Our Rampart in the Night

Close to midnight Sam and Annaka joined us for a belated dinner. During the meal I kept trying to form an interesting question for Sam but nothing clever came to my mind, and I didn’t want to appear foolish. Having felt the pangs of silence, and not wanting him to leave without hearing me say something, I gave him my honest gratitude. He had gifted me the ability to reason well, and like General Shang from Arrival my words to him were: “You changed my mind.”

The Nativity scene was still softly glowing from outside on our lawn and the light made its way indoors. Because of this he couldn’t stay long. As he was preparing to leave I wondered if I had missed an opportunity to debate the existence of God. No, I still didn’t want to appear foolish. And what could I say to him which he hasn’t heard already? At times, especially after a heated discussion, I would wish there were more atheists in the world like him. This way we’d have more reason and critical thinking shaping our thoughts, and the love of truth, in its own way, is the love of God. But then I remember that terrible bargain with Faust’s demon, and the temptation of that fruit, and I remain satisfied with the ignorance of the world, for now, as we wait for God’s brilliant shine.

Afterwards I left with the fraternity brothers for the church. It was our duty to do the midnight chores. On our way the streets were dark and damp from a recent rain. As they led me they told ghost stories of the things that haunt the chapel late at night attempting to scare me. This was also part of their tradition. It was usually small children who had the midnight chores and I had to explain to them I was a grown man.

The hall was immense when fully lit and vacant of people. It stretched back as far as the eye could see with the pews to scale for distance. There were also seats with blue and gold cushions lifted up over the pews for the people bold enough to sit in them for a better view, but would in turn be viewed by everyone else. It was not a seat for me. The very front of the hall had something much like an orchestra pit, and over it were the choir benches and the great organ with its pipes towering like redwood trees made of brass.

We carried the large stacks of bulletins to be placed at each of the entrance tables, and the hymnal pages upon each pew. The other children were being led by their choir master and they had the job of placing the music sheets on their stands. Some of them started singing and I noticed that many of them were from the refugee camps. Their faces had been washed and their shabby clothes had been replaced with brilliant suits. I was amazed to see joy in their faces. The choir master used the occasion to lift his arms up then gently moved them in tune to help them carry the song forward. I joined their circle and picked up a music sheet to follow along. Japheth, the small boy from Nigeria, was beside me and he pointed out where we were on the paper for me.  We sang all that morning and waited for the congregation to join us as the sun rose.

Copyright 2017 Jason S Cooper
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