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Measuring by the mite box - The Galveston County Daily News : Guest Columns

April 21, 2015

Measuring by the mite box

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Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2014 12:00 am

The Episcopal Church is a weird denomination, really. In America there are about 2 million of us, and probably almost that many who don’t fully agree with the professed dogma of any of the others.

And if you ask them why, they will often tell you that it is that absurd ability to differ that is the reason they love the church.

Just think how this would go over if the Roman Catholics tried to pull this on the Pope.

Bishop James Pike, a California Episcopal diocese head, a few decades ago, decided that he didn’t believe in the Trinity. Any other church would have pitched him out. While the majority of the Episcopalians thought he had lost his marbles, to excommunicate him would have been so un-Episcopal in nature that they let him stay.

“California has a way of messing up the thoughts of otherwise ordinary, rational people,” my dad said as his way of not taking Bishop Pike too seriously.

At the start of Lent, at least it was the case a long time ago, Episcopal churches passed out small cardboard boxes called mite boxes, to its members, regardless of age.

At Galveston’s Trinity Episcopal, you were to fill them up with your daily loose change as penance for some known sin you committed that day.

Barbara Bornefeld Kelso water skied, shot pistols at the rifle range, soloed a Piper Cub single engine airplane until she came close to crashing it and was always late leaving home for church, using that as the reason to justify her speed-breaking car trips there.

On the way, she would let a few mild cuss words fly in the direction of a law-abiding driver who was causing her to have to slow down. After all, it was he who was going to cause her to have to follow the service’s processional rather than be in her pew when it started.

Even though she was tall and good looking, made her debut at the Artillery Club and did some girly things such as paint with watercolors and regularly go to the opera and the symphony, she blamed her unorthodox female behavior on having been raised with her brother, Buddy.

During Lent, she would give up cussing at drivers. She would put her mite box on the Ford convertible’s console. When she’d slip and use one of the four letter words she had given up for Lent, she would say, “He deserved it. God, you know that,” then fish around in her purse for change to feed the mite box.

At the end of Lent, she would measure the success of her Lenten cuss word fasting by how few mite boxes she had filled throughout the prior 40 days. The number of filled boxes was usually about the same from year to year, give or take one or two.