All those Sunday mornings squirming in hard wooden pews,
fidgeting and shuffling, trying to bring Dead Time back to life by looking for smooth
faces or escaping through the magnificent anterior stained glass window.
And then there were the mandatory readings sandwiched among
the droning Northern hymns that had all the
vivaciousness and vigor of soggy English food.
And then there was the sermon.
And now a man dressed in obligatory black appeared from a side door and walked toward
the spring pulpit, and as he bowed his head and closed his eyes people every where
braced for the worst. The minister, a man not known for his brevity,
paused and cleared his throat, and after a while he finally said,
"Breathe. The true test of a man, my friends, is a bunt." Yes, one young man said to
himself, and "Amen to that!" "The true test of a man is a definitely bunt." And then
the youth waited, and everybody else who was sitting in the congregational pews waited.
Everybody waited for the preacher's sermon.
And they waited, and waited, and waited in a silence broken only
by huff-huffing and squirming and coughing, and occasional squeals from
colicky infants. But the man standing at the pulpit remained steadfast,
and silent - he looked up and not down, but he didn't say a word.
Just silence, and more silence. A broad silence broken only by occasional huff-huffing and hacking, coughing and squealing.
And after a while the young man opened his eyes and watched incredulously
as the preacher closed his book and stepped down from the pulpit and walked briskly down the aisle at the end of which he disappeared through an open door that led into the sun light. And after a time the youth and the rest of the startled congregation stood up, and the young man loosened his tie as he joined everybody else in walking down the aisle and out the front door, where all parties converged and melted into the splendid morning sun light.