Today’s Easter Sunday, so I felt somewhat obligated to go to church today. I am a Roman Catholic, but I can’t even remember the last time I went to church. So, feeling somewhat chagrined, I got into my car at 7:20 this morning to drive to church so that I could catch the 8:00 mass.
I arrived at the church about half an hour early, but the parking lot was already full when I got there. Luckily, I was able to hunt down one of the loan spots remaining. Satisfied with the prowess I showed in snaring a spot that wasn’t miles away from the front doors, I sauntered up and into the church. As I strolled up the aisle, I looked around, noting how much things had changed since I last remembered. There were new windows, stained glass murals, some new paint, and a bunch of banners. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “it really has been ages since I was here last.” And then it hit me.
I felt my throat clenching down, making it difficult to breathe. At the same time, my nose started running and my ears started to ring, both feeling like they were going to explode. “This church is trying to kill me!” my panicked brain exclaimed. Something in the church, likely the incense from the Easter Vigil mass the night before, had ticked off both my allergies and asthma. It was making my body turn against itself in a violent way. And I didn’t have any antihistamines, Kleenex, or cough drops. And I could barely breathe. All in all, things looked grim.
But then, a flash of brilliance hit me. I slipped off my coat, tossed onto a vacant space on a pew to save a seat for myself, and then dashed off to the nearby washroom. The doors and lack of good ventilation in the washroom was my saviour. It stunk to high heaven, like usual, but the toxic incense from the rest of the church hadn’t seeped in there yet. The stench was a fair trade-off for being able to breathe. Plus, I was able to arm myself with some makeshift Kleenex, also known as toilet paper. I stood there in the washroom for the rest of the half hour before mass began. Then, I braced myself and headed back to my pew.
All I can say is that I made it. I spent the entire hour-long mass with a head that was on the verge of spontaneously combusting, not to mention my difficulties breathing, but I managed to make it through the entire mass. Then, when the mass was over, I bolted for the doors in the most respectful way possible. Stepping outside, I was finally free of the toxic fumes. In addition, my mad rush to get out of the church resulted in me being one of the first people out, making it easy to get out of the parking lot for once.
My peril at church has taught me a valuable lesson: going to church is hazardous for my health.