|Our first family visit to San Xavier del Bac|
On our first Sunday here, I completely mistook the time the local LDS ward started, so I joined Sam at mass. We attended at the San Xavier del Bac Mission, located on a reservation about 45 minutes away. The mass was packed, all of the ornate wood pews full. It was a punishingly hot day to attend a packed meeting in a church without air conditioning. They had fans going and all of the doors open to the courtyards, and still we sweated. We passed Henrietta back and forth, trying to keep her entertained, handing her toy after toy after cracker from my purse. When she dropped toys, those around us were eager to hand them back to her, smiling. She did remarkably well for a ten-month-old, leaning into us and shyly grinning when she received attention, and when we were asked to offer each other a sign of peace, a woman made the sign of the cross on Henrietta's forehead, and Henrietta looked at her in awe. It was a lovely meeting, and at the end, when a man stood and announced that they were looking for readers, Sam went up and volunteered. It's something he's talked about doing for a long time.
A man in a tie led us back behind the altar to a little room where he handed Sam a book containing all of the masses for the year, and looked at me suspiciously when Sam said I wasn't Catholic, but Mormon.
There was something sort of satisfying about that look, actually. Sam gets so many of them when he comes to church with me (although they're often buried beneath eager member-missionary smiles and home teaching lessons), that I didn't mind having one sent my direction. It was nice, for a change, to be someone with an identity that I was willing to defend, and at the same time to feel no real need to, and to know that Sam would defend me if need be. He'd protect me from attempts to convert or judge me the same way I protect him. I'm Mormon; he's Catholic; we're married, and we're both fine with it. In that little room behind the altar, this seemed surprising all over again. Surprising, but sweet.
|the interior of the church|
The church wasn't packed today, since it was mid-day on a Thursday, so I set her down on the tile floor and let her crawl around. She slapped her baby hands against the tile as she crawled back and forth, stood against the wall and smacked it, crawled over to the big rocks that held the doors open and stroked them, tried very hard to pick up (and presumably eat) a mysterious bug, managed to put a tiny rock in her mouth (which I dug out), and made her way out the front door until she reached sun-baked tile which was so hot she stopped, blinking up into the sunlight.