Decided Saturday night that I needed to go to church. Having not been in a long, long time. So I checked online for the nearest Episcopal parish (NEP) in Portland, OR, and made a note of their address (half a mile from my house) and their start time of 10am (an hour after St. Thatguy started, which was good from my point of view, my point of view being I got home from work on Saturday night at 11.30pm).
So I rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth and my hair, and was half an hour early to the NEP.
There wasn’t a single car in the parking lot. Not a blessed one. Now, this place according to both their web site and the sign out front, had an 8am service. Sandwich boards gave the phone number for the Co-op preschool, but the sign on the side of the building said the later service stated at 10.30.
I drove around, trying to identify if there was another point of entry, you know, the secret door where you had to know the secret Episcopal handshake to get into NEP. Nope, just the one out front. So I went and parked near enough to it where I could keep an eye on the comings and goings, but far enough away I didn’t look like an undercover cop.
I sat there in my car for an hour, from 9.30 to 10.30, and not a blessed soul drove into the parking lot nor entered the door of the church. At 10.30, I found out why no one had entered the single identifiable door of the church; when I walked up to it, it was locked.
By that point, I was running into a time crunch. Any 11am service would make me late for work. Thank goodness St. Crankypants* Roman Catholic Church has a 10.30am service. I got there at 10.38am, and walked through the door right as they were starting the Gospel reading. Exactly an hour later (including a homily about perserverance I needed to hear, the parish announcements, and the eternal internal argument I have with my inner child at RC churches, “He just said this sacrifice is for everyone! Why can’t I go up for the Eucharist?”) I was out the door and nearly stampeded by the people who wanted to get to their cars much quicker than I did.
But you know what I’ll remember for the next few weeks? The way my heart just fell out of my chest when I went to pull that door open on NEP and it was locked.
*a commentary on the saint, not the people