Wear Pants to Church Day

Formal dress pants: Showing your Downeast Outfitters floral skirt who's boss.

Formal dress pants: Showing your Downeast Outfitters floral skirt who’s boss.

I’d like to say a few words about Wear Pants to Church Day. I’d like to be clear that my goal is not to change anyone’s mind. My goal is to explain why I feel the way I do about this event.

The purpose of this event is for women to reconnect themselves and those they love with the Book of Mormon assertion that “all are alike unto God.” Some comments on the event’s Facebook page have argued that church is an inappropriate forum for such a demonstration or that women already enjoy full equality within the LDS Church. To these views, I have two responses: First, church is a meant to be a place where individuals with all sorts of different views and experiences can come together to nurture one another as saints and to learn how they can use their unique and beautiful talents to glorify God. And second, it’s easy for the socially advantaged to see their view as normative and any differing stance as opposition.

The religious experience of a Latter-day Saint is inclusive. For as long as I can remember, I have seen my identity in terms of the LDS Church doctrine. From a young age we sing, “I am a child of God.” As young women we recite, “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him.” As adults, our Relief Society Declaration reminds us that “We are beloved spirit daughters of God and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.”

In addition to defining our very being, religion is a source of emotional strength, spiritual nourishment, and social support. When stressors arise, religion is a source of direction, of peace, of counsel. Religious worship provides a venue for us to commune with the Divine, to experience a sense of awe at eternity, or even to assuage the occasional existential dilemma. Particularly as Latter-day Saints, we spend hours with our ward members during several days of the week. Truly, for Latter-day Saints, the Church is central to every part of life.

Within the Church, be it in doctrine or culture, there exist constructs of womanhood that many women find exclusive and hurtful. These constructs are widespread enough to have been felt by women from diverse wards, stakes, states, and nations. When a woman feels that she is not included in the definition of “femininity” accepted by her ward or stake, she experiences a social disconnect between herself and her fellow congregants. Even beyond that social alienation, she feels that her very being, her identity, her ability to commune with her God, her right to spiritual healing, the applicability of church counsel, and her place within the Kingdom – all these are undermined.

In several posts on the Facebook page, I read comments that questioned participating women’s understanding of the words of the prophets or scripture, their motivations for participating in Sunday worship, their desire to fulfill God’s purpose for them, the integrity of their intentions, their sexual desirability, their testimonies, and the value of their opinions. Every part of these women’s place within their religion – their ability to fulfill their identities, their driving emotions, their ability to interpret spiritual guidance, and their place within the organization of the Church – was called into question when they made a plan to express solidarity by wearing a Church-approved item of clothing.

It’s fairly clear that the majority of people who oppose this event are comfortable with the status quo.These people are comfortable expressing their views in Church and are comfortable hearing others’ views. That’s because they are fairly sure that, overall, they and the rest of the congregation basically agree. This is their normal.

It isn’t mine. I’ve sat in many Relief Society meetings, hearing a definition of how men and women differ or of how women should find fulfillment, and felt the vague discomfort that if I were to express my true opinions, it would be seen as “political” or “contrary.” Whether or not anyone would actually do anything isn’t necessarily the point. The point is that a vast number of Latter-day Saint women across the globe have experienced the same thing. Clearly some stigmatization is being felt, even if those on the opposite side aren’t aware of it (Here’s a great source to learn more about the nuances of stigmatization).

No one has ever told me that I was bad at being a woman. They’ve merely repeated a definition of what women should be that didn’t include me. I’ve sat in lessons where the teachers and commenters assumed we all dreamed the same, that we all found fulfillment in the same way. They could comfortably say what they felt because they’d experienced a precedent of everyone agreeing and certainly no one contradicting. I, on the other hand, could not comfortably say what I felt. I’ve seen disparate views viciously shot down very few times, but I have seen it. Mostly what I’ve seen is the absence of disparate views. A gentleman’s agreement not to broach certain topics, which is a little bit the same thing.

I’ve rarely been told that my interests or skills didn’t fit femininity, or that I needed to pick up new ones in order to fulfill what God had in mind for my sex. I have been told, but it hasn’t been often. Mostly, I’ve attended activities from the time I was a Merry Miss that promoted pastimes and priorities that I didn’t share. My brothers were out sleeping in snow caves while I was practicing setting a banquet table and learning the tricks of makeup. They were learning to light fires while I was tying yet another quilt for some very fertile Young Women leader’s next child. I was working toward my YW medallion by creating a collage of the temple where I wanted to be married, while they were working toward their Eagle Scout by going canoeing. My male friends’ priesthood activities usually involve some form of meat and football, and my Relief Society activities usually involve a craft and cupcakes. Whether or not anyone is shoving ideas down my throat verbally, an atmosphere of narrowly defined genders has been set.

It’s natural for those who enjoy the way things are to see another view as opposition. They’ve been expressing their views among like minded individuals for years, and it has felt safe and comfortable. But to them I say, I don’t see your view as opposition. I see your view as valid, and I grant you the right to express it. To quote the Isley Brothers, “It’s your thing. Do what you gotta do.” Whatever brings you fulfillment and peace before God and man, you pursue that. You rock your identity. You live it up with your hopes and dreams. Be extraordinary and magnify the pants off your divine potential. I, and the women in this group, merely ask that you grant us the same privilege. When a woman raises her hand in Relief Society to express a sentiment you don’t share, don’t shoot her down. Don’t whisper to your roommate that views like that are why she’s still single. Instead, wish that sister all kinds of success. While you might not have the slightest idea how she could possibly be happy, be glad for her when she expresses the ways she finds fulfillment.

And when that sister shows up this Sunday wearing pants, I would ask you not to tell her church isn’t an appropriate forum for this kind of demonstration. Instead, recognize that this woman has been feeling very alone at church for a very long time. And be happy for her that today she can look around the congregation and identify other women who have been feeling the same way. Finally, within the Church she calls home, she has some proof that she’s not alone, after all.

Michal, ma belle

I once made a study of every mention of women in the Bible. By far, my least favorite bit was the life and times of Michal, Saul’s youngest daughter (She’s strewn throughout 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles).

Here’s her background: Once upon a time, David brought Saul the foreskins of 100 Philistines, and as a reward, Saul let David marry his daughter. This bit is actually pretty romantic. The elder daughter (Merab) was supposed to marry David, but she married Adriel instead, and David and Michal let Saul know they were madly in love, and he was cool with it. Saul, treacherous as he tended toward David, wanted Michal to be a snare  to get David out of the way, but Michal went double agent and kept David a step ahead of Saul’s fiendish plots.

When Saul realized Michal was selling him out, he took her back from David and married her to a guy named Phaltiel. David was true to her, though, and when Saul finally wanted to make peace, David refused to even show his face for reconciliation unless he got Michal back. It’s hard to say how Michal felt about all this, except that Phaltiel followed her along the road weeping the whole way. Heart breaking, right? Get ready for my least favorite part, though.

I get the idea things were never quite the same between Michal and David, and it wasn’t long before they had an irreparable tiff. After David was anointed king, he managed to win the war against the Philistines. To celebrate, he put on a linen ephod (which was a ritual item but apparently sort of scanty) and led a parade with the Ark of the Covenant through the City of David. Michal looked out the window at his dancing and despised him in her heart. David cluelessly went about blessing and celebrating with the people, but when he came home to bless his household Michal met him and told him off.

MICHAL: “How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!”

JEALOUSY, right? And David did not take it well.

DAVID: “It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel” (TRANSLATION: The Lord picked me over your screwed up family, so shut up! You don’t know anything about it!) “Therefore will I play before the Lord. And I will be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.” (TRANSLATION: If you don’t like a dancing husband, you don’t deserve a husband at all!!!! Say goodbye to this body because those maidservants are the only ones who are getting any of it from here on out.)

Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death. She did adopt five sons who David later gave to the Gibeonites to be slain as part of a peace treaty (But that repulsive story is for another day.), so… yeah, bum deal, right?

So, in addition to providing evidence of a long tradition of marital discord in the human family, I’ve seen a lot of morals assigned to Michal’s life. My very least favorite in the world was the interpretation that Michal was right – David should’ve been more modest in dress and action – but she needed to learn to give her husband some time to unwind after work, and she deserved barrenness as punishment for speaking out of turn. Ugh. Never tell me this is what those verses mean, or I will imagine-slap you and out loud simply stop respecting you. UGH. Oppressive patriarchy perpetuated through misinterpretation of scripture.

I talked to a rabbi about the story a few days ago, and his interpretation was almost exactly opposite of mine and also consistent with my understanding of Jewish philosophy in general. One of the basic tenets of Judaism is that God has commanded us to celebrate life. Holidays and festivals are all requisite, and you’re accountable for anything awesome in life that you’re not enjoying. So, basically, David was out celebrating as commanded and having a jolly old time, and Michal–that spoiled, bratty princess–got jealous and wanted him to only have fun with her. She was a controlling trollop who wanted David to do her bidding rather than what the Lord had commanded. I told him I still didn’t think it was fair that David wouldn’t give her any kids just for that one oversight, and he told me it was God who wouldn’t give her any kids and David had nothing to do with it. I presume some of this information was Talmudic, but I’m sure he’s also studied those chapters far more carefully (and in Hebrew) than I have, so, I’d say his ideas have some credence.

In finale, Michal had a shockingly bad home life, and I feel sorry for her, no matter how you put it. But if I have to draw a lesson from her story, I prefer the one in which life is a celebration not to be inhibited. And if you mention the other interpretation to me, ever, just be glad I don’t have mind powers or your cheek would be smarting for days.

Rosh Hashanah – September 28-30

A very belated Shana Tova, everyone! So, for Jews, there are four new years. One is for the trees, one is for the harvest, one is for the planet, and one is for cattle.

I celebrated Rosh Hashanah – the birthday of creation of the planet – with my first expedition into Jewish Orthodoxy. My roommate Lauren and I spent Erev Rosh Hashanah at the UMN Chabad house, which is probably the most welcoming place around.

And, for my comfort zone’s sake, I was grateful everyone was so welcoming because I became instantly aware that was a very different group from who I’d been brushing shoulders with in Reformed and Conservative circles. Beards, for instance. Lots of them. And side burns. Several people had the tzitzit going on all the time, and, hey, mysticism is very In.

Once the service got going, though, I got pushed even more out of both my comfort zone and the main service by way of a gender segregating partition down the middle of the room. I’d imagine this partition’s presence might be part of why the fella’s side was better attended than the girls’ side, and unfortunately it impacted the quality of girls’ side services. For one, the rabbi hangs out mainly on the dude side, and that’s where the singing gets most raucous. I wasn’t even sure, at first, if I was allowed to sing along or read aloud at first because the girl’s side was so much more reserved. But, hey, to start the evening, the girls’ side got to light candles, led by the Rabbi’s wife Chavi. I’ll need to ask what exactly that meant, but it was lovely. I don’t know why, but I really love candles.

Honey, apples, and challah

Fast forward to dinner. Judaism is all about symbolism, and my favorite bit of symbolism is that sugar signifies sweetness in new ventures. At Bar Mitavahs and before couples get married, you toss candy at them. In Church! At Rosh Hashanah, you dip apples in honey! Try it guys! Cheaper AND, I’d posit,  more delicious than caramel. Also, you get to dip the challah bread in honey, which I was told isn’t a year round thing.

Gefilte fish, which is basically fish meat loaf

Also: gefilte fish. It’s poached and minced fish all crammed back together, and I’d recommend all you carnivores get on board.

Oh, and then there was the moment when I came out as a Mormon. One of the girls asked where I’m from (Utah, dude), and she responded with, “Oh wow. Is that kind of awkward since aren’t there a lot of Mormons there?” My cover was blown, so I reveled in it by responding, “Well, actually it’s not awkward at all because” dramatic whisper, “I am a Mormon.” She got a really horrified look that I assume was because  she thought she’d offended me. Later we got in a talk about Christian versus Jewish holidays (Jews have it way better, I think; except for the whole not-getting-them-off-work thing, which has to blow), and she said she’d always been jealous of Christian holidays, like making ginger bread houses at Christmas. I wanted to let her know that gingerbread houses are pretty secular, since Jesus didn’t live in one, but I thought better of it.

Okay, so day two of Rosh Hashanah, I was accompanied by Joe. I hadn’t been able to observe, yet, if it was appropriate for males and females to make physical contact here. So, we began the evening with a science experiment: he was to warmly extend his hand to the rabbi, and then I’d see if the rabbi moved on to shake my hand. We discovered that, no, the rabbi wouldn’t touch females. Right after that I heard a girl ask a male if he shook hands, and I decided that would be my appropriate question upon introduction, and so far it has gone well.

Okay, so the service was quite similar to the previous night, but quicker. Also, as a plus, there were more girls, and so our side was more vocal, which made it fun. This time, at dinner, I came out as a Mormon more quickly. There were tons more people in attendance, and so answering questions about being a Mormon felt less like I was talking to the whole room.

Some kids had met Mormons before, though, so we bounced back and forth about having our own planets and not using technology on Holy Days and visiting the Garden of Eden in Missouri and Woody Allen and South Park Musicals and pogroms and Jell-O and gefilte fish and Pioneers and how, hey, both orthodox kids and recently returned missionaries don’t know how to deal with the opposite sex! What I learned from this conversation is that every religion is weird and externally irrational. But, having a personal relationship with my Creator is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. Even being sorta normal. This is how I imagine Trekkies feel.

Also, Jews sing at and pound their fists on the table! Where’d we Christians go wrong with misplaced reverence?

A shofar

Okay, okay, okay, so I was really excited about day services. I worked through them on Day 1, but Day 2, I got in super early so I’d be able to take off for the Shofar. Man, Rosh Hashanah day services are nearly Mormon-length (3 hours), but minus any breaks. Basically, the chazzan (cantor) is singing prayers the whole time, sometimes aloud with us joining him, and sometimes to quietly. When the chazzan is praying silently, Rabbi Yitzi would squeeze in stories. But with all the necessary prayers, it took like an hour and a half for him to get out a story that’d take about 5 minutes without interruption. But in the end it was a great story! Also, occasionally, he’d sound the shofar (ram’s horn). Also interesting: the mitzvah on Rosh Hashanah isn’t to blow it but to hear it. One HUNDRED TIMES! That takes a while.

Also, my favorite things about Rosh Hashanah is the bowing. So, apparently back in temple days, Jews would go bowing in the temple, all the way to the ground, every day. But, since early Judaism was so temple-centric, Judaism since the destruction of the second temple of Solomon has had to adapt a lot. Anyway, the bowing is pretty much gone nowadays. EXCEPT on Rosh Hashanah, which is such a holy day that it’s almost like being in the temple. So we got down on all fours and bowed our heads to the ground to God. Bowing jives with me because of its implication of absolute vulnerability and obeisance. And, since Rosh Hashanah is when you’re supposed to be thinking all about what you’ve done this year, and God is writing in his book everything that he plans to do with us over the next year, it seemed fitting. He’s making the plan, and we’re sort of responding, Hey, I’ll take it. Gladly. Thanks for creating me!

Stay Tuned for: Yom Kippur!

Up to Date – September 20

Okay guys, I intended to write individual and detailed blog posts for a whole bunch of really great experiences I had this summer. But I’m sick, which always leads me to make rash decisions. Luckily for me, when I’m sick and online, the repercussions are only the cyber kind. So, decision: I refuse to put in the up front time it would take to get myself current, so I’m going to give you a nice little digest of the rest of my summer. Then we’re all going to agree to feel satisfied with my life and times up to the present. All in favor?

Quick succession of posts:

A train: throwback fun!

May: I went to the Spiral Jetty for my first time ever. The water was candy pink. My legs got salt-encrusted. Thanks for playing photo shoot, Mike! We also saw a train.

Me at the Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake.

Such an adorable party animal!

July 15: I went to the birthday party of this really adorable baby. For the record, Arjun throws the best parties!

I made this.

 

July 21: I participated in a Relief Society Cupcake War activity. I’d been eating leftover aristocrat heads all week, so I donated my cupcakes to charity (i.e., Desiree).

July 27: Lauren and I had been apartment hunting our brains out. We took a break at Cupcake, and it was exactly like every other cupcake boutique, except that the porch was all construction rubble.

August sometime: I ate at Acadia Cafe. They have these cookies that are baked with rays of heavenly glory and delivered fresh on an hourly basis by angels from on high. So melted-chocolatey good.

August 10: My little brother Steven got a cell phone. We texted a lot, and he even took my call while he was air softing. That’s love.

August 13: I attended Shabbot at the Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul. It’s a reformed congregation, and the services there are a party! Judaism is all about celebrating that you even get to be alive, and that’s fun to do through hymns that you clap along to! Also, a little boy got to be Bar Mitzvah. His voice was changing even as he sang the Torah. And people threw candy at him to signify the sweetness of the occasion! In a church!

August 13: I ate at Spoon River, and it was sorta chintzy. It was my first experience with mock duck, and I liked it. I also had this crazy salted ice cream called Nicollet Avenue Pot Hole at Sebastian Joe’s which I’d suggest, but which Michael thought went overboard on the sodium. Hypertension!

Also sometime in August: I ate a lot of Vietnamese food in Frogtown (my neck of the woods in St. Paul), all of which was pretty good. I haven’t decided, but I might prefer mock duck to tofu. I’ll let you know.

August 14: I made some molasses bread that was not very good (Megan ate it and said nice things, anyway!), and I watched the movie Hitch for the first time, and it was very good. Laughs!

August 15: I ate at Birchwood Cafe (hipster paradise) and reunited with Marla, with whom I spent Thanksgiving in Scotland in 2004.

August 18: I attended another Talmud class as the Temple of Aaron. The main things I learned were that several favorite Old Testament books are literary fiction and historically impossible: Esther! I also learned that Jews believe the Sabbath is the holiest of holy days. So much so that you shouldn’t even ask for anything (except for health) in prayers on the Sabbath because the Lord is resting, too.

August 19: I ate at Mango Thai in St. Paul… I think I ate mock duck then, too. Both the food and the service were great! Super prompt. I also had some sweet sticky rice dessert; I want to say it was the coconut one, but I don’t want to lie to you.

August 20: I went to Shabbat at the Temple of Aaron. Larry, the ritual director who teaches my Talmud classes, asked me to read the prayer for country, which was especially sweet. It was one of the only prayers in English!

August 20: I saw Captain America. Pretty good! I agree with this review.

Lanterns at Como Park

August 21: I went to the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival at the Como Park Conservatory! The botanical gardens were cool; people in anime costumes were cool; floating lanterns all about the lake in honor of the dead was cool. Win!

August 23: I saw HMS Pinafore at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It wasn’t quite as good as the Sideshow Bob rendition, but I understood the plot this time! I enjoyed the view of the city from the Guthrie’s poorly named “endless bridge.”

August 25: I attended another Talmud class at Temple of Aaron. Larry was kind enough to tailor the lesson to my ignorant needs by focusing on the prayers of the Shabbat service. My favorite thing I learned was that one of the first things read in a Jewish service is Psalm 96:1: “O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.” This is seen as a command to daily say something new in thanks to the God. We ought to never take His bounty lightly nor forget the splendor of our very existence.

August 26: I attended a Bassordion concert at Corner Coffee in Minneapolis. Guys, if you ever get a chance to see them play, go! Well worth it. You’ll wish you’d brought your polka shoes.

August 29-September 3: I camped in the Boundary Waters. So super beautiful/relaxing/gruelling! Kayaking, canoeing, portaging, camping, relaxing. I was with an ideal group (Thanks Shanna, Mark, Eric, and Jason!). Because I have spent approximately the same amount of my waking hours watching movies as not, the experience was very LOTR-reminiscent, and we have a reunion planned in which we will watch all three extended movies in one intense 12-hour day. You can see the camping photos here.

September 5: I moved to Prospect Park! I live at the highest spot in the Twin Cities, and in the shadow of this fun Witch’s Hat Water Tower, which, unfortunately, is open only one day per year. See you there next Memorial Day weekend! Also, my room was two inches too narrow for my bed frame the way I wanted to arrange it. Fortuitously, Ranell needed a bed frame. I bartered it to her for her bike, and the trade benefited all parties. Capitalism! Later, I decided I wanted my desk to be 9 inches narrower. Mark brought over a power saw, and we made short work of it.

September 6: School started. I’m now a second year MPH student. Debt!

September 7-11: My beloved Emily came to visit clear from Salt Lake City! We did many enjoyable things together. Among which were

  • Lunch at the Wienery,
  • Finally, a heat resistant waist band. All my problems are solved!

    A visit to the Minnesota History Center specifically for the very underwhelming Underwear: A Brief History exhibit (You will not learn about Egyptian or medieval underwear, only about a few specific lines of undergarments made by the Munsingwear company of Minneapolis.).

  • We ate at Franklin Freeze in Minneapolis, which is almost exactly the same as Conny’s Creamy Cone in St. Paul. They have 24+ flavors of soft serve ice cream! I have tried three of them. They do it by taking plain soft serve, mixing it with a flavored syrup in a little shake-cup, and then pressing it through a funnel-like contraption into a cone. At first I couldn’t figure out how they fit 24 soft serve machines in that tiny place (like how fro yo places each use separate machines). These people are geniuses, and their product is delicious! Also, each ice cream cone size (small/medium/large) comes in an actually different sized cake cone! I didn’t know they made actual cones  in different sizes! But they do!
  • Dinner at Black Sheep Pizza in St. Paul. It’s a coal fired pizza place that I feel corrects everything that was wrong about Punch Pizza‘s thin crust.
  • A visit to Fort Snelling and its associated memorial chapel. We couldn’t go into the chapel on account of a wedding happening right then, but the exterior aesthetics implied an internal continuity of such.
  • A visit to the Mall of America and Paciugo Gelato.
  • Shabbot at the Temple of Aaron.
  • A rendition of Handel’s Alcina put on by Mixed Precipitation theater company at the Skidmore Community Garden in St. Paul. Guys! Go see these people perform. They are a perfect mix of delicious food samples, opera, comedy, and all around good times! These people were so incredibly talented. I wish I weren’t sick and had the temperament to write a full review of this play. Suffice it to say that Laura Hynes Smith, Jameson Jon Baxter, and Molly Pan were fabulous as the leads (respectively Alcina, Ruggiero, and Bradamante the warrior maid), and I still giggle when I think of Lauren Drasler’s part as Morgana and Walter Gies as an enchanted fountain/violinist.
  • Crowd all ablaze.

    We went to a September 11 memorial concert at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. So many religions, so homogenized. But they trusted us all with candles!

September 14: I went to a class about the history of Rosh Hashanah at the Temple of Aaron. Initially, the big deal about Rosh Hashanah was that a loud blast would be made on a trump on that day. Now the big deal is that it’s 10 days before Yom Kippur, so it signifies a time to get introspective about how you want to start afresh.

September 16-18: I went to Nauvoo, Illinois for my first time ever. This place is like Epcot for Mormons. The Nauvoo Temple is the Disney Castle of all temples: super-bright-shiny-white on the outside and super bright colors on the inside. The historical sites were all informative and interesting, and the Trail of Hope was touching.

Carthage Jail, except it was raining like it does when sad things happen in movies.

My favorite thing about the visit was Carthage Jail. We got there two hours before it opened on Sunday, and an adorable missionary couple just happened to have shown up two hours early for their shift. They didn’t have keys, and it was raining. But, undaunted, they gave us a tour from the outside of the jail. Then someone showed up with keys and we got the regular treatment – movie and inside tour. I was touched by their devotion. I was also touched by the sacrifice Joseph and Hyrum made for their beliefs, and the kindness they showed others in their time of greatest duress. I only hope I can follow their example.

Basilica Day – August 14

Basilica Day celebrated of the 96th anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary as well as a celebration of the assumption of the Virgin Mary. A big day!

We hit the 7:30 AM mass, and apparently the priest was impressed by our devotion and apparel, as he asked if Joe and I would carry “the gifts.” Not knowing what that meant, we diffused the situation by saying we weren’t Catholic and sitting down. We later learned that presenting the gifts would have made us part of the procession that brings forward the emblems of the Eucharist, which I imagine is something an actual Catholic is supposed to do.

Anyway, the service was lovely. I loved the acoustics: everyone sounds good singing in a Basilica, especially after being drowned out by a microphoned cantor.

Next, we moved out of doors, where we were treated to Immaculate Confection (virginal pun!!!) ice cream provided by Sebastian Joe’s. We also navigated a grass-labyrinth which, surprisingly, was not a maze. You just wound all about to the center, and then followed the same path back out. It was a very inclusive activity.

Fool-proof grass labyrinth