The room was hushed, save for the mournful keening of notes emanating from the old electric organ in the corner. The wild-haired woman at the keyboard looked depressed as if she had gone through a hard life of misery; her magnified eyes blinking furiously behind large spectacles, her hands moving as if of their own accord over the notes and chords; sharps and flats, majors and minors.
People quietly nodded a solemn greeting to their neighbour as they took a seat amongst the rows of chairs laid out. All eyes were turned to the front. Two young women entered the room, catching up on news and each other’s lives with whispers and giggles. A short burst of laughter from one of them drew a couple of stares and frowns, quenching their good humour as they quickly found their places.
Outside, the sky burst with brilliant blue. Clouds scudded across the azure canvas like puffs of white cotton wool, rejoicing in freedom. Trees danced and shouted a welcome to the breeze, echoed by the flowers bobbing in the hedgerows. Nature was alive; bright, glorious and exultant.
As the final funereal note from the organ died, the elderly man seated at the front of the room stood wearily. His face was grey and lined with years of disappointment. He gazed out at those seated before him, and sighed heavily. How could he fill their hearts with hope today when his was so bereft of it? He was about to utter the same words he had uttered so many times before; words that did not seem to make a difference to those who came, to those who heard.
“Good morning, and welcome to our Sunday Praise and Worship Service.”
© 2008 Jeannette Sheehy