Were You There?

I don’t know if it’s legal to take pictures at a polling place – but yesterday just felt so much like something historic – even before the results – I had to capture the moment. To me, it was a powerful privilege to be participating in this election. When I think about it sometimes, it causes me to tremble…. tremble.

It was a little weird, voting as we did in a church. I don’t want to think too hard about the whole separation of church and state thing. Downtown Dad and I are good neighbors, and honest people with a spiritual belief, but save for weddings, funerals and the odd election, we rarely darken the door of religious establishments.

We tried, back in the early nineties, dutifully taking the kids to services and Sunday School, singing the hymns, sometimes in silly voices to keep their attention. One hymn we always looked forward to was the Eastertime favorite, an African American spiritual called Were You There When They Crucified My Lord. Downtown Dad would wait for the chorus, a repeat of the title, followed by a long “whoooa- oh- oh -oh” then a dramatic “sometimes, it causes me to tremble… tremble” and he’d sing it in an Elmer Fudd voice – slightly off key, replacing the r’s with w’s, and exaggerating the vibrato, making the tremble sound more like “twem-bo.” Cracked us up, every time. But besides a few moments of levity, for the most part we solemnly recited the prayers, we fellowshipped and amened in our own voices right along with the rest of the congregation. But try as we might to lead by example, the politics and pervasive evil of a few “christians” drove us and our children away.

One of the last times we were in a church was for the funeral of one of our son Bobby’s friends. It was a very sad circumstance, he had been a very popular young man, and there was a huge turnout from the community. Bobby, as a pallbearer, sat in the front row, and DD and I a few rows back. One of the hymns, I noticed, was “Were You There” uh oh….

OK, I have to ask, have you ever been in a situation where it is absolutely inappropriate to laugh, and something happens, that really isn’t funny to anyone around you, but you laugh anyway, and not a small giggle – I’m talking a laugh that rumbles up from your belly, a boisterous crowd of laughs elbowing their way through your chest, and up your throat and then tumble out your mouth in loud snorting, guffaw, usually followed by hiccups? No? Yeah, me neither. And it never happend to DD, or Bobby sitting in the front row either.

…And when the organ music started, Downtown Dad did NOT sing that song in his Elmer Fudd voice….

Oh yes he DID!

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