it didn't matter, she knew we were there, she knew we had driven up to be part of the day. That's what mattered.
I did catch a glimpse of her going by holding the candle and I did know when she was up front because the kids names were called. I'd have rather been up front or off to the side, the cool looking accessible spot wasn't actually cool to experience.
But there was another thing.
During communion, which I did not take because I'm not Catholic and I'm kind of unrepentantly gay, everyone stood and the priest said to the congregation, something like, "We stand together as a symbol of our membership in the community of God."
Now I know, or at least I think I know, that he didn't mean that I, sitting in the forest of knees, was not a member of the community of God. But ... that's what the words said. And as much as you can shake those words down, that's what they say.
The priest seemed like a genuinely nice guy and I'm sure that he'd be appalled to think that I thought that he might have meant what the words said. But ... that's what the words said. And as much as he may have protested, that's what they say.
I left there having really enjoyed being there, seeing Ruby so happy, having Sadie make and land a perfect jump and twist to land right on my lap, seeing Mike and Marissa so proud of their daughter. Wouldn't have missed it for the world. But I was also left to think about accessibility, community and the power of words.