The oak pew pressed against my back as I sat surrounded by clinging silence. Stained glass windows grew luminous behind the pulpit; the sun was rising. I clutched an open hymnbook in my hands while the preacher introduced the choir. His voice reverberated, piercing.
It was the Christmas service, and my gift for my extended family was my performance of religion. They unknowingly received it, accepting my participation as a normality.
The choir emerged from the preparatory room, my grandmother with them. The swish of their long robes punctuated the silence. After the singers lined up along the risers, the church’s pianist poised her fingers over the keys. My grandmother caught my eye and winked. I smiled and pushed my hair behind my ears— a small confession of my discomfort. As the first notes hit the air, everyone around me stood. I missed a cue in the play. I quickly stood to join them, and Sunday service memories of quaint dresses and peering over pews on my tip toes arose.
My grandmother, seventy-seven at this time, born during World War II, is a combination of the click of knitting needles, a pianist’s fingers, endless cookies, and the sound of prayers. She has sung in the choir ever since I can remember. She plans the church rummage sale every year, never misses a bell rehearsal, and unquestioningly believes. Continue reading “Stained Glass Performance by Madison Glennie”