As a small child, I always found the chore of sitting quietly for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon, listening to the Sunday sermon, to be the most torturous chore! Something about sitting on the hard church furniture, squeezed between my father and my older brother George, to make room for dear Sister Margaret to sit on the end of the bench with our family, made the whole experience unbearable.
Mother would sit there, quietly fanning herself, desperate for some relief from the heat. Father sat up straight with his hands folded in his lap, in deep contemplation about the topic that that particular Sunday’s sermon was covering. Lucy, the baby of the family, would always sit snuggled up to Mother’s side, quietly flipping through the pages of an anthology of children’s bible stories, and absentmindedly snacking on the prepared treat Mother had brought specifically for her. George, who always thought that he was superior, as he was four years older than myself, would sit with his back ramrod straight, eyes forward, giving off the appearance that he was soaking up every word that was said from the pulpit, even though I knew differently. Then there was me, confined to my small space on the bench, forced to contain all of my anxious energy and wiggles, unable to move from my seat on the pew. At times, my tie would feel too tight, as I couldn’t breathe because of how hot it was inside our small church.
Nevertheless, my mother and father insisted that we went to church together as a family every Sunday. So, I went to church and suffered through the hours that seemed to drag on forever, sitting on the cramped church furniture with my family. It wasn’t until I grew older, and listened to the earnest words of the preacher, that I realized what church meant to me. Then, it stopped being a chore. I began to enjoy Sunday sermons, and when George went off to college, I even missed the way he would snore quietly next to me. Church became a tradition, one that continues today, with my own family. When my daughter complains about having to go to our chapel, and sit on our usual pew, I smile and tell her that someday, she will love it. She doesn’t seem so sure, but I know better.