O Magnum Mysterium

Last October a thin majority of my American Baptist congregation voted to close the church. My mother, as she couldn't but do, suddenly turned and encouraged those seated and awaiting the counting of ballots to sing "Amazing Grace." When the vote was cast, a feckless and callow man of gentle deportment stood up. He confessed that, though he was no longer a member, he needed to say something. When he tried to speak his sentiments were lost in tears. I, through all this, was myself; and from the rear of the sanctuary made a crisp call to order.

Less than a month later a departure led to my elevation to chairman of the church's stewardship commission. With priceless assistance and guidance, I have overseen preparations for what must be our final year. Singularly important have been my thoughts on the closure of the church, dissolution of the congregation and end to an establishment of 84 years. I can't answer the question of how I feel about all of this. Emotion has supported reason and obligation: exhortation to colleagues and indignation to impel the carriage of duty. And impressions hint that even if probed, feelings would not be easily transliterated.

Still — noontime yesterday, I said to myself that I would miss the weekly rounds made, never doubling back, following the path I refined a few years ago, to lock up the convoluted building. This evening's stewardship meeting included a tour of minor repairs effected for the sake of our realtor's tours. When the building was quiet again, I leaned into a few rooms and salvaged what memories I could.

Yet we know rain will pass, forbearance an investment bringing returns upon the storm's recession.

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