Thursday, July 21, 2005

Chapter 8

The Messianic Congregation we attended was an odd group, really. There were some families who could have been described as mainstream, middle class people, but there were also the strays, the troubled, and the occasional transvestite.

We were part of the fabric of the place.... Here you can see the the podium cover (hanging beneath, only the velvet part shows when its on the podium) and the Torah curtain I made for them. The symbolism of the curtain is the "tearing" of the curtain in the Temple. Rich, on several occasions mentioned cutting this piece in half to "complete the symbolism." Not only would it then look like velvet "cafe curtains" but it would also mean destroying a piece of my artwork. He knew that would hurt me and was trying to manipulate me in every way knew.

There was most certainly, an "inner circle" comprised of Rabbi Rich, his wife (more later)several "Elders", and the leader of the "Music Ministry". She projected an aura which was like a tall fence. She was very large, and her influence appeared large as well. She acted as the secretary for the group, and really she seemed as "inner circle" as you could get. It wasn't until we were leaving for good that we realized what an act that had been, and how hurt she was.

They really wanted us in that "inner circle" because, dare I say it, we were very presentable. My husband had a decent income, a fine accent, and we had kids. But I never trusted Rich after that first attempt at counseling years before, and that proved to be our lifesaver. He was the the type who knew how to undermine people with their personal information: "Perhaps your unwillingness to accept what I am telling you is because of the abuse you experienced from your father" Maybe he only tried this with women. It's a classic tool of control freak men, and I can see it coming from a distant galaxy far far away in time to take cover.

It is that intuition that some considered to be one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I don't know, I think it may be just experience, but I know it got up Rich's nose. We just wouldn't cooperate with his plans for us.

It was about this time, my husband was faced with a choice. He was considering starting his own business, and then his parents offered their shop in Ireland. I jumped at the chance to go to Ireland for several reasons. It meant we could leave New England (Yeah!!) and it also meant we COULD LEAVE THE MESSIANIC CONGREGATION! (you have be fairly desperate to consider a move to outskirts of Belfast , Northern Ireland a step up....) We decided to give it a shot, and go over for a few months to see if we liked it.

When I announced this to Mrs. Rabbi Rich, she looked at me as though I had cast aspersions on her favorite cole slaw recipe. She was a formidable sort of person, who had never really intended to be a "Messianic Gentile".......(yeah, digest that one....) and when she'd met her future husband back at bible college, this whole Messianic thing wasn't even on the horizon. But to her credit, she was homeschooling her children, and was the only licensed driver in the household. She approached her role as the "Rebbetzin" ( Yiddish for rabbi's wife) with gusto, even if she didn't have all the information. This is why she once asked me, when I arrived for Yom Kippur services in a nice white suit "What are you all dressed up for? What's the occasion?"

I was summoned to a meeting the next week to discuss our proposed three month leave of absence. This took the form of a "Kangaroo Court" where I sat in the middle and she and her hand maidens questioned my judgment: "How can you leave us when God has just begun a work in you?" I knew I had to get out of there fast.

So off we went to Ireland.

Ireland was fun for us as a family, but boring for my husband professionally. He wasn't meant to be a shopkeeper, and I wasn't meant to drive on the wrong side of the road, but we didn't figure that out til about year later when it was time to really commit to it. My older daughter attended the local kindergarten and my younger daughter attended the free daily playgroup sponsored by the British government. (Socialists do some things well.) They both began to develop adorable Ulster accents in time for us to board the plane and come back. We fully intended to return to Ireland in about six months.

We showed up at the Congregation and I was feeling light and happy because I knew we were leaving. We found a very different place. The large woman who lead the singing had left in high dudgeon, and the transvestite, bless his poor soul, had taken his own life. After the service, Rabbi Rich approached us with a big welcoming smile and an outstretched palm. I said it looked as though it had been a tough few months for the group, what with all that had happened. He replied:

"No, it's been great. Praise the Lord. We are moving from strength to strength"

Some poor guy is dead, and the leader of the music group is gone and won't talk to anyone, but this constitutes a great few months.......hmmmm.

To be continued..........