I mentioned before that I would often drift around Smithfield in my down time, but that’s virtually all I would really do: drift. Seldom could I have recognized any of the town’s landmarks other than the library, but this particular church would occasionally lurk around in the back of my mind. This completely brick, pristine, episcopal church had such a magnetic allure to it that I figured I’d sooner or later step foot inside it, but for what? Although my parents followed Buddhism, I had essentially created my own religion of sorts, an amalgam of the many world religions I had read about, so I wasn’t exactly faithful to one path of belief. To me, all pointers pointed in the same direction, so why bother just picking one hand?
When I stepped foot into that church, it was as if time had ceased to exist. My eyes and ears were treated to an elaborate gathering of people who had come together for a noble cause. The cause, as I quickly came to realize, was homelessness. The church foyer featured three rows of long, wooden tables and many of the church personnel scrambling to put out pots of food with some of the most sinfully blissful aromas I had ever whiffed in.
“Sweetie, would you like a plate? There’s plenty to eat.”
An incredibly sweet old lady, someone who clearly belonged to the church, basically invited me to throw down with everyone else. Who was I to turn her down?
“Oh. Uh…..yes, ma’am.”
I took the paper plate from her aged grasp and loaded a small amount of food upon it, mainly for the purpose of not looking too greedy to those who clearly needed it more than I. From the buffet, everyone who had food in their hands was directed into the main part of the church. Practically all of the pews were filled to the brim, my fluffy self being the very last person to be stuffed onto the end of the final row.
“Hi! I’m Koa! What’s your name?”
This tater tot-sized little gal who was seated beside me decided to spring up a conversation.
“Oh. Uh, my name is Izzy. Nice to meet you!”
My introduction to her seemed to be enough as she simply smiled and then resumed chomping to her heart’s content. I also couldn’t help but notice her accent. It was something that I had never heard before, so foreign and sweet. Just as I was about to take another bite into my corndog, I was, again, swiftly interrupted.
“Hi there! My name is Valerie! I see you just met my son, Koa. He’s a feisty little one, eh? Hey, did you come here for the concert? I am sure this is going to be the best one yet! I heard the musician is top-notch.”
I admit I was taken aback by this revelation. I suppose I just wasn’t used to seeing little boys parading around with hair down to their knees; I suppose I just suspected “her” to be a tomboy. Still, I had some small talk to keep up with, so my mind raced back. Not to mention, she, too, had this marvelous accent that I wanted to hear more of.
“Hi, Ms. Valerie. Oh, yeah, your son. He’s very sweet! Um, but the concert. I can’t say that I knew. What kind of concert is this?” I asked.
“The church website said that a world-renowned organist was going to perform! Oh, how I love the sound of organ music! Oooh, look! He’s setting up to perform!”
Just as I had turned my head away from her focus and directly to the performer, a loud crash of melody erupted throughout church, a deafening chord. The organ had suddenly become the main attraction, gratuitously featuring the talents of a mysterious young man. His back was facing the crowd, his frame enveloped in a grey, suave suit, his head adorned with a charming bowl cap, his entire being devoted to the beast of an instrument before him. Measure by measure, the melody appeared to pour out of him like a merciless rainstorm; this young man was the thief and we, the audience, were being held captive by his power. His performance was over just as fast as it had begun, and the entire church erupted into applause, myself included.
It’s very rare that I ever find myself overcome with emotion, especially to the point that I cry (even more especially to the point of showing it in public), but I just had to let my tears do their thing. One by one I could actually feel each tear slowly make their way down my face, over my puffy lips, and drop from my chin. It was a slow and deliberate cry, as if each teardrop was telling me, “It’s alright. You needed this,” over and over again. It wasn’t soon before I felt a comforting arm wrap around my shoulder.
“It was beautiful, wasn’t it? Just unbelievable. Even if I never see another concert again, at least I can die happy knowing that this one was my last.”
It was that good, folks. I’m really tellin’ ya. I shook my head in agreement, silently trying to tame my emotions. Before I knew it, one of my tears made a heavy splash down onto my watch, prompting me to check the time. Although it felt like an hour had passed between the time I first walked into the foyer and the end of the concert, only fifteen minutes had gone by! This was one of the most surreal sensations I had ever experienced up until that point. Although I still had enough time to make it to school without being late, I was going to have to haul it.
“Oh my! I’ve gotta get a move on and get to class! It was nice meeting you, Ms. Valerie. And you too, Mr. Koa.”
“Yes, indeed. Nice seeing you…uhhhh…”
“Izzy! Call me Izzy.”
“God bless, Izzy. Have a nice day! I hope that it’s already been made, I know mine has.”
As I waved buh-bye and made my way to Joenby, I couldn’t help but feel as though I had just experienced the encounter of a lifetime. Something about that church, the people, the performer. I immediately wanted to hold on tight and never let go.