I was about 15. The church stood abandoned and dark. We rode our bikes past it almost everyday and it was a mystery to me and my friend, Mike. I’m not sure what brought it to mind today but I remembered a hot summer day when we decided to satisfy the curiosity.
It was easy to open the door. It was locked but not tightly and before long we were inside in the dark. Somehow it felt cool in the heat but a trickle of sweat ran down my temple and my spine. Hardwood floors worn with the years of worshipers feet coming and going, mostly on a Sunday. Maybe a Wednesday prayer service too but mostly on Sunday.
I don’t remember the church ever in operation. It was always empty when I was a kid. Next to it was a cemetery that I helped keep mowed at one point in my life. I had a great grandfather buried there. His name was Sylvester and he was married to Lucinda. Stories were told about how he was married to 3 women and they were all named Lucinda. Mowing was summer work that made me a few dollars but that story and the one about Sylvester is for another time.
The church was mostly empty. A few old oak pews, a table and some stairs that led up to the bell tower. The belfry.
It was getting late and the heat was rising. Heat like that made me think of the ‘hell’ the preacher talked about in my own church. He talked about it with passion. The passion of a man trying to tell you about a real and present danger. He tried to invoke the fear of hell. I felt a bit of that fear as we trudged up the stairs.
I knew that church was empty but as we got further up the stairs we began to hear sounds. Bats? Bats in the belfry? Rats? Squirrels? Not sure but we kept going up so the other would not know we were afraid. Funny how that works. One pushing the other on. When the direction and goal is a noble one that is a good thing. If the goal is not so noble… Well, let’s not go there right now.
As we got to the top we ran out of stairs. They just seemed to stop at the ceiling but a little closer look and we saw a trap door. A push and it was open. It was then I saw the glass. A simple rose colored piece of glass set in a frame. Looking out it gave the world a different feel. The heat was intense up there in the afternoon sun but I don’t remember much of that. I remember it was really tight up there and I remember the bell was gone. I also remember what it looked like outside through that glass. Rose colored glasses but different. Funny the things we remember.
We got down out of the tower, walked quietly across the dusty hardwood floors and out the door. We closed it as we stepped out into the fresh air that felt cooler even in the summer heat and rode our bikes back to the house.
Somehow that rose colored glass still tints my vision at times. Seeing positive when all around me is negative. It’s a choice to see the positive.
What do you choose to see?
Thanks for listening,
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