|Me and Susie|
So we showed up at 11:00am every Sunday, except for Easter, when we attended the Sunrise Service at 6am. Mom woke me up at five. It felt ghastly wretched to be hauled out of bed that early. If you had told me then that I'd spend 31 years of my life getting up even earlier than that to move the nation's mail, I would have fainted dead away. You sure wouldn't have been able to scare me with Hell.
Of course, before that, we had to have the Good Friday service. There was a retelling of the Passion, with sound effects. Probably it would have been more effective without the sound effects. Right at the point where Jesus says "it is finished," there was supposed to be a big clap of thunder, but this was in the fifties, before technology had advanced to the point of rattling sheet metal. Mrs. McKittrick, in the choir loft, was supposed to pick up the kneeling rail and drop it on the floor. Mrs. McKittrick was a very top-heavy woman, and there wasn't anything spindly about the rest of her, either. She had the massive bosom of a Wagnerian soprano, but not the voice. The choir was a volunteer organization and you had to take what you got. She would pitch and yaw all the way up the stairs to the choir loft and install herself with a whump and a rumble, her bosom heaving like Hell's bellows until well past the Introit. We kids could hardly take our eyes off her.
|Thirty years before ADA|
But one year, there was actual thunder. The sky darkened impressively, and then there was a big boom at four o'clock. Susie and I whispered about it later. It seemed pretty clear that God was getting His word in, especially after my neighbor provided some other details about four o'clock being the exact time Jesus died. We were filled with wonder. Not enough to wonder about what time it was in the greater Golgotha area, or wonder if it was thundering all over the world and not just at us, or whether we'd missed any messages in all the other thunder that occurred around four o'clock almost every day in northern Virginia. When God has something to say, you just say Yes Sir. We spent some time trying to think about eternity, and not getting a purchase on it. But the effort felt exciting, like being spun around until you're dizzy.