The Words of the Reverends Moffitt
There was a womenís meeting after church a couple of Sundays back. Taeko decided to attend, which left me with approximately nothing to do. Sure I could have joined some of the other people who were following the gangs of rampaging children around the other parts of the church, yelling at them to behave. The way I look at it, the children were already behaving. Okay it was less than perfect behavior -- chaotic, running and screaming and destroying behavior -- but it WAS behavior. Better than no behavior at all, I thought. Behavior that is not behaving. I would have probably been a pretty good Zen Buddhist.
The Argentina church has three floors with lots of nooks and crannies. Maybe I could have retired to a quiet room to read scripture, but there was no such place, as the hordes of children, like rising water, seeped in everywhere. That, and I wasnít in scripture reading mode anyway. I had just survived church. I gave the sermonÖin Spanish. Peaceful reflection was what I wanted most. A cup of coffee for the country preacher would have just about hit the spot.
The church ladies circled their chairs in the big room where the service had been held earlier. Amazingly, this was the only scream-free zone in the whole place, even though it was crawling with mommies. By some arrangement the children tortured each other and played soccer with a balled up paper sack everywhere except here. Well whatdya know?.
In the back of the room sits a comfortable green fake velvet couch with a seductive voice that, as you walk past it, says, "hey there sailor, got a little time?" As a matter of fact I did, but not out of laziness or for any frivolous reason of course. I was suddenly terribly interested in what goes on at a womenís meeting. I would learn their arcane secrets as a fly on the wall. "Nothiní says loviní like somethiní from the coven."
I settled into the couch for some serious scientific inquiry. I was at the other end of the room and not even on the same planet as far as they were concerned. The first thing I discovered was that the idea for the womenís meeting originated with the pastor, Ricardo de Sena (a card-carrying man). Women coming into the room wondered what the purpose was, if any. Ricardo presided over the first ten minutes of the session, wherein he said there ought to be a womenís organization to do stuff and pray for things -- and then he bolted. And there they sat, a group of women with no clear agenda or leader.
They tried with all their combined power to make my little yellow bride, Taeko, the leader, being she was the spiritually senior woman in the group and apparently universally respected. I smiled and could have told them they were wasting their time. Taeko does many things better than any other person I know, but she doesnít do leadership. It would be easier to leash-break a cat than to make her guide a group. She would much rather be in the kitchen peeling onions or off getting a root canal thank you very much. Itís one of the many qualities I admire about her.
So fifteen minutes later they still had no leader or agenda. (This couch felt great. The country preacher really, REALLY could have used a cup of coffee. And some chips.) They put the leader issue on hold and jumped right into organizing themselves and making plans. But how could this be? There was no leader? I take that back; there was leadership but the mantle kept shifting seamlessly from one person to another. One would give some direction, then another would pick up the thread and give further direction or change topics. By some telepathic arrangement, they created and assigned tasks and responsibilities cheerfully and civilly without Robertís Rules of Order. Without testosterone. The body shared one mind. If you kicked one, the rest would probably rub their shins. The scene reminded me of a Star Trek episode I saw once.
I have to admit I became a little bit drowsy in the tender embrace of that marvelous couch. Thatís okay, a scientist needs his sleep in order to regroup and better pursue truth. I faded in and out, and at one point noticed that a clear leader had emerged after all, a Brazilian woman. The selection process had been completely transparent to me. The pod people had chosen their queen.
The Brazilian woman, as with several of the others, had a baby latched onto her breast most of the time. And that brings up another matter of scientific inquiry -- breast feeding. All men are fascinated by it. Never mind that protocol in a public breast-feeding community like our church calls for men to discreetly avert their eyes when a woman pops the hood, our minds are absolutely engaged in the process. We want to watch and talk about it and touch it, but there is a very definite invisible wall that prevents it. The warmth of the motherís breast is the first experience of intimacy for a baby and it remains mystical ever after. You never forget your first love.
So anyway, blessing duties are assigned. Candy is out now and wine is back in. What to do with the backlogged inventory of candy? Use it up, they decide, then switch back to wine. No big debate here. A prayer list begins to appear on the blackboard at the front. An Argentine woman is running this part of it. Could it be that the Brazilian woman wasnít the leader after all? Am I inordinately hung up on whoís the leader? It doesnít seem to matter to the pod people, so why should it matter to me? It doesnít matter to me, I conclude, I would just simply like to know how they do it (dammit). You sure as heck couldnít run a company this way.
Suddenly the Brazilian woman deputizes the heads of two new committees that had been created in the meeting without my being aware. Then another person who hardly said diddly during the whole time, asked someone to pray to conclude the meeting.
Before the prayer, the Brazilian woman walks over to me and hands me her baby. She needs her hands free to pray. I can understand that. Since I have five children she must assume I have enormous hands-on experience with tiny babies. If she only knew.
The pink clothes and pierced-ear earring told my discerning mind that this was an infant girl I was being handed. Her eyes were half-closed and she was comatose, knowing some bliss she will spend the rest of her life searching to re-attain. The little lady was in a divine stupor. You would be too if you had just chugged a hooter fulla swag.
I sat on the couch and held the sleeping baby, useful at last, while the mommies prayed and invoked a blanket of peace over everything.
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