The heavy wooden door, leading into a cathedral styled sanctuary, swung heavily inward as a boy of twelve stepped inside an old Baptist church. As he stood in the light of electric chandeliers and looked up at the stain glass windows on either side of the room, a man two feet taller and thirty years wiser walked up to the boy and extended a hand. With a formal hello and a handshake, the man led the boy towards the front of the Sanctuary. The man led him through a choir door on the left side of the Sanctuary, into a choir room behind the Sanctuary stage. In the middle of this room, four white couches sat around an old, brown, coffee table. While the man withdrew from the room through another door, the boy sat down on one of the couches and made himself comfortable.
Alone, within the pristine walls of the church, the boy sat with one foot on the ground and with the other foot resting on the coffee table. He was bound for sleep until a door behind him opened. The boy lowered his foot from the table as a girl, nearly the same age as himself, and as a woman fifty years her senior entered the room. The two of them said hello to the boy, and sat down. Then the girl and the woman resumed speaking with one another about this and that. The boy soon lost interest in their conversation and stood up from the couch to pace around the room. He was less than five feet from the sofas when the man returned to the room, through the door behind him. Seeing the man, the boy returned to his seat. The man sat down on the couch next to the woman, across from the boy, and the girl sat on a third couch between the three of them. As they sat in this half circle, the man and the woman prayed aloud over the coming baptism, while the girl and the boy listened to them pray.
With a solemn, “Amen,” the man and the woman stood up from couch where they were seated, and gave the boy and the girl final instructions before leaving the room through the door behind the boy. As they left, the boy sat back in his couch and the girl sat up on hers. She smiled and introduced herself to the boy, who bashfully exchanged greetings and sat up in his seat. For the next several minutes, the girl tried to start conversations of various sorts, but the boy was a shy sort of person, and he didn’t pick up well on social ques. At any rate, she didn’t give up and she eventually came to the topic of the day. The boy listened with growing attentiveness, becoming comfortable with the conversation. At a certain point, the boy even found himself attracted to the girl, though he was at best a year younger than her. There was something about the girl’s character that was intrinsically appealing. She was beautiful in the way books are beautiful. That is to say, as beautiful as the girl was on the outside, she had a soul that was infinitely prettier.
As the two sat next to each other like this, the boy’s nerves slowly ebbed away from the event at hand, and he looked forward to the baptism. It was then that the girl said something unforgettable, and the boy clammed up at the sound of it. While talking about the baptism and about faith, the girl asked in the simplest way possible, “aren’t you excited?” and the boy thought long and hard about this, but he could not bring himself to respond. Rather, he just nodded his head with closed lips. Smiling, the girl replied, “me too.” As they sat like this for a few moments, the boy could not bring himself to look at her. He would glance up at her and then look at his shoes or at the clock in a far corner of the room. When the doors finally opened, and when the man and the woman reentered the room, the girl was still smiling and the boy was still looking at his feet. The man and the woman gave a white gown to both of the children, and escorted them to the choir changing rooms, behind the sanctuary stage.
As the boy stood alone in the changing room of the old Baptist church, he thought long and hard about what happened that afternoon. It was akin to recapping a dream while living in a dream. He couldn’t tell which way was up, he cried a little over his confusion, and he left the room in a daze.
Outside of the changing room, the man greeted the boy and led him up to the baptismal steps, behind a walled off part of the stage. The man took the boy’s gear, and brought it back to the choir room, as the boy stood with empty hands, on the steps of the baptismal. He stood alone for several minutes, thinking about the day and going over the girl’s words.
The daze lifted quite suddenly, as he felt the hairs on his back stand up and as he felt a warm body stand next to his. The boy looked over and saw the girl standing in a white gown. She looked back at him and smiled. Even here, looking eye to eye, the girl’s soul was brighter and more beautiful than the white gowns they both wore.
The service began minutes later, and the man reappeared on the stairs opposite the children. He stepped down into the baptismal and invited both the boy and the girl into the water beside him. As the children stepped down into the water, the boy looked out to the stage and saw the woman who prayed over them, standing amongst the crowd. Even here, the girl’s soul burned brighter than the stage lights.
The children were baptized that day, to the sound of applause and to the welcoming arms of friends and family. As the children were led from the baptismal to the audience, people embraced the kids and showered them with congratulations. In the midst of all this, the boy kept looking back at the girl. She seemed so happy before, and now she stood and looked like anyone else. From a distance, it looked as though the light had gone out from her face, but this was far from the case. As the girl turned and looked one final time at the boy, she smiled at him, and a glimmer of light shone from her face, as she and her family left the sanctuary.
That was the last time the boy saw this girl. Though he tried for years to find her, or even to remember her name, she was gone. Like a leaf in the wind, she blew away and the boy never found her. The boy’s memory of her face eventually faded into obscurity, and any inkling of memory concerning her name was lost forever. Nevertheless, the boy always remembered her the way people remember good books. Though the cover faded away, the story remained and stayed with the boy for as long as he could remember.
Welcome to the blog! I've republished some of my favorite entries from previous blogs (found in the archives) and I am constantly creating new content for this section. As with the rest of this website, I hope you enjoy reading and exploring the many ventures I am undertaking. Thanks for stopping by! - Chris