It is not sadness. It is not fear. It is not dread. It is not reluctance. It is not refusal. It is nothing.
The eyes are open now, but nothing is there. The body will move, but out of habit, and the habit is not so strong. If there is any motivation at all, it is to be not found out. Make no ripples. Make no waves. Clothes must go on; absence today would be noted. Breakfast? No one will know. What to do instead?
No movement, except to glance at the watch. How long can nothing happen before it is found out?
Odd how the mechanical motions seem to be almost observed instead of directed.
There are problems with the car. This is bad. This should mean emotions. No, this is good. No one will ask now what is wrong. The car is wrong, of course. Just the car.
The nothingness is wrong. Very wrong. This place has been visited before. It is not okay. It was not like this last night. It was like this in the morning. Try being in the bed again; maybe, with sleep, the nothingness will go away.
Now there are tears. No words behind the tears. No problem to be fixed. Just tears. The numbness was preferable.
But pretending is always an option. Shelve it. No one needs to see that. Smile. Nod. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. There is something about young children who want attention. They want attention, so they don’t give it. They want attention, and they distract. Count change – pennies and nickles and quarters. Children are distracted by pennies; when does that lose its hold? The void is there. Sitting and staring, though the person to the side tries to make conversation. But talking is hard, in the void. There is nothing to say.
It is time to go again, so go. Laying in the pew, listening to the people making music. There is no point to being here. The people making music laugh. That is good for the people who still can laugh. But there is no point to being here.
More people come. They try to ask questions. They try to be nice. The tears come back, and this time the will not be quelled. They keep leaking out. The people are singing, getting ready for Sunday. There is no point to being here. Lying in the pew, tears coming onto the face. Not all children want attention. Some understand there are things that are beyond words. A little hand awkwardly pats, strokes. Everyone knows. There is shame in public humiliation. Why be here? A way should have been found to not be here. The people sing. The evening will never end.
The singing is stopping.
The people are coming down, coming close. Hunching over the pew. Hands. Hands on the shoulder, hands on the elbow, hands on the back. Large hands and smaller hands, warm hands, still hands, comforting hands. Voices rising to heaven, carrying petitions for the suffering. The angels are watching this holy convocation, to learn the work of their Lord. Another petition. Then, poignant, slow, almost a lullaby–a soprano leads, but others join the music:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you
To shine upon you and be gracious
And be gracious unto you
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you,
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you
And give you peace, and give you peace;
And give you peace, and give you peace. . .”
Amen and amen.
All of the people–all of the people–go up to sing. Good Friday is coming.
“Where you there. . .when they crucified my Lord?
Where you there. . .when they laid Him in the tomb?
“. . .they laughed and scorned Him as He died.
The humble king, they named a fraud. . .”
Easter is coming. Sing:
“. . .Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?. . .”
“. . .for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdom of this world
is become the kingdom of our Lord
and of His Christ, and of His Christ!
And He shall reign for ever and ever. . .”
There are many days left to prepare for. Sing:
“. . .What is man, that you are mindful of him?
You have given man a crown of glory and honor
and have made him a little lower than the angels. . .”
The darkness has receded. There will be sleep tonight. There will be inexplicable new mercies tomorrow morning.
The prayers of the saints are a pleasing aroma to the Lord.