1 March

I left work late & parked a block away from Picker’s, where I take my music lessons.  St. George’s is across the street & I decided to go in & have a moment to myself.  Sneaking into churches is something I do.

I went in & was immediately hit with a musty smell in the outer corridor.  An industrial-sized dehumidifier rumbled in a stairwell around the corner.  I peeked through the double doors into the chapel & saw no one.  Stepping through, I held my palm against the dark wood to ease the hinges as they closed.

I stood in the shadows there for a minute & let my eyes wander through the space.  This stained glass window was lit; that one was dark.  Most of them I already knew from coming years ago & taking pictures.  I had picked one to look at more closely & the minute I moved, music played.

I froze.  Someone was in the upper level, playing the organ.  Had they seen me?  Had they heard me?  The notes continued & I saw no one else.  I tried to figure out what was playing.  It didn’t sound like any hymn or sacred music I had heard in my limited experience.  Instead, it sounded like something more melancholy, almost like phrases from a Steven Reich work.

The song faltered, stopped, started again.  Someone’s practice, I think.  I looked at the scenes of the parables on the windows & thought about imperfect things, accidental gifts, flawed love.  I took the time to listen to someone’s music, which wasn’t offered to me, from someone who probably didn’t know I was there.  Was that selfish?  Would it have been better to call out & let them know how beautiful their efforts were?

After 10 minutes of music & thought, I stepped cautiously back into the threshold, trying not to betray a sound.  I opened the main door & blinked in the light of the setting sun.  My violin vibrated in its case & I was ready to learn a new song.