Cult or Religion?

November 30, 2009

I am astonished to see the crowd already gathering in the hallway.  I thought that I would be here early and be able to accomplish my Christmas tasks ahead of time. I had thought that the congregation would still be under the influence of every day life and would only start their period of reflection on Christmas Eve.

 

I was wrong.  A somber throng is steadily gaining numbers.  At least we are sheltered from the cold drizzle.  The dark winter coats shuffle forward to make room for dismayed newcomers.

 

Parents make their way to the left of the cathedral-sized foyer.  A childcare area has been set up and they crowd around a harrowed young man, thrusting their children towards him with pleading eyes.

 

“Take mine!  Take mine!”

 

They go willingly.  A label is placed on each small chest and their wrists and those of their parents stamped with tattoo-blue numbers.  They go so trustingly, without a backward glance.

 

I notice that the elderly form the advanced guard.  They seem to appear at the top of the queue as if by osmosis.  I see a bird-like woman who arrived after me, shepherding her apologetic husband to the front.

 

A large man blocks the way.  He wears the vestments of his profession, a blank expression, and the bearing of a bouncer.  Most surprisingly, he holds a chunky walky-talky which every now and then, crackles to life.  He turns his back on the crowd in a semblance of discretion and grunts important-sounding, but unintelligible words into it.

 

I wonder why a place like this needs someone straight out of the special forces?  This group is clearly as docile as all the other pilgrims I have ever seen here.

 

There is nowhere else like this in the region and people visit from far and wide.  They inhale the purified air and revel in its clean, orderly lines.

 

I can imagine living in a place like this.  If I spend long enough here I can convince myself that this is how other people live.  There is a utopian sense of well-being and community spirit.  Smiling children wave from posters, ecstatic with whatever this noble institution has bestowed upon them.

 

The atmosphere is reflective and respectful.  I can see that each person is filled with purpose.  This is, after all, a time of year to think about family and remember what is important.  This seems to be the place to come to do that.  I can’t imagine why the wall of a man at the front needs a baton dangling from his belt.

 

Then I do.  He steps aside and the crowd surges forward.  The Bird Woman bolts out of the starting gates and ducks down a side passage, her husband scuttling after her.  I follow, a few dozen people behind.  My purpose should take me into the main part of the building but the tide is against me.

 

I watch couples separate in a carefully choreographed division of labour: trays and coffee cups, pastries and orange juice, before a perfectly-timed regrouping at the till.

 

Then I see the sign and understand.

 

“Ikea Breakfast 1euro!”

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18 Responses to “Cult or Religion?”

  1. Monkey Man said

    A wonderful description of our Black Friday. What is it called over there?

  2. It is called anything as far as I know – Hell maybe? Thanks for stopping by. I will be visiting you this evenung!

  3. sinkuenta said

    I really thought you were describing Lourdes (as you live in France) and the pilgrims getting there to be healed… haha In retrospect I see that everything fits into place. I am looking forward to one of your first printed copies, don’t forget!! and thank you for your stories that enrich my life.

    • Let me tell you this. I have a list of ten people who have encouraged me on this path right from the start. You of course are on it. There is a book incubating out there with your name on it Sinkuenta and depending on how well it does, a ticket to the first book signing!

  4. sinkuenta said

    Kerry, I really feel honoured to be on your list… I can forsee the moment I hear that your first book has come out and I’ll be very proud to have contributed a tiny bit to your future success… Thank you again for your texts that make me believe in the human race. Love

  5. Boomer said

    I could hardly believe my ears when my almost-89-year-old dad told me he and his wife never went home after Thanksgiving dinner. She is a “Boomer” shopaholic. She kept him out ALL.NIGHT.LONG shopping. No doubt, my mother rolled over in her grave…

  6. What a great description! I was so engrossed in it, I was disappointed to see the end! Loved it! Thanks for stopping by my blog and please check back today, I’m giving away a pair of amethyst and diamond earrings on Sunday!

  7. Mirella said

    THis is so funny Kerry!!!! LOL LOL! I love it!!!! Keep surprising us:)

  8. Jennifer said

    Good story.
    I was pleased and surprised by your visit. Thank you for your very kind words about my daughter. They helped me this AM.
    I’m interested to know more about you now. jeNN

  9. For someone I have never met, you have been on my mind all day. But now we have met and I wish you the best day possible.

  10. I had to visit after seeing your poignant, kind remarks about my poem on Tuesday’s blog. The story I have found here is delicious! You masterfully withheld information, creating a wonderful mystery. You left me smiling. I will visit again!
    Chris at Enchanted Oak

  11. You can put the descriptions together my deario! And we will read them. We will gather in the hall and try to be first in line to read them.
    Jan aka Crazy Jane,
    ps – are you sure you want to live in Toronto? It’s kind of big and smelly – it is very nice out here on the slow coast.

    • After your visit I went in search of photos of Prospect Bay. It is sooo beautiful. I read a book a while ago set in St. John’s and a short story set in Nova Scotia. Sounds rugged and l stiff-ocean-breeze-in-your-face invigorating. I will need to hand deliver my first book to you to thank you for your encouragement so will come and check it out!

  12. shadow said

    ha, you had me there, all the way… nicely done!

  13. Stacey M said

    I did not see that coming! Well done!

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