Today I learned Lesson #5462 that was missing from my seminary instruction. I'm not sure where this lesson would have been included. If it should have been slipped into feminist theologies (which was not an actual class I took, but a recurring theme) or worship or sociology or even church history. But, it was certainly missing for no one prepared me for this moment.
I was having lunch with four elder members of my congregation. Excuse me. I was having dinner with these four lovely senior members of the congregation at 2 pm in the afternoon. It was an invitation that I agreed to thinking that "dinner" meant an evening gathering at 5 pm or so allowing me time to nap instead of rushing from worship to coffee hour to youth group to "dinner" (which in my case was actually breakfast). This is an interesting lesson about New England that would have not featured in any seminary classroom discussion. But, I do find it amusing.
I was invited to share in this meal and fellowship with these four wonderful people. We laughed and giggled as we shared food. I felt myself become slightly weighed down by the very rich, very creamy food that graced our table. We chatted and talked about worship and church life. It was really a lovely meal that concluded with coffee and sweets. And then, we retired to the sitting room to continue our conversation and giggling.
As I rose from the table, I realized something unsettling. Not only was I uncomfortably full, but I became distinctly aware that if I wasn't yet bleeding, I would be soon. The kind of blood that would remove me from being in the company of some Jewish men. The kind of blood that makes me impure. The kind of blood to which some of my sisters celebrate its monthly return. The kind of blood that I dare not speak its name. And of course, this was the time that these four lovely elders of the church wanted to learn those things about me that had not yet been revealed. This was the true bonding time. And I was bleeding.
Go and get a tampon and be done with it. That's what you are thinking, right? Yes. Well, that's a lovely idea and I really would have loved to. BUT I did not have any supplies in my purse. I had nothing. And I was bleeding. Or if not exactly then, soon. I could not go to their bathroom and poke around hoping to discover some lovely feminine product. There are some emergency tactics that I suppose I could have used. But, I didn't. I sat there in my beige suit shifting awkwardly and watching the clock while conversation wondered.
And I sat there praying. Oh God. Oh God. How do I excuse myself? This has been so lovely and I would really love to stay but... Um, I'm bleeding. I prayed and prayed that I would have the sense to know what to say in this moment that was never offered in my seminary instruction. Because really, how do you excuse yourself from a group of elder women that have just finished a conversation about menopause to say that you really must rush home for a tampon? O Holy Sophia, help me now. I managed to finally excuse myself claiming that I must nap. O Holy Sophia, I think that was the wrong exit but forgive me please because I'm bleeding.