Last week a co-worker's mom died, and I went to the funeral with another co-worker. Let's call him Mr. J____.
There was a reception before and the service after. I had previously polled the office to see if it was appropriate to attend the actual funeral of someone you had never met, if you knew the bereaved, and they said yes, yes it was. It wasn't the burial, just the funeral. Lutheran funeral.
We debated a little bit about staying for the service. I was pro-service: Mr. J____ was cautiously "Whatever you want." So we sat down, and I was ready to sit through the funeral with all my defenses up. You know, the anti-emotion shields you have to use when they play hymns and talk about death. I was safe in my bubble when the priest began.
Priest said something and Mr. J____ crossed himself, and I thought, "Oh, this was a bad idea."
I'm not proud of that thought. I suppose I was thinking other people had bubbles, and we'd just sit there in our religion-proof bubbles and ignore the funeral, and not participate. And then when Mr. J____ crossed himself I realized that other people do not use their bubbles and here I was sitting next to someone who was going there, going into Religion Zone, and I was not prepared. Especially since I'd never noticed the religion side of Mr. J_____ at work.
We have not yet had a Bring Your God to Work Day. He's Catholic. Who knew?
So I thought, "Okay, I see your crossing move, and I raise you a hymn." I must have been the only one singing. I think the first note I sang full on, then geared down into sotto voce, because I could see the lips moving but I could not hear ANYONE singing.
Afterward I told him how odd it all seemed, and he said "Of course, it went against the Separation of Church and Work." And that was right on the nose.