brown wooden church bench near white painted wall

“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.