Oy vey! What a Day.
First, we were late. Or Alicia kept reminding us that we would all be late if we didn‘t shake a leg, and as usual she was right. So I drove like…well, I drove really fast, trying to prove her wrong. Failing that, I dropped her and the boys off at the front door, and then went and parked the family van in the sun.
By this time, she and her Sunday school supplies rushed inside, plus our two boys, Elisha and David. They all vanished from sight behind plate-glass double-doors that lead into the lobby. So I sat and listened to a broadcast of some historic interview of the Beatles on the van’s radio for a few minutes before going in.
Then my next plan to go sit in the lobby and read the paper until the service began had to be changed. An Elder and several teens had already claimed the chairs there, so I wandered on upstairs. For a time I gawked at lots of pretty bad art some hopeful artist had hung on the hall walls, and then I took a seat inside at the rear of the sanctuary. There I caught the last half-of an on-going discussion about membership, and ways for the church to grow.
I heard some rustling behind me as things wound down, so I turned to see a handful of small children standing in the main doorway, with an adult holding them back. As soon as the pastor dismissed the grown-ups, the little crowd entered the room, filling it with sounds of giggles and sheets of paper each child waved in their hands. I had to navigate my way through the cheerful throng, careful not to step on anyone, and go find David who I saw as missing.
Alicia must have him, I figured, after scouting the lobby down below, so I went back inside to take a seat near the front. I sat half-turned for some time, waiting on them to show. When she walked in alone, I got up and went to meet her.
“He’s downstairs, and he won’t listen. You’ll have to go get him.”
And with that, Alicia say down, in a slight huff. I marched off in a bigger huff, determined to “set that boy straight”. The thing was, I couldn’t find him. The lobby had cleared out. Vacant. I strolled down a hall, and checked the men’s room. Nothing. I took the elevator to the lower level. There his name echoed with no answer.
I rode up one floor to the lobby and walked back up the stairs just in time to hear the pastor speaking over our sound system. Standing just inside the doorway, I waited until he prayed before I walked forward. Tapping Ali on the shoulder to call her outside, I motioned for Eli to come as well. We all left silently, knowing the search was on.
While going down the stairs, I must have mentioned her failure to hold on the elusive boy properly, which didn’t calm her down at all. She charged ahead of me, going for one of the huge glass doors.
For an instant, I held an impression of a Garfield suction-cup doll as Alicia stood plastered against a tall window next to the tall door, but with both arms held down at an angle, rather than up.
Then she bounced backwards a step away from the glass, grabbed her nose with both hands and yelled out.
I don’t recall what she yelled out. Just think what you might say then, even while inside a church. Another lady heard it too, and she came quickly to offer help. Tissues and blood, mixed with moans and groans and patting of the shoulders soon got things under control, so Eli and I went off the find the absent one.
David had found a patch of snow outside, and had already built the head of a small snowman, which he held in a pair of gloveless hands, when I found him.
“Drop that snowball right now, mister, and get your (blank) inside this instant!”
David understood that, even if he didn’t want to, so in we both marched.
I tell you, it is hard to sit up at the front and worship with a clean heart while your mate sits in the back, pressing a bag of ice to the center of her face. But I imagine it must have been difficult for her too, as well as little David.
It just has to be up-hill from here.