Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter and Chinese Restaurants


In honor of Easter, I am posting a little excerpt here from a chapter in my forthcoming book, Americashire: A Field Guide to a Marriage. It's all about the lovely Cotswold village church we sometimes frequented while living there and how I managed to relate the resurrection to our local Chinese restaurant.


...Well rested and hangover-free, we made it to church the next morning. We were greeted by the usual suspects, our six elderly ladies and the fiftysomething man who I suspect attends mostly out of civic duty to the golden girls of his village. The upside of a measly church population is everyone gets a job. Jean says matins when Godfrey is tending to another church, the lady who drives her red Nissan Micra like a bat out of hell for the couple of blocks between her cottage and the church reads the Old Testament verse, the lady with the Danish accent takes the New Testament, the gentleman collects the offering and rings the bells, and Dorothy, in her orange peacoat, recites the Collect. This last one is my favorite. Dorothy’s prayer reads like an ├╝berletter to Santa Claus, her requests ranging from a pony (“good health for the Queen”) to a trip to the moon (“peace on earth in our time, Lord”). I say this not to poke fun at her earnest and childlike approach, rather in humble admiration of a person who has managed to retain these qualities after ninety years.
I, on the other hand, am totally godless. That’s the only way I can explain why Jean’s Lenten sermon made me think of the saga of our local Chinese takeout place. Jean was preaching about when Jesus had to prepare the disciples for the fact he was going to die. They responded with the textbook five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—not unlike my fellow villagers and me when faced with the recent shuttering of Dynasty. But then, just that week, we had been given an early Easter miracle. D, playing the unlikely herald, burst through the back door of the cottage asking if I wanted to hear some fantastic news. He was so jubilant I was sure that Inspector Clouseau had been fired. But no, he brought good tidings that the Dynasty woks were firing once again, like a phoenix risen from the ashes. Just like that, Kung Pao chicken Friday nights were back. I suspect Jean would fail to appreciate my loose interpretation of Easter theology, but it was nearly spring and I was taking my themes of rebirth and renewal where I could find them. I didn’t know it yet, but I was going to need them.