Saturday, December 16, 2017

When Service Begins (Day 332)

When service begins, she is looking to her right, at an ostentatiously pious, balding man and his younger wife, who seems ill at ease. Whether she dislikes being in church or simply being next to her husband is difficult to say.

In California, she thinks, looking out at the wilderness of the unmown field next door, everything, even church, is more comfortable, natural and easy.

The little boy just in front of her just turned seven, and can’t open his hymnal to the right page. When his mother reaches over to help, he jerks the book and turns away, wanting to do it himself. His mother sighs audibly, and a tiny surge of annoyance ripples through their neighbors.

Looking to her left, now: A very large, very rude woman, who never sits in the rear, though she always arrives late, and who, every week, manufactures an opportunity to proclaim herself one of the few Native Californians in the congregation. 

Since moving here with her son, weekends have been lonely. It is hard to meet people, when everyone spends so much time in their cars, commuting and running errands. Always, sitting in traffic. 

At first, she actually tried walking to the grocery store. But, in that brief quarter-mile, she attracted so many pitying glances and offers of rides or assistance that she, too, took to her car.

The woman next to her settles back and relaxes, her thighs spreading a bit as she does. It’s a comforting feeling, this sudden body contact. Anyway, she thinks, wouldn’t it seem antisocial, somehow, to pull away too soon?

When the service ends, she is glad to step into the glare of the parking lot. It feels so good, relaxing her face, not having to smile any longer.

(c) 2017, by Hannah Six

Stained Glass Window, St Michael's Church Linlithgow

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