I was so sure I wasn’t going to church today but by 9:20 I was quickly dressing to go to my 9:30 class. I’m not sure why I couldn’t stay home. My body just wouldn’t let me.
For the past four weeks, there were three female names in the bulletin all with the same last name. The names were vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place them. They were listed under the “In transition” column. That is our church’s way of viewing what happens to us spiritually when we die. We are “in transition” to wherever we are going next. The names were missing this week.
I had gotten home from Japan November 29 so it was December 6 before I attended church again. I noticed the names the first week but I didn’t recognize them. They were listed the entire month of December and the first week of January. As I was greeting our minister last week I asked who they might be. I thought perhaps there had been an automobile accident or fire or something during the time I was out of town. Our minister asked if I were going to be in the fellowship hall. When I said I would be, he said he would tell me about it when he came back there. I got diverted and so did he so I didn’t see him again.
This week I asked one of my friends who works in the church office. She usually knows everything that is happening in the church whether she can tell me or not. She told me that they were members of the church until the husband got transferred to Kansas in 2008. There had been some problems with the marriage, but she moved with her two daughters and son up there to keep the family together. When it was obvious the marriage was over, she and the children moved out.
She told me that the two girls had been in the girl band who had performed at “Papa Charlie’s” about two years ago. I remembered them immediately. Papa Charlie’s is a coffee-house that is held in our church fellowship hall about four times a year. It’s a place where various local entertainers can perform music or read their poetry. I’ve done that four or five times myself. I was a reader the night they performed. All the girls in the band were in school and were really good. They had their audience fully involved. I especially noticed the youngest one. She seemed so happy and full of life. Her sister also seemed quite lively and happy. She was full of life and joy. They had the audience in their hands. Their mother sat in the back of the room selling their first CD. She was so proud of their accomplishments. She was really showing her support.
By last Thanksgiving they were dead. The mother could see no way out of her marriage problems so she filed for divorce. In retaliation, the husband, who is suspected of being a misogynist, brought a gun to the home of her grandmother where the wife and her children were visiting, and shot his wife, two daughters, and the grandmother, who did not die immediately but did later. He didn’t have too much to do with his daughters but he was upset at losing his son. He did not harm his ten year old son. He was a very controlling man and could not handle the fact that his wife left him.
I was really sad over hearing this news. The band members seemed so full of promise. I wondered if they had tried to form new band in Kansas when they left our congregation. It made me think about all the people I have come to know during the almost five years that I have attended this church. How many people in a congregation does anyone really become close to? I have some very good friends now because I joined a book discussion group and I attend a couple of other women’s groups sporadically. But they don’t know anything about my life and I know nothing of their lives other than what we wish to share with each other at any given time. We put on our public personna and perform in a way in which we feel most comfortable.
One of my resolutions regarding the people in our congregation this year is to greet and speak to as many as I can. You seldom are privy to information about marriages and family relationships but a smile and a kind remark can go a long way to someone who might be hurting. Maybe you can resolve to become more familiar with the people with whom you associate in your daily lives as well. You never know whose names may some day show up “In Transition”. It could be someone you could have gotten to know just a little better. Namaste. Attic Annie