Installation Shot

About this Conversation

Little Cayman, poem by James Stone Goodman

Kim's blog on Neve Shalom

Joan Lipkin

Kim Mosley

. . . tie with a painting of a church on it . . .

Little Cayman, British West Indies
Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dear Kim:

Most Sunday nights I watch the L Word on Showtime. And if I’m feeling like the television equivalent of eating a Twinkie, I might tune in to Desperate Housewives.

Tonight, I went to church.

(Kim: There is such an incredible contrast between L Word/Desp. Housewives and church, especially when you, Joan, become the performer at church.)

I have been talking with the staff at the resort all week. The two things that come up the most are family and God. So how could I not go to church?

My cousin Rhena, who is getting over a bad breakup and has come down to join us for a few days, doesn’t understand. She was raised Orthodox and says she would never marry a man who wasn’t Jewish.

I say, for myself, I don’t care. I am more interested in whether or not someone cares about social justice issues, has a capacity for both conversation and quiet, and likes to read and laugh and dance.

When I tell her that I am going to church, she asks if I am anti-Jewish. I tell her my going isn’t about that. I am a guest in this country and, if church is so important to these people, I want to respect them and to share more of their experience by going.

It is a short walk, less than a half a mile down a deserted road. I am met at the door by a white man in a tie with a painting of a church on it who asks me my name and introduces himself.

Besides me, the pastor, his wife and daughter, there are six people there.

A Jamaican man named Brother Fernando gets up on the pulpit and says, “There is a big party at the Hungry Iguana tonight because they are celebrating someone’s birthday. So we may not have many people. But we are celebrating Christ so we are in a good place tonight.”

He gestures to me and says, ‘You are very welcome but no need to keep looking at the door because there will be no more people tonight, this is it.”

Although the church is nondenominational Christian, the pastor Daniel Shroy went to Bob Jones University in South Carolina for five years so we use a Baptist hymnal. The melodies are easy and clean. I enjoy singing with everyone.

We stand to sing such songs as “We Will Glorify,” and “Victory in Jesus.” After we sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” Brother Fernando asks if I, tonight’s guest, will sing a solo.

(Kim: So many people (like myself) would have wiggled out of it, though I’m not comfortable at all singing unless I’m alone and drunk.)

Holy moly. This is a far cry from karaoke.

I think of some of the music with which I was raised, of all the years of Sunday school.

I briefly contemplate "Shalom Havarim" and then decide that would make my presence more complicated tonight. I am not interested in calling attention to myself. It isn’t that I want to blend in. I just want to support and participate.

Somewhere from the recesses of my memory, I recall, “Come in the Room,” a gospel song that my brother learned when he was friendly with a minister who worked at our high school as a printer.

I stand at my seat.

Brother Fernando, who I had met on his bike as I hurried down the road asking directions, shakes his head.

“No,” he says. “Here, up here.”

I walk to the pulpit and thank everyone for their hospitality. From somewhere, I do not know where, I think to dedicate the song to my mother, who is struggling with her eyesight.

The minister nods in sympathy.

I sing,

Come in the room
Come in the room
Come in the room
In the prayer room.
Jesus Christ will meet you.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit greet you
You find joy, unspeakable joy in the room
In the prayer room.