I'd like to ask if you ever really look at those worshipping around you on Sunday morning.
Do you wonder what their lives are really like?
What are their concerns or cares?
What are their joys and triumphs?
Who's in the pew next to you?
When his Marnie had been by his side, the Sunday morning experience had been completely different. It had been a joy to arrive at church early. Every encounter with friends had been an opportunity for laughter and shared confidences, hardy handshakes and stiff slaps on the back. In those days, it had been his barely secret delight to study Marnie over the shoulders of others. How he had cherished the curve of her cheek, and the shape of her neck as it held up the head he loved to cradle in their bed at night. Her form in its loudly patterned Sabbath dresses had been his touchstone; her smile, his homing beacon. As she moved among their friends and reached to greet strangers, he had been her faithful Always Admirer, gratefully savoring the wife of his youth.
Now alone and moving stiffly, he seemed to have aged many years in the few weeks since she had gone on, losing whatever youth he had left to the continually fierce pain which loss had brought along as its partner. There was a hole in his side, a gaping rip like the war wound of his past. His breath was perpetually shallow and sour-tasting with grief, and the trembling hands at the ends of his arms did not seem to be his own as he placed his Bible in the empty space next to him.
He was unaware of the morning light as it poured through the stained glass, bathing his solitude with shafts of green, pink and blue. The piano pounded to life and obediently he stood to sing, helplessly shouldering the weight of his bereavement.