“a caretaker of a building”
I never cleaned a church. There was
always a janitor, some parishioner
who took care of that, cut the grass,
shoveled snow. They seemed to work
as a team, my father and the janitor.
Dad would spend his time searching
scripture for the next sermon, counselling
broken hearts, visiting the sick, praying.
Weddings, funerals. And the janitor
would come in midweek. Begin in the Sunday
school rooms dusting, sweeping, wiping
down, picking up. Notes written hastily.
A quarter, a dollar discarded he’d put in his
pocket to put in an envelope then put the money
in the offering. “The forgotten offering,” he’d
say, laugh. Then move into the sanctuary where
discarded dreams sat in pews, distracted thoughts
lingered, prayers said never intended to go higher
than the ceiling. Week after week he’d clean.
And on Sunday morning, third pew back on the left
hand side from the pulpit, he and his family would sit.
Dad would enter the platform from a side door, glance
first to Randolph and nod,smile slightly as if saying, “Good job.”
The congregation left behind what they wanted to and what
they didn’t know they left Dad and Randolph picked up.