The Young Man attends Church…
It was a Sunday in December, and the air was crispy cold. I wear a beard most days in the winter, but on this Sunday I shaved. As Auntie would say on Sundays, “today is the day of the Lord.” Out of respect for her, I wanted to be presentable for both her and her church friends. I stood outside and waited patiently as she finished dressing. I wore a large overcoat to protect my body from the cold air. My face was whipped by the wind, and I could taste each chill on my back molars. The metallic cold breeze that I tasted with each northwest directional wind gust made me periodically have shivers through my body.
Some time had passed since I had stepped foot inside a church. These past few years, I would sometimes drive Auntie to church. I would sit in the parking lot waiting on service to finish so I could take her back home. Auntie’s car always came equipped with a .38 special in the glove compartment. So as she saw it I was still serving the church by playing the role of security officer.
You might ask…”why not just go inside?” But for me, walking in a church just meant revisiting death. The death of my father, the death of my mother, and the death of my sister all weighed heavily on my soul. I could see the pain on my sister’s dead face, a sense of relief on my father’s dead face, and the “strung out high” on my mother’s dead face. Death’s grip looked different on each person, but the outcome was the same. They were dead and I was here to live a journey without them. Would I see them again?
Going to church always felt like a theatrical show. I would get dressed to impress people I didn’t know, and talk to people I would otherwise never talk to. There were days I came to church a believer and left church a non-believer. There were days I came to church a non-believer and left church a believer. Today was a new Sunday; and I honestly felt indifferent about this day and the ultimate experience that I would have. First and foremost I was there to be with Auntie. She’s always been good to me and she loves me.
After driving for 20 minutes, we arrived at the church. I pulled into the parking lot and I parked close to the building. The older sisters of the church were walking with purpose in their high heels toward the entrance. Did they feel “the spirit” I wondered, while lightly chuckling to myself. I always thought their feathered hats would fly off when they walked that fast. Honestly, I wanted to see a hat fly off, but it never happened. The older women all looked the same. Their left shoulders slightly elevated due to their Bibles being pressed tightly to the left side of their chest; their right shoulders slightly slumped due to heavy purses being carried in their right hand.
As I walked I looked to my left and saw Mr. Bill and his family. I didn’t want to be bothered with work drama, so I politely waved and kept my distance. As we entered the church the ushers greeted us with bulletins and envelopes. The sanctuary was filled with energy as the bodies of the parishoners swayed to the left and right while clapping their hands with joy. The opening act of the theatrical show was just beginning and I wasn’t sure if I was ready or prepared to sit through today’s show. Auntie always sat in the third row which is to the left of the Pastor’s view. Being in the Pastor’s view was important for her. We found our seats and I stood quietly. I paused, and in a moment of reflection I softly asked, “to the God that knows me…where have you been?”
Author Sam Blakemore, August 8, 2017