Church

~ a poem

When you walk inside church, everything seems to change. Everything.

The bustle and the sound and the substance of the world outside of these walls is markedly changed from its inside. Is this the separation of the sacred? Just an old building, after all; but it’s not. That is because the people inside act and dress differently.

As a child, an awareness fast comes — whether it is from your parent’s shush or from simple observation of your surroundings — that this is a place for quiet. For calmness. And for old people.

It is a place for songs, but not fun songs. There are robed men intermittently talking from pedestals. You misunderstand their words.

Incense and stained glass, each signify a world beyond, a time and space past what we Men can fathom. Mortality is drawn into mind at the sight of Jesus on the cross. He is spotlighted, well-carved and colored with crimson in all the right places. You wonder at the pain. His face is cast down, stilled and crestfallen yet strong; He is infinite in his virtue, as you are constantly alighted by every word spoken from The Good Book.

The book is sliced up in missives now, ones with schedules and contemporary bindings. The same set of readings seem to pass through your ears, year after year. It was a long time ago that you really thought about any of this. Communion and Confession soon misalign. Love of God is sensed in all these things in this house. Where was God?

As long as you keep coming, all these feelings stay, if only unconsciously. Every time you come to church it is the same. You are not.

Like Jesus, you have no say in this. Time moves forward. Fate flies fast.

Death comes for us all.

Is that not why you are here?

In those first steps under the steeple,
through the threshold and among the silent elders,  
from that first kneel at the pew, 
somewhere inside your first hour of disciplined silence before the only collective activity or will left within the community, 
within moments of prayer as cosmically transient as any of our lives — you made a choice.

When you go to church, you make a choice about everything. ~