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.