15 Feb Going to Church to see the Vienna Boys’ Choir
I’m not religious at all. And, at the risk of making my mom angry, I don’t actually believe in a god. So, you know it was strange to find myself in church in Vienna, without being dragged by family. I guess I was sort of dragged by friends but it was to see the Vienna boys’ choir. I’d always thought the choir was a show or a concert. And maybe it can be at times, but while we were there, they only performed during mass. And the good part about that, is that we could go for free. The bad part is that we didn’t see them sing, only heard them, and we had to sit, no stand, through a German mass.
We got up early, the four of us, and walked to the Hofburgkapelle near Michaelerplatz. Walking in the early morning in Vienna, of course the quietness of the city, my favorite time to see places, made it less painful. But my lack of breakfast reminded me of being young, waking up too late, and rushing to church. I would steal mints from my grandma in the hopes that I could trick my stomach into not being hungry. There was no grandma for mints in Vienna.
We went into the courtyard leading into the church. Already there were people standing around. There was a mixture of people, those in nice clothes, and hair that didn’t look like it’d been slept on, or just pulled back from the shower. They were the ones who came to church either regularly, or as a special privilege.
Then there were the people like me. The ones who, like me, came to get in for free. Not saying we looked grubbing. But there was a look of wrinkled clothes, not perfect hair, and eyes that said, “I hope this is worth it.” We had to go to a ticket counter where we asked for standing tickets. We didn’t have to pay, as it’s first come-first serve, but we still needed a ticket, and then to wait in line in front of anxious people, all ready to get in and get started.
When we got inside the people who paid for tickets were taken to the seats in the front, while all of the poor, or cheap people, like me, stood in the back. The hanging Jesus was up front in front of the window and, it creeped me out, like it always did. Even when I did go to church I wasn’t Catholic, so we didn’t have Jesus’ around everywhere. But not long after we all crowded in the back of the room, the mass began. We heard singing, from the boys, and we learned they were above us, the a balcony directly over our heads so we couldn’t see them.
And I tried to follow along with the mass. I don’t know German, and I don’t know the order or process of mass. My friend Michelle would whisper to us once in a while, explaining what they were doing: gospel, homily, prayer.
I will say I’m glad I went. I have heard the Choir in Vienna. But I haven’t seen them. Or rather, I forced myself to do something I don’t like: going to church, in order to see, hear, something that’s at least mostly worth it. It wasn’t like I’d visited the Taj Mahal or climbed Everest or something. But it’s still on people’s lists of things to do. It was on my list, I guess. Or rather, it is now, of things I’ve done. And I’ve always heard that doing things you don’t like, or don’t want, are the things that teach you the most, allow you to grow the most, or are the most worth it.
In this case, that’s not really how I feel. But I still went to church despite not wanting to. So that has to count for something, right? The only question is who did i score points with for going? Myself, or something bigger?