I see the church standing there everyday on my walk to work, at a busy intersection in the heart of Mirvish Village, and I think how miraculous.
I’m hardly in churches. My first time, I was in elementary school because, in their gratitude to some helpful and determined neighbours, my parents took me to a church for Sunday school. A show of goodwill, a polite gesture (nothing actually promised).
I remember it was dark and I remember the happy smiling triumphant faces of the neighbours, a husband and a wife, as they lead us into the church.
And I remember it being dark. Dark inside the church as we walked through the heavy wooden doors. Light filtered through stained glass, deep reds and blues I hadn’t ever seen before. There were seats like benches and a sort of fountain full of still water.
I don’t remember thinking much about the water because (I’m told) I stopped and stood transfixed at the figure thrown in contrast by the windows, nailed to a cross nailed to the wall of the church.
Thin emaciated naked save for rags strewn around his delicate waist. His face a mess of agony, blood streaming freely from the thorns wound round and round his head.
His weird muscles. And nails right through the palms of his hands. More blood. I close my eyes now and imagine dirty fingernails.
Actually, (thinking now), all nothing I hadn’t seen before.
But for that save for that beard.
My god, that beard.
I was only five, maybe six. I lived a very sheltered life, school and home and adults with no beards. None of the men in my family had beards, or attempted them. None of my teachers had been men, or had beards.
My god, that beard. Too much too far, already asking so much to begin with.
I cried and screamed (I’m told). I cried and cried and cried (I remember). Inconsolable willful desperate child! The neighours, appalled dismayed embarrassed, told my parents to take home. I was never asked back. My parents never went back. No babysitter. Oh well too bad.
And I think thank heaven for, you know.