Today was her Mom’s day to clean the church she regularly attended and Lucy felt like she should be there to help. The church was a small mission without the extra money to hire a cleaning service so the members took turns doing the cleaning and yard work, usually signing up for days as a family. Lucy remembered helping with her brother when they were younger. She felt a slight pang of guilt, how long had it been since her mom had had any help cleaning the church? She had stopped attending church services for a while now. It hadn’t really been a conscientious decision, it had just happened.
She believed in God, and she believed in Jesus, she just didn’t quite do all of the things as a believer that she felt she should. It had been forever since she had last opened a Bible or even prayed. This seemed even worse to her because of what they had just been through,
Her grandma being sick, her mother grieving her loss, shouldn’t she have prayed for guidance or help? It saddened her that the thought hadn’t even come to her.
Lucy had just finished up mopping the long hallway at the entrance to the church. She was so deep in thought that she didn’t hear the footsteps behind her. All of a sudden a hand came to rest on her shoulder. She let out a gasp and jumped backwards.
“Sheesh, Lucy, I didn’t mean to scare you. What would you be scared of inside a church, anyway?”
“I’m sorry, it was nothing of course. You just startled me, I wasn’t thinking. Or maybe I was thinking too much. What’s up?”
“I was just seeing if you were finished. Your dad wants to lock up already.”
“He finished all of the yard work already? Yes, I’m almost finished here, Mom. I guess I wasn’t much help here after all, huh?”
“Don’t be silly, I’m really glad that you came today.”
“I’m going to make sure and come with you from now on. And wake me up in time for church service tomorrow?”
“Of course I can.” Janie felt guilty about the huge grin across her mother’s face. She didn’t know why she had stopped going to church in the first place and she didn’t know why she felt the need to go back now.
“Mom you used to be Catholic, right? How did you know that it was the right thing to become a Baptist? Or did you just do that for dad?”
“Lucy, you do not understand how strong my love was for the Catholic Church. My mother raised us all to be good Catholic girls, the priests used to drill into our heads what a big sin we would be guilty of if we ever left the church. I would have never have left my faith for a man. I didn’t leave the church for your father, when I got married I was still a Catholic. I converted years later after going to a few services at his church. And when I was called to that altar, I know that it was God calling me there.”
“What do you mean?”
“ I mean that I did not want to go up there. The whole time that the preacher was giving his invitation, I felt the need to go up there but I fought it. When I finally did walk up the aisle there were tears in my eyes, but not from guilt, from pure hardheadedness! But my going up there even though I didn’t want to go was enough, I was enveloped in this warmth, I felt God’s love for me for the first time and there was no going back after that. Back then we used to burn our trash and so when we got home I grabbed the trash that we had in the house and threw all of my saints and rosaries in the bag and just burned it all. I felt like that was what I should do, and I still don’t regret that. However, that decision had a lot of consequences.”
“Grandma was angry.”
“Oh, your grandma was furious, they all were. I was so naïve and just on fire for the Lord, I think that I thought that I would convert my whole family.’
Janie could still see the faces of those that she loved yelling at her and then asking her to leave.
“I’m sorry I brought it up mom, especially now.”
“No, it’s okay. I’m sad that your grandma has passed but I am happy because I feel like I made peace with her. This would be unbearable if not for that. I wish we had had more time, but we were blessed to have what we did have.”
Lucy didn’t know what to say so she just hugged her mama until her father came in to see what was taking them so long.