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Honorable Mention - "The Peaceful Church"

1998 Anne Horton Writing Award
Honorable Mention
"The Peaceful Church"
Catherine Weier

A reverent hush filled the vast church occupied by only a handful of worshipers. I crept quietly into the room trying to make myself unnoticable, but the loose boards of the floor squeeked like a rickety old door. No one noticed. Their eyes were closed and their most inner thoughts focused on the Creator of both heaven and earth. A dim shadow of painted light illuminated their faces as it reflected off the spectacular stained-glass windows. These formations of tinted glass lined the towering walls of the building, creating dazzling icons of the Blessed Virgin and Jesus Christ. I could feel the warm sunlight on my bare arms. It penetrated the glass surface and sent streams of color across the continuous series of wooden pews.

Every bench was fashioned from the same carpenter, but each one possessed its own distinctive identity. Like a pair of hands, no two were exactly alike. The markings of young children were etched into the golden brown surface of the wood, leaving the pew feeling coarse to my touch. Bright yellow gum peeked out at me from its hiding place beneath a lopsided kneeler that clutched to three small screws. Although there were no children present in the room, evidence of them could be seen in the carvings scratched into the pew and the gum stuck under the kneeler. I could almost hear the echo of a child's laughter. It filled the room with a sense of warmth and security. Their spirit brought the church to life even when it was nearly empty.

I silently watched as two young boys, dressed in their traditional white robes, set the altar. A bright red Bible was the only object lying upon the grand marble table. A gentle breeze seeped through a small crack in the window, ran across the back of my neck, and sent chills down my spine. Outside I could hear the faint roar of a lawn mower. The scent of freshly cut grass, combined with the aroma of the rose flower arrangements, tickled my nose and brought my senses alive.

I looked above me. The vaulted ceilings and complicated design of criss-crossed beams revealed the strenuous hours of creating such a beautiful structure. It was as if God Himself had taken great care in designing the framework that would support His home. The beauty of this place overwhelmed me, and as I looked around the room I was filled with a sense of security. Upon every wall the stations of the cross were displayed by large paintings that exhibited each of the fourteen trials that Jesus suffered through. Beside every station a small white candle, contained in a gold scone, burned brightly. From these molds of wax, the scent of vanilla filled the church.

It was peaceful here. The only sound was the echo of an organ rehearsing for Sunday mass, but the tune was unfamiliar to me. All of the confused thoughts and feelings that I had faded away with the musical voice of the organ. It was here that I found reassurment in the tranquillity of the Lord's holy house.