Most people aren’t immediately aware that becoming a member of the church automatically enlists them to freely give of their time or money throughout the year to help with various church organizations and events. Upon registering with my local church to become the godmother of a friend’s child, I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t see that first philanthropic phone call coming.
Church committees are sly about it, initially calling on a weekend night when inhibitions and guards are down. As I looked at the caller ID and picked up the phone, I remember thinking, this must just be the movie store calling to remind me my movies are overdue.
That happens a lot.
Five minutes later, the guilt from saying no to cleaning the church that next Sunday set in, even though I was legitimately out of town and unable to help anyway.
I’ll give it to those committees – they are as steadfast in their phone calls as they are in their faith…faith that they will eventually convert me into a minion to do their bidding, that is. Newbies are predictable, I guess. It wasn’t two months later when I received my second phone call, this time requesting watermelon for a salad luncheon.
It wasn’t a request though, as much as it was an order, sent from God Himself through the soft-spoken mouth of a Catholic Mother.
Oh, He’s good.
How do you say “no” to that? Ya can’t. And you certainly can’t say you’re busy or “accidentally” forget about it, because they ask you well ahead of time, before you have a chance to make weekend plans.
Catholic Mother: “I’m calling to verify you’ll be bringing 12 cases of root beer to the root beer float box social on Aug. 13, 2014?
Me: “But that’s almost two years away…”
Catholic Mother: “Make it Barq’s. ‘Preciate it!”
And, they send out reminder postcards now. Like dentist offices. Like save the dates. Except this time, you’re saving the date for your (God willing) eventual entry into heaven – one gallon of cubed watermelon and dusted pew at a time. In the constant battle between laziness and guilt, guilt wins every time. Then again, I suppose that’s what being a good Catholic is all about.
A week later, I’m teetering in my high heels across the church parking lot before work, a gallon of watermelon in a plastic bag (They’re also very specific about what they want. The reminder postcard is basically like a ransom note: “We’ve got your soul. Bring a gallon baggie of watermelon cut into cubes no larger than one inch if you want to save it.”) weighing me down, but lightening my conscience. As I smiled brightly to the two elderly women accepting food, I noticed there wasn’t even a checklist from which to cross out my name in pen, permanently acknowledging my gracious contribution.
I reminded myself that God is omniscient.
Let’s fast forward to two months later. As my family and I sat in church a few Sundays ago, a reminder of the upcoming annual bazaar boomed in my ear. My brother, mom and dad all smiled at me knowingly, beaming with pride that their daughter has finally taken on a responsible role within the church.
…it was coming.
The phone rang last night. Running on the treadmill, I wondered again who was on the other end of the line, thinking it was my friend calling from his landline since he had just gotten back into town to visit for a few days.
I’m like one of those kids who answers the door even though they see Stranger Danger and a white, unmarked van on the other side. I just don’t learn.
This time, the ante was sufficiently upped.
I had a choice (that’s what SHE called it, anyway). I could help the Catholic Mothers (yet, couldn’t help dwelling on the fact I was NOT actually a mother) cook pounds upon pounds of roast beef on Thursday and Friday or I could monitor the roast beef for hours on Sunday. Because I work Thursday and Friday and knew I wouldn’t even be able to monitor my own heart rate if forced to watch over roast beef for hours on end, I was given one last choice:
I could donate $10 to the bazaar fund and make two desserts.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am so willing to help out, especially for the church and for any good cause. I want you to know that this blog and my stubborn will associated with it is all in good humor. That being said, the request seemed a little much for how frequently they contact me. If there are 400 people in this church and this organization calls all of them to contribute, couldn’t we just all bring one dessert and $10? Can’t I just sit the bench on this one event?
It seemed I couldn’t, because I was getting played.
As she got off the phone, she reminded me that they strongly prefer the desserts to be homemade. I guess Fiber One Chewy Bars “fresh from the oven” are out of the question.
As I write out my check and look to Pinterest for some good dessert recipes, I can’t help but wonder what the next few years of phone calls may bring. One day in the future, will I be asked to:
1. Write the homily?
“Father decided to go scuba diving this weekend. You don’t mind, do you? Make it about sheep straying from the herd.”
2. Teach bible school for the day?
“You don’t have a record, do you? Fantastic, be there at 8 a.m. Oh, yes – the kids will be terribly cranky from just waking up. You’ll be fiiiiiine.”
3. Be a better Samaritan?
“What you’re doing right now is good, but it could be better. Now if you gave me that Starbucks iced vanilla latte you ordered, that would be a step in the right direction…”
4. Fast for the month?
“So go ahead and don’t eat hardly anything this month. We’re all taking turns. For Jesus. By the way, can you take my turn? I’m up for next month. Thaaanks.”
5. Make the wine?
“It’s easy, all you have to do is grow some grapes, harvest them and make the wine. It’s not like I’m asking you to turn it into Jesus’ blood…”
7. Repaint the parking lot lines?
“But you said you were an artist…”
8. Come up with a few new hymns?
“The standard Alleluia is getting a little worn. Maybe try some gentle, G-rated rap – the parishioners will LOVE that.”