Hejira

church light

february 3. 2000

is me.I was trying to go to sleep last night, a task that gets considerably harder whenever I am at school. The mattress on my bed sucks, and there's a slight slope to it, so if I don't sleep in exactly the same position, in the same place, I feel like I'm going to fall off the bed. So always end up on my right side, facing the window, and wake up with my spine aligned all wrong and a crick in my neck.

There's this light right out our window, a security light of some kind that's on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it shines directly into the window whenever I'm trying to get to sleep. It even penetrates the ugly curtains, and I was watching this little block of light shining on the Celtic tapestry hung on the opposite wall of the room. It wasn't a bright light, a kind of sallow, dark yellow, almost like right before a light bulb burns out.

I remember getting to church early for choir practice, there being no one else in the sanctuary, so I sat down in one of the back pews and waited for Sister Margaret to show up. The room was dim, the only definitive light on the crucifix on the far wall, illuminated by a sallow, yellow light coming from some unknown source. I remember looking at that crucifix so many times from afar, and wishing I could get a closer look at it.

I sat in that back pew, 10 or 11 years old, trying to feel what everyone told me I should feel about God, about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But whenever I was there alone, before choir practice, I was always so afraid. Like something was lurking in that sanctuary, something unknown and unseen, waiting to get me. There were so many dark corners, so many secrets, that I didn't know. I always sat in the back pew, because if anything should happen I was close to the door and could run.

So I sat there, knees up to chin, until I heard and saw a dark figure emerge in one of the side aisles. I knew it was Sister Margaret's stout form, but sometimes my overactive imagination imagined it to be something else, and I would let out a nervous yelp of some sort. She would yell at me, of course, and then open the door to the choir loft, and we'd go upstairs, and wait for the rest of the kids and Paula Jean, the organist, to show up.