Eddie is a Christian writer and has been a mentor to countless young people through God's ministry over the past 20 years.
Kevin hesitated just outside of the front doors as he studied the wood frame in detail. A decade had passed since he had last walked through them. He still could not fathom the amount of decay he observed in the flaking paint and graying exposed wood. The state of the trim of the doors was not the real reason he hesitated. Apprehension from a repressed, painful memory kept him motionless. He reached for the handle, expecting the doors to be locked.
It was Tuesday morning, and Kevin presumed no one would be inside the church. He was surprised to find the door unlocked. He stepped with caution through the doorway into the foyer. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darker interior. He searched for something familiar that he knew should be there. The sunlight followed him in, enlightening the familiar table presenting the same open bible for visitors to read. He walked up to it and quietly read the 23 Psalm.
After he read the passage, Kevin proceeded into the sanctuary. He kept to the shadows to avoid discovery by anyone working inside. He wanted to spend a few moments alone to reminisce about the years he had spent within the church. The movement on the floor caught his eye as a mouse crawled along the back wall and disappeared into a small hole in the baseboard. Dust mites floated in colored sunbeams that drifted through stained-glass windows.
Kevin touched the empty wooden pews as he moved up the center aisle. Pleasant memories filled his mind, and he began to hear a congregation singing Amazing Grace. He hummed the tune softly to himself. When he reached the altar, he stopped and knelt to pray in silence.
Brother Wayne entered the sanctuary and observed Kevin kneeling in prayer. He waited patiently in respectful silence while the young man finished his conversation with God. When Kevin completed his silent prayer, he glanced up at the wooden cross over the pulpit.
He interrupted the silence with his voice directed toward Brother Wayne. “It has been a long time since I have been in here.”
Brother Wayne was amazed. “How did you know I was here?” He had tried his best to be as quiet as a mouse.
“Prison hones your senses,” Kevin replied in a detached manner. “You have to know when someone is sneaking up on you. Your life often depends on it… There is a creak in the wood flooring in front of your office, and one of your knees pops when you shift your weight to the other foot.”
Brother Wayne smiled as he approached Kevin, absently favoring his right leg. “It is an enduring injury from the Vietnam War. The patella catches from time to time.”
Kevin stood up and turned to look at everything in the church. “It hasn’t changed much, although it appears smaller now.”
Brother Wayne proudly lifted his hands toward a broad opening behind the pulpit as if showing off a new baby. “Have you come to look at the baptistery?”
“I guess.” Kevin tried but failed in hiding his interest.
“Right this way.” Brother Wayne said with pride.
The way into the back hallway that led to the baptistery seemed vaguely familiar and yet distant in memory. Kevin had made the trip into the darkened rooms behind the choir loft and pulpit only twice in his life and both times on the same day. He had only been eight years old. As a child, he had seen those rooms with their even darker corners as ominously enormous and dangerous for a child to wander into alone. Now they were narrow and confined, filled with the odor of stale dust and dried wood.
When the two of them were at the stairs of the baptistery, Kevin could not suppress the fond memories welling up within him. He permitted a smile to escape him as he walked down the steps toward the basin. Brother Wayne stood on the steps observing the repressed joy the young man exhibited. He sensed that he reached through the wall of stone just enough to touch the young man’s heart.
Kevin gazed at Brother Wayne with curiosity and apprehension. “Just how much did Brother Jamie tell you about me?”
Brother Wayne shrugged as if it did not bother him. “He told me quite a few things...including the visits he made to you in prison.”
Kevin felt unsure of the preacher’s take on him. “He did, did he? I wonder who else he talked to.”
“He has only spoken with me about you.” Brother Wayne tried to be encouraging. “He had hoped you would return to Pine Springs after you had been released.”
A spark of interest emerged as Kevin found something to be hopeful about. “Do you still talk to him?”
Brother Wayne replied with a casual smile. “We speak maybe once a month now.”
Kevin allowed himself to open a little more. “Could you let him know that I would like to meet him?”
“You can tell him yourself.” Brother Wayne felt proud of himself for holding the surprise so long. He had been itching to find Kevin all that day and tell him the good news. “He will be arriving later this afternoon to bring a donation for the restoration fund. It is coming from his church to ours.”
Kevin could hardly contain the excitement in his voice or the joyful emotion sweeping through him. James Canton, otherwise known by the young man as Brother Jamie, was the one man he knew he could depend on. No one, perhaps even Brother Jamie himself, could ever know the depth of his importance.
Brother Wayne nodded as he stepped back out of the baptistery. Kevin stopped and looked back over it at the top of the stairs once more with growing admiration, then followed the pastor out.
Continue reading Kevin's Homecoming - Chapter 8
- Kevin's Homecoming - Chapter 8
Kevin and Brother Wayne travel to Houston to meet with Brother Jamie and Senator Bill Harrison, who has a surprise for them when they arrive.