Unsurprisingly, I felt out of place the entire conference. My first thought, when I saw the fancy hotel we were staying at and the laughing beautiful men and women who were in the lobby attending the conference was, “Oh man I have to pretend I am an adult now!” Why, when put in these situations do I feel like I am not part of the crowd and this somehow makes me feel childish?
After much thought on the subject, I realized that this feeling has less to do with acting like an adult and more to do with acting like part of the upper class. And I just did not feel like I belonged.
When I would walk out the door and the bellboy would say, “Ma’m can I help you get a cab?” I would wonder if he was talking to some women behind me in a mink stole and a snotty look on her face and then shocked, I would realize I was the ma’m he was talking to.
At the conference, when an older woman who looked about 55 came up to me and asked me if I would like an hors d'oeuvre at the opening reception I wanted to crawl under my table and die. I felt disrespectful smiling at her and looking her in the eye, seeing that she is the matriarch of the family, probably has children and grandchildren and this woman is serving me hors d'oeuvres!
There was something of the celebrity in the air the entire week. When I would walk into the main conference room, lights would flash and techno music would be thumping. I could not avoid feeling some degree of self importance, as if I were a movie star walking down the red carpet. One night, Maroon 5 played and the Celtics who were staying at the hotel came down to watch. I told Sarah this and she cackled, then said, “But Theresa only 15 year olds like them (Maroon 5, not the Celtics)!”
I escaped one day from the conference and visited the local Catholic church. When I saw it, my heart was at peace and I said to myself, “Here I feel at home.” I walked in for daily mass and as the priest walked towards the front I heard an angelic sound. I thought, “How strange, they have recorded music for the daily mass! Suddenly I realized it was not recorded. I turned around to see a full boys’ choir walking down the aisle singing in Latin. Their voices were so pure and angelic. I felt like it was God’s gift to me saying, “Look Theresa, here is something truly of value, something truly beautiful.”
How can I end this post without mentioning my trip to Temple Square, the center of the Mormon faith.
I think I will avoid saying too much; honestly my head is spinning from information from them and from my dad about their faith. I do not want to make judgments to soon. I will say this much, as I walked through the square several young missionaries stopped to talk to me. When I looked into their eyes as they spoke of their love for Jesus my heart leapt with joy. I felt a kinship with them based on that love. I also admired that they cared enough about my soul to stop and talk to me about their love for God.
That being said, there were some strange aspects of their faith that gave me pause and although I admire some things about their faith, I don’t think many Mormons would say the same about mine which does not give me a warm feeling inside.
So that is my strange week in Salt Lake City folks.
I’ll close with a short message to my dear Franciscan friend Mike who I saw in Portland and did not mention in my last post. When I felt out of place at the conference, I realized that this feeling was very Franciscan at heart. When I thought of the little St Francis parish in Portland with the dwindling congregation that we visited, I realized that your desire to join them and to be with them was a very beautiful thing. The desire to be with the marginalized, not to change them, just to be with them, that is a wonderful gift and something I hope you continue to share with us. Love ya!