I added a wide, warm scarf as I left the house Wednesday evening. It was still cold in March and getting colder towards night. As I drove down Wisconsin Avenue I saw a big flag being whipped fully stretched out by the wind, and it never fell back toward its pole. I didn’t want to be out in that cold wind but I was going anyway. A siren started a ways down the road behind me. I kept track of the police cruiser in my rear view mirror. It didn’t turn so I pulled over to the right to let it go by. Instead it pulled in two cars behind me. Was I being stopped? The car behind me being stopped? Neither, it seemed to be stopping at the Psychiatric Institute, a residential facility. As I went a block farther another police car passed me from the other direction , lights whirling, to the same destination. Oh no, I thought, what poor soul is having such trouble there to draw that kind of assistance?
On Irving Street I found an easy parking spot and started the familiar walk to my church. Alertly I crossed the many intersections, sometimes waiting patiently for the walk sign, sometimes jaywalking carefully. I saw the tall steeple , sharp against the deepening dark blue sky. The clock face in the steeple was a warm lit yellow-white with its dignified roman numerals. The wide stone stairs to the church were flanked by lanterns with flickering warm lights from candles. Battery-lit, I knew, but nevertheless inviting the visitor in.
As I entered, the wind wanted to take the heavy door from me and I smiled at the greeter as I used both hands to determinedly pull it closed behind me. I didn’t want any sound, as I knew the next room would be the quiet sanctuary. It was quiet, though in the low light I could see many people were there. Softly I made my way up the aisle, looking for that space that would feel comfortable. I settled into a short left-side pew, empty but for me.
I could see the back of the chorus director at the piano bench. I could see a sliver of the guitarist behind a pillar. I kept my coat on for a little bit. I settled my two feet flat on the floor and I uncurled my hands and placed them softly palm down on my thighs. And I took a deep breath. And another.
To be continued.