At the head of the cruciate sanctuary, Andrew kneels to pray. This is his private habit en route to the church office. Open and honest communication is much easier in an empty building. Never perfunctory or prolonged, his personal prayers are unrehearsed, uninhibited, and passionate; but, lately, they’ve also been incomplete, failing to reach an amen.
“Almighty God and Everlasting Father…”
Andrew’s voice echoes to a stop. He pauses for a long, thoughtful moment with the dawning awareness of more and more to confess each week. The list is getting longer.
Sex offenders are placed on a list. The most dangerous and perverted among them–their registration and photograph must be updated every 90 days.
The stiff joints and fallen arches of the aging church crack and pop in the telling silence. A minute or two later, the Anglican minister continues to pray aloud, cautiously, not asking for God’s blessing but at least, perchance, His forgiveness.
“Omniscient Christ, you know the secrets of men…”
Knees down, eyes up, palms together, fingers interlaced.
A violent sexual predator assumed this very position last week at some ungodly hour of the night–except he wasn’t praying–he was begging for his life. Tier III offenders repeat: so does a revolver.
Unsure how to proceed, Andrew stops midsentence, doesn’t finish his prayer. Already on his knees, he drops into pushup position and completes an easy set of fifty reps, followed by an upward and downward dog stretch. Deep cleansing breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth, he takes in all the comforting smells of the church lingering in the nave after yesterday’s service–a unique mixture of must, mints, cough drops, hymnals, pew bibles, polished wood, red carpet, and traces of sacramental bread and wine. Next week, flowers for Mrs. Thompson’s funeral will likely add their bittersweet scent to the mix.
Andrew stands to his feet and brushes a trace of dust and lint from his knees. His clerical collar is resurrection white and bright as a miner’s light as he enters the shadowy north transept.