Chunky Photojournalist Barbie arrives early at a Catholic Church to photograph a First Communion mass. She checks in with Father Ken, who is, upon first impression, seemingly easygoing, young, and handsome. She introduces herself, runs through the usual questions about protocol (same as always), using a flash during mass (please don't; no problem! especially with amazing new camera), then asks where the children are lining up for mass or their procession (downstairs in the social hall.) Great!
CPBarbie shoots almost an entire 512 MB digital card of adorable and possibly portfolio-worthy shots of children about to receive first communion. She knows the ones of them, nervous, lining up just outside the sanctuary, hands folded, in bright light streaming in from the open doors and stained glass windows will be great for A1 next week.
Mass. The usual. Stand up. Sing. Sit down, etc. Chunky Photojournalist Barbie sings quietly along to one of her old favorites because it's really just a beautiful song.
"This is the day that the Lord has made./ Let us rejoice and be glad in it./ This is the day,This is the day...."
Nonetheless, CPB is not participating in the service, because even if this was still her chosen faith community, she is here as an observer. She wouldn't kneel or get in line for communion, even if she were still a genuflectin,' sign-of-the-cross makin,' sacrament takin' king of girl. Which she's not anyway.
The church, like most Catholic Churches, has a long aisle with pews on either side of it. At the of the aisle, there are four or five few steps up to the altar where the priest stands. On one side of the center aisle, these is a lower platform, with two or three steps, where there is usually a statue of Mary, a line of candles, a kneeler. In this church, there is an unadorned platform on the other side. This particular church comes in extra-wide variety, with side aisles and more pews up against large stained glass windows in the wings.
Because this is a Saturday mass just for Skipper and her friends taking first communion, only the pews adjacent to the center aisles are full. So Chunky Photojournalist Barbie places her camera bag and other things on one of the outer pews and stays off to the side (the unadorned platform side) with her telephoto lens, a good 50 feet from any parishioners. She sits occasionally, but mostly stands around quietly to, you know, work.
She checks her watch, because even though she is here to take photos of first communion, she needs to get to the marina on the other side of town where a different priest is blessing the local fleet, starting in... eek! 18 minutes.
The digital card of great images is now full. Around the time of the Sign of Peace, CPB puts in a new digital card. The sign of peace is one of the best parts of the Catholic Mass, hands down. Everyone stops to shake hands, hug, introduce themselves. It's really just lovely. She fires off a few frames, watching a little girl squeeze her mom's hand, and thinks about how she used to like to run her fingertips over her own mother's perfectly smooth, always painted fingernails in church. She thinks about her friend, the one coming to the end of his battle with a terminal illness, who always used to flash her a peace sign in church during the Sign of Peace, when they were 12 and 10 and their families were in the habit of going out for breakfast after mass.
The priest begins blessing the communion wafers and wine. Everyone kneels. This has got to be the last shot, even though there won't be photos of Skipper and Friends actually receiving their first communion. Still, it will be communion-y enough to round out the story.
She is standing off in the wing, right by the unadorned platform, still 35 feet from the nearest parishioner. Instinctively, Chunky Photojournalist Barbie steps up onto the bottom step of the low, side platform, to get just a little higher angle. She's looking through her telephoto lens at a child kneeling in the front pew.
The rest of this story happens really fast. She hears a loud noise over the church's public address system, but it doesn't register. BANG! Father Ken smacks his body mic. She looks up, and he is POINTING right at her! He yells,"GET!"
Get? She freezes.
"GET OFF THE SANCTUARY!"
Wha? Oh, God. The step to the unadorned platform. "NOW!"
Bright red, CPB gets off the step. The parents' video cameras continue to roll. A CCD teacher mutters an apology. She grabs her things from the side pew. She flees.
Mortified, she cries in the parking lot. It's really just humiliating more than anything. She starts to drive to the marina for the Blessing of the Fleet. It's a rabbit's warren of streets around here, and seven minutes later, she's still crying, reaching for the map, when she sees children in First Communion clothes running down come steps. She smiles, thinking what a nice shot that would have been if she'd been assigned to THAT parish, when she sees SKIPPER.
She has driven in a big circle. Father Ken is right there on the sidewalk. CPB takes deep breathes, fumbles with a tissue, approaches him to apologize.
CPB: Look, I just (hic) wanted to apologize. I was just going to go, but I really wanted to say I'm sorry.
FK: You WHAT?
CPB: I'm sorry, I didn't know...
FK: You need to THINK! You need to respect people's RELIGIONS! Would they let you up stand on a step to a platform with your camera at your SYNAGOGUE?!?!
CPB: (Bewildered and weeping) My...syn-? I'm sorry?
FK: What on EARTH would you STAND during the Eucharistic prayer?
CPB: Well, I wasn't *participating*, I was standing way off to the side, behind that pillar... and
FK: You were totally distracting the entire time! I tried to catch your eye a few times.
**** If this is true, then the Sign of Peace would have been the perfect time to quietly and discreetly approach Chunky Photojournalist Barbie, when everyone is shaking hands and hugging.*****
CPB: (tears really flowing now) Look, I didn't know. I'm just here to say I'm sorry. I'm not sure what I could have done differently other than- (His eyes widen with anger; CPB steers away from that one FAST)- For you to have stopped the children's mass on their special day to shout at me, what I did must have been really terrible and-
FK: It WAS! We welcomed you into our church, and you disrespected it! Would you do that in a synagogue?!?
CPB: Wait, I'm not.. I don't know what you're talking about...
FK: Were you raised CATHOLIC?
CPB: I'm not here to discuss my religion with you. I'm only here to apologize, sincerely. (His faces softens.) I'm absolutely mortified.
FK: (At that, he just gets a look on his face that can only be described as "Really Pissed Off.") Yeah, well...
CPB: So I'm sorry. That's all. (makes a movement to leave)
FK: (shrugs) You cooked your own goose.
CPB: (over shoulder, walking away, murmurs) Humiliating...
The worst part is, in her haste to flee, CPB left the full digital card, the one will the gorgeous, portfolio-worthy, A1 deserving shots on the pew. Numerous phone calls and a stealthy trip back to the church when Father Ken was tucked away in the confessional have, to date, unearthed nothing.