This Is the Day
“This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” It’s Sunday morning in Paradise, and even the church floor is vibrating with music. From my under-the-chair cave I peek through the gaps my mom and dad make when their hips sway apart to the rhythm of the worship band. I pull scraps of paper out of my mom’s purse and draw people rejoicing in the Lord. I draw the backs of my mom’s high heels. You can tell she’s rejoicing, just by the way she rocks back and forth on those purple heels. Some people rejoice so much that they fall over. Dad says they’re slain in the Spirit.
I watch in awe every Sunday as they fall down like trees at the altar. Slain trees. They’re all on my level then — the soles of their shoes so close to my face I can smell their feet. Ushers step carefully through the fallen bodies and lay bright blue blankets over the ladies’ legs. I always thought it was because they were cold, but mom says it’s so no one can see their underwear when they’re lying there. I don’t know who else would see their underwear but me, but I guess I count.
After everyone’s underwear is covered up, Mom and Dad go up to the slain and whisper magic prayers that wake them up. I try to listen, but all the words sound funny, like an African language. Maybe when I’m closer to God I’ll learn that language too. Mom and Dad are really close to God. They are pastors at church. Or at least Dad is. Mom does a lot of the things he does, but I guess she’s not allowed to preach. She sings soprano on stage sometimes, and she talks to everyone in soprano. She’s always rejoicing, but she never falls over. She has to stay standing so she can help the slain.
Sometimes Dad preaches about the End Times, and that’s when I close my eyes and pray the salvation prayer again, just in case. When he talks about heaven, I pay attention. It sounds great, so I hope I get in! There are huge houses, and angels, and we’ll all be able to fly. There are pearls and clouds, and you never get hungry or tired! Mom and Dad say my brother Dustin is in heaven too. He died in a car accident on the way to church — imagine that! (So I always lay down low on the floor of the minivan and pray hard on the way to church.) I was the replacement baby, except I’m a girl. Mom calls me a miracle baby. I wonder if that means I can perform miracles — turning water into wine, like Jesus. But wine is bad because it makes you drunk, and you should only be drunk in the Spirit, which is like being slain. Cut down like an old, dead tree. It doesn’t sound like fun, but it looks like falling asleep, which is what I end up doing by the end of the service, curled up safe in my cave.
I love Sunday afternoons the best. I mostly spend them adventuring in the woods with my best friend, Margaret. We both have glasses and cats and bangs. We have a lot in common, except she doesn’t go to my church, so I don’t know what category to put her in. Is she going to heaven or hell? I finally got up the nerve to ask her about it once, but she didn’t seem interested. She just wants to play. And so do I. Witnessing is very serious work, and I forget to play. I’m sure Jesus would want me to take a break, as long as I don’t backslide. (We sneak into her parents’ garage once, which is off limits. It smelled smoky in there, and a little bit like skunks. I bet a skunk lives underneath the garage and is just waiting to come out and spray us for trespassing.) Is trespassing a sin? It in the Lord’s Prayer … “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I’ll have to ask Dad about that. He always has the right answer.
Like tonight, when I asked dad why George Bush couldn’t keep being our president, he said that maybe Clinton’s election was a sign of the End Times. I know it’s the right answer, but the End Times sure freak me out, especially at night. That’s when all the demons growl at my door, and I can’t find Jesus anywhere, no matter how hard I pray. I’ll ask Mom to scratch my back a little longer tonight. If it’s the end of the world, I want to be asleep.