The Mass was held in the chapel this morning, not in the church. And, actually the chapel was the converted basement of the rectory. It looked every bit of a converted basement: the low ceiling, the shelving along the sides of the wall, the metal supporting pole in the middle of the room supporting the ceiling. Then it had added features: the 12 pews, the statues standing on the cement shelves lining the walls, the gold plated Stations of the Cross hung at eye level leaving less than a foot from the frame to the ceiling of each station, and the shuffling of feet from someone upstairs.
It was cozy, truly like being in someone’s basement: there was an old “Italian” man, an older woman, maybe from Hungary, and another woman leading the Rosary when I first arrived. Then came the thirty-something-year-old Spanish guy, the 40-something year old Asian woman, a 70-something year old couple, and 4 generations from one family. The mass was being said for the “great grandmother” who passed away last year. The family’s ages ranged from 93 to 2 years old. Quite an eclectic bunch….not that much different than the eclectic bunch of stuff in my basement right now!
So I thought about what a basement meant to me……It meant:
- A playroom
- A place where time is measured and told in loads of laundry cycles
- A place where time was passed while pushing water out with a broom when we flooded
- A Christmas Day or Commack, Long Island with Susie singing “Take Me Home Country Road” on her guitar
- Great, loud, and never sleeping Slumber parties
- Secret phone conversations linked by the long kitchen cord into the stairway to the basement for at least a little bit of privacy for an adolescent
- My teenage bedroom and family room
- And my childhood Church…….the Folk Mass at St. Joseph Church where Dad and I were readers and my friends and their parents played acoustic guitars and strummed, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, By our love, Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love”.
On Saturday, the basement chapel was the foundation for the rectory and the place for Mass. However, the basement, more importantly, is the foundation of my spiritual journey from a long time ago! It felt safe and right being in the basement with a group of people I have never met before, yet we were all at home in God’s basement.