How come I didn’t know about this? Scant blocks from here is a very well-endowed Christianity emporium that has obviously been around for years and I didn’t have a clue. I thought I’d have to send away for my statue of St. Mary of Egypt but here it is right here and in more than one size. Or if I wanted an icon of St. Mary of Egypt to hang on my wall here it is, or a pendant to go around my thickening neck. Pendants of every Saint you ever heard of and dozens and dozens of Saints you never heard of. Right here. In a tall spinner rack and all along half a wall and this is only the beginning.
Vestments? You want vestments? Get ’em here. Racks and racks of vestments. Books. Paintings. Censers. Votive lights. Images of the big guy, long, flowing locks, handsome tanned white face alive with niceness, with beatitude. You know what? Jesus Christ may not have looked like a bad actor movie star. Has anyone considered? Don’t matter. As for crucifixes? One stop shopping.
We saw a votive light we liked but it had no price tag on it. We took it to the counter. A small silent women wearing a blue smock took the thing and went back to a corralled-off office area and sat at a desk and computer screen for about ten minutes trying to track the thing down. Finally she returns. “Six dollars.” We think it too much and choose one a little smaller for $2.50. It’s a nice dark blue glass votive burner. They may be called tea-light burners or holders elsewhere, but around here they’re called votives. Remember that.
We’re out of tea-lights. In fact it’s the reason we’re here. We usually buy them at Ikea in Richmond but since the strike out there haven’t been going and we’re out. We’re kinda romantic and like the mood set by a few tea-lights burning of an evening. They sell them here. Unlike the ones sold at Ikea these come from the U.S.A. and are about four times as expensive as the Ikea-ers. Everything in here is pricey. Is that because churches have lots of money? Could be a connection. We’re not here to criticize but to observe and hopefully to learn.
The music is weird. Not loud, but weird. It’s coming from a CD player near the point-of-sale. Sounds like choral hymns but then the choir breaks into a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Seems a tad incongruent.
Saint Mary of Egypt. I met her before. Patron saint of penitents. That’s you and me. We mess up and we’re sorry and promise to do better next time. She banished herself to the desert and lived a life of extreme asceticism in atonement for what she considered her misspent youth. This was back when the years only had three numbers to them. She survived exclusively on what she could find out there in the sand, which wasn’t much. I don’t know. Somehow I identified with that. But our take away today is a votive and box of 100 tea-lights. $30.