A chance to fill the space with words.
If only I could find the words, or the idea to put into words.
The ideas, they don't come. The memories seem stale and rehashed. The words to fill out those cobwebbed pictures of long ago are missing.
Sunday morning and I was at the church. It was a brick building with a white steeple just a block from the College of Charleston. We used to park behind The single building that was C of C and walk that block. I would spin the iron stays that held the pale green shutters open during the week as we walked past.
The church had been there a while. Sitting in the pew at a very early age receiving pinches from my mother to sit still I had to face front. One particular Sunday the preacher, an old grey-haired bespeckled man in a dark robe walke up into the pulpit.
"Good morning brothers and sisters," he said moving out from behind the Bible stand. His robe was covered in dirt and debris. There was an inaudible gasp from the congregation. To my little boy brain his clothes looked familiar, after all mine looked like that every day.
"I continue to tell you that we need to take better care of our church. And week after week it seems to fall on deaf ears. The collection plate continues to come back with coins instead of dollars as well as empty pledge envelopes.
"You see my robe? It's covered in dirt, cobwebs and debris. Are you interested enough to wonder why your preacher would show up in anything less that pristine garments? Mmm, I see a couple of faces in the pews who seem interested. I also see those with closed eyes emitting snores."
That comment sparked several snorts from husbands whose wives elbowed them. One of those was from my granddad. I almost laughed out loud but another pinch changed it to an loud ouch which assured another pinch. I looked at my mother frowning in silent plea. Her stern look in return was rewarded by my sliding back in my seat bringing my feet to the edge of the hard wood seat, hands into my lap and face forward.
"I figured it is time to bring forward proof that we need to give if we want our church to remain standing. It has become dire. I pray every night that as a congregation we will show the Lord our appreciation for His loving kindness by providing our tithes and offerings so that we may show we are worthy of the responsibility of stewardship."
When money was mentioned everyone began to squirm, not just the children.
"The reason my robe is so filthy this morning is I have been under the church in the crawl space. I reached up from my prone position and grabbed hold of one of the support beams. I nearly fainted when it fell on top of me. I thought my time had come. The lumber used for support is some of the heaviest used because of its strength. But I wasn't crushed. No. My hand dislodged this portion." He brought forth from his back a large holy piece of wood.
"No. I wasn't crushed because this particular piece of lumber was so full of termites you could hear them chewing. Their tunnels are so numerous that it almost fell into crumbs in my hand as you see here."
He tightened his fingers and the object crumbled to the floor. It became bits and pieces to be swept into a dust bin.
"If this doesn't frighten you into giving to your church I don't know what will. Perhaps it is only this one beam that is riddled so deeply with termite tunnels but it won't be the last if something isn't done. Our church will not be standing literally if something isn't done. We need to have major work done on the foundation. It has to be soon. Please honor your pledges. Please give your offerings. We must act soon. This is the Lord's House. We must be good stewards of His house. Thus endeth the sermon this week. Think on this," his hand destroyed the remainder of the beam, "and give."
The rustling began as everyone went into their pockets and purses. The collection plate circulated. When it passed me it was piled high with bills and envelopes. I added my quarter.
I mouthed the words as the Doxology was sung and wiggled to get through the crowd as worship came to and end. I had to see the crumbled wood. It was flaky bits and there were termites wriggling on the floor. As I walked to join my mother my foot touched a soft spot in the floor with a creak.