Experiencing Jesus washing the feet of his disciples

This is not going to be a polished post. I have let so many opportunities go by because I didn’t have the time to sit down and write a nicely crafted piece on what I wanted to say, so here goes.

Yesterday, in the Catholic religion, was Holy Thursday. It is common for all churches to have a mass and reenact Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as he did at the Last Supper. Last night was no exception.

Normally, we sit in the pews and the group of men sit in the front of the altar while Father washes their feet as Jesus did so long ago. For our church parish, it is normal for a hymn to be sung at this time. My hubby was the musician for last night’s services and he has been suffering from a sinus infection. It is so bad that he sometimes sounds like he’s drowning. Last night he decided to play an entire verse of music before beginning the singing, rather than jumping right in with the lyrics.

Before he could begin singing, our associate pastor, Father Ding, stood up and walked to the altar and opened the book. He began reading about the washing of the feet as our pastor proceeded with the task. He read a passage and then paused, read and paused, and continued on in this manner until the washing was complete. With the background music and his intermittent reading, it allowed the congregation to listen and meditate on what was being said. Instead of merely “watching” the reenactment, we were brought into the scene along with those having their feet washed.

Normally, those having their feet wash experience what it was like, while those of us sitting in the pews are left to “watch”. With Father’s reading, he allowed us to experience what the disciples must have felt.

Then, during the procession around the church (and I’m sure there are more appropriate terms to use), there was silence until the priest began using the incense in front of the tabernacle. At that time, instead of music and singing, hubby sang the song acapella. In years past, there has been music and singing for the procession. The silence was much more reverent and added to the service.

After mass, we took Father Ding to a hospital in New Orleans to visit with one of our parishioners and friends who will be with the Lord soon. We were discussing how reverent the mass services were with those changes tonight. He shared with us that he felt called to do something and he stepped up to the altar with no idea what he was going to do. He thought about singing and jokingly said he didn’t want people to laugh at him (he was joking, he sings quite well) but in the end, he felt moved by the Holy Spirit to read as Father washed the feet.

Father Ding is retiring in a few months and we have been so blessed to have had him with us this past year. He is a wise man and blessed with the Holy Spirit as we have witnessed many times. We witnessed him invoking the Holy Spirit as we prayed with our friend. There was such a calmness and peacefulness in the room. I would consider myself blessed if Father were around when I am dying. He has a compassion that we don’t often see and when he prays, it comes from his soul.

That’s all I have for right now. This was a blessed Holy Thursday this year.

The Shyster's Daughter by Paula Priamos

 

The Shyster’s Daughter is a wonderfully written charged memoir—utterly absorbing and packed with sharp details. Direct, evocative, emotionally honest, brave, and funny, Priamos’ voice shines.The Shyster’s Daughter is a suspenseful investigative journey, but its emotional core vibrates with Priamos’ homage to her deeply flawed and deeply loved father, and to their complicated and enduring relationship.”—Victoria Patterson, author of This Vacant Paradise and Drift

The last time my father calls is shortly before the anniversary of his disbarment to tell me he’s just cheated death. On his end, there’s background noise—a restaurant, a bar or somewhere far sleazier. Since the divorce he licks his wounds at a topless strip clubinGarden Grove called the Kat Nip.
The Shyster’s Daughter is a detective memoir of a Greek family living in Southern California in the late 1900s. The author, whose father was an attorney with clients who were often questionable characters knowing a side of him unseen by his family, looks into his death and finds more questions than answers.
 
Paula Priamos
 
Paula Priamos‘ writing has been featured in various magazines and in the anthology Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. She teaches at California State University and lives in Southern California with her husband and stepsons. This is her first book.
Guest Post
     In The Shyster’s Daughter I tell two different stories.  The first one is the story about my father’s mysterious death.  The night before he died he called to tell me he’d just cheated death.  A gunman in a ski mask had approached my father’s car and threatened to blow his brains out.  Typical of my father, a big mad Greek defense lawyer, he instinctively flipped the gunman off, then drove away.  The next morning my father was found dead.  This phone call has haunted me for years and it was only recently that I was able to confront what that’s meant to me, being one of the last people he spoke to leading up to his death.
     The second story is about being raised by my father and heeding, as a teen, his blunt advice on important things such as dating.  “Never trust a guy whose car is too clean.  A sure sign he wants to keep you in it too long.” Or my philandering yet charming uncle’s words of wisdom, (he briefly lived with us and was also a defense lawyer).  “I shouldn’t be telling you this,” he said to me, “but I don’t want you getting hurt by a man like me.  Make no mistake, they’re all like me.”
     In the book I tell dual narratives, sections every couple chapters titled “What They Told Me After He Died,” which the reader can participate in figuring out what must’ve happened to my father that night.  These quotes are from family members, former clients and shady people who knew him the last years of his life after he was disbarred for embezzlement.  The other narrative is linear and gives life to my relationship with my father, the sometimes comical ways he took care of me like spiking my orange juice with ouzo when I complained in the middle of the night of a sore throat or emboldening me with words of resilience when I felt at my weakest.
     My book has been called a detective memoir with shades of L.A. hardboiled noir.  And while I am flattered at those who take the time to analyze the construct, at the heart of The Shyster’s Daughter is a daughter who loved her flawed and oftentimes very funny father and became a much stronger woman for it.
My Review:
          Having read many memoirs over the past few years, I was not especially intrigued by The Shyster’s Daughter. The story has its uniqueness, as each memoir does, but I felt the story was a little mundane at times and I found myself skimming the pages. I was also a little distracted by the grammatical errors in the book.
 
          Having said that, the author did a great job immersing the reader into her Greek culture, and the way the culture reflected in the behavior of her parents, grandparents, and extended family.
 
          The author’s family definitely had its share of shadiness and troubles and I thought the title quite appropriate for the book. I thought it admirable that the author was so candid about her father’s shady business deals, something most of us might be tempted to hide from the world. The author also showed great courage in confronting the sexual abuse as well as her own craziness in stalking her father’s girlfriend. The fine line between loyalty to self and loyalty to children was crossed many times in the author’s life and her story reflects this.
 
          From the book: “The final lesson he (father) would teach the daughter who stood by him after the break-up of the family is perhaps one of the most important he ever taught me. It’s not so much that he didn’t want me to completely love Jim and start our own family, but rather that I remember to fulfill my dreams and goals along the way.”
 
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