“Suggested donation $10,” the box solicits through its slit of a mouth. I stuff a 10 in there, just to shut it up, and enter the sanctuary.
My mind is a mass of arrows pointing inward: I’m such a career woman in my sweater with shoulder pads! And it cushions the strap of my bag. Double-duty fashion. These pews are like Victorian British women – so stoic and stiff. I’m going to sit on one of them. Is it sacrilegious that I’m coming to this church only because Vince Guaraldi once performed here? Not nearly as sacrilegious as that gay man taking a picture of his boyfriend praying. Are they joking or serious? Am I enraged or envious?
But the arrows multiply and overlap and fade – like the opening credits of Charade – and I am silent. Silent under these canopies of stone, these glowing embers of stained glass.
Organ chords emerge, as if from the earth’s core. The choir enters. “Shield the joyous,” they sing. Every voice is a ribbon, swirling through the room, encircling hearts and suspending them. Suddenly a small crowd of tears gathers in my eyes, confused, overcome; we all look to the altar. God? What would you have me be? What would you have me do?
But I close my eyes, and the crowd disperses. Go home now. There’s nothing to see here.