It's a soft warm weekend in Reno. It feels soft because there is more cloud cover, but it's finally warming up. So the air is warm and it feels balmy. The sun is mitigated by the humidity--we don't quite feel the penetrating rays of the sun, burning our epidermis to a crisp, as it normally does. Then the breeze comes, and it feels more like it normally does. Yesterday it was even cooler and generally breezier.
Yesterday, Saturday, I had to work at a memorial service at church. This is one of the things that deacons do, and we have had a lot of memorial services this past year. It's been about a year since the last time I served at one, which was also the first time. On that day, I had also been asked to sing during the service. I think most of the usual singers were unavailable, so they asked me, which was nice and slightly frightening. Since I had to be there anyway, I volunteered to help with the reception. That was a busy service of people who didn't actually go to the church, but the man who had died had a connection, and he was very well liked. It was a very nice service. It was kind of funny to sing, and then later to stand and ladle up cups of punch while receiving compliments for my singing. Funnier still that I ended up getting a check for it when it was the easiest thing I had to do.
Yesterday, however, the service was very small, for a man who was not a member, but brother of a long time member. It was pretty much all regular church members, no more than 30 people. We set up at noon, with ecru tablecloth rounds and a bud vase with two white roses. The long tables had white cloths with lace ones over top. The fare that is served is very simple: cookies, mixed nuts, mints and, on this day, strawberries. I put the doily on the platters, then arranged the cookies on top. First I tried a round pattern, but decided to go for radial on the next platter. Another deacon did the flowers in the vases, then yet another used some of the stripped leaves to decorate the strawberry platter. We were done setting up pretty quickly, so I went into the open library and checked out a book.
We were sitting around at the table in the kitchen, chatting, waiting for the service to start. The pastor came by and said, "Hello servants." Someone responded with " I come not to be served, but to serve." When you become a deacon or an elder at St. John's, you receive an apron on the day you are ordained/installed. It has the church logo and name, and your position, then the words underneath, Not To Be Served, But To Serve. I realized, as we were sitting there, that I was the only one without my apron, which was in the back of my car. I think it's been there all year, I have quite the collection of things I might need at some point. We chatted for awhile, about books and other services, then I ran out to the car to get my apron from the trunk. I tied it on over my funeral dress, a long somewhat shapeless lightweight dress in navy blue sprigged with dark gold flowers. I wore a similar dress, though not the same one, to my father's funeral. This one serves whenever I need something suitable for a church situation where I'm not trying to be bold in my style.
There wasn't really much to do once the people came out and were eating, so we talked with them about other things. We talked about children's choir and the China trip and the music we were going to sing tomorrow. It had the feeling almost of being an after church social. After awhile, we decided to change out the deacon tablecloth rounds and replace them with colorful ones from the closet. The deacons keep their table decorations separate, so that they look nice for the memorial service receptions. We put on colorful table cloths, but left the bud vases on each table. At one point I amused someone with my attempt to fold up a round tablecloth, so I decided I needed more practice. We finished cleaning everything up, and then I went home. Three hours on a finally warm spring day in June, helping to support those whose loved one have passed out of this life.