I sat down in the hard cold pew this morning. My skin sizzled and popped but I bore it without expression. PJ smiles a sly smile and holds up a loaf of bread so I can see it. God, what a mess. We're going to put slices in the collection plates today. Sam will try and figure out how to sweep or mop afterwards and give up quickly, asking me to call whichever cleaning service I call, because he won't look in the very comprehensive contact list I keep on the church computer for him. He hardly knows how to turn it on, preferring to bring his own laptop with him every day. He doesn't even have a receptionist currently. Says the church is hardly big enough for the four full-time people it employs now. He does most of it himself. I help him a lot. We get it done.
But on a day like this I feel like an outsider, a heathen. An anomaly. Maybe I am every day. Lochlan slides in beside me, tsks at PJ and grabs my hand, squeezing it warmly. He leans in and whispers against my ear, asking me if I'm warm enough. I shake my head. Churches are like movie theatres. I'm always cold in them. He puts his arm around me and pulls me close to him. He is warm all over. He kisses the side of my mouth and sits back comfortably to listen. Ben is in a few minutes later and squeezes my whole head with his hand as he edges past Lochlan and sits on my other side. PJ and John move down a bit for him. Ben takes my other hand and kisses the back of it before smiling at me. He keeps my hand in his, his leg pressed against mine. Hip to hip, hand to hand we all sit and listen as Sam spins an old yarn into a comforting wrap. A story with subtle but glaring metaphors, reminders, tips for life and instructions on how to be redeemed. It's back to standard issue sermons and the church is noticeably less-full than it was in the days leading up to Easter.
After church we all pile into a diner, taking up three tables and two booths. We order fried food and milkshakes, coffee and juice and we eat and laugh and plan the week (which won't be as busy as the last few) and the day too (which won't be busy at all) and then we scatter back to the trucks and form a line up the highway to home. Everyone disappears and Lochlan looks at me.
Say yes before I change my mind. (Lochlan hates horror movies. Hates 'em. I keep telling him watching the Canucks earn their draft picks every year is more horror than a silly movie and he laughs and tells me I'm probably right.)
I made a quick call to the cleaning company we use for the church sometimes to come and sweep up all the bread crumbs and mop the sanctuary proper and then I head downstairs to join him.