The clock on the tower of the town hall building chimed midnight. Across the town square, three youth, snuck through the backdoor of Shepherd’s Church.
“You sure God’s gonna be here?” Six year-old Amy asked her nine year-old brother, Tom. She was holding a greeting card in her hand. She clutched it tight to her side as they moved down the darkened hallway toward the sanctuary.
Tom held a flashlight, its beam spearing the darkness. “That’s what the lady said that came visitin’ with Grandma being ill and I’m leanin’ to believe it.”
“Nobody’s seen God and I bet He ain’t here,” Allen, Tom’s classmate and best friend whispered. “This ain’t nothin’ but a holler buildin’.”
“Hollow, Amy corrected. “Holler is something you do when you want someone to listen.”
“Don’t be correctin’ Allen like that, Amy. It’s disrespectful and you sound like Miss Chase in my readin’ class.”
She turned to look at him. “I wasn’t bein’ mean. Just helpful. Like Grandma did when she took a switch to us and sayin’ it’s for our own good.”
“How do you figure that?” Allen asked.
Amy and Tom shrugged and Allen continued. “I did respect your grandma, but I don’t much cotton to bein’ corrected by no five year-old.”
“Well she sounds like she’s ninety.”
“Anyway,” Tom interrupted, “Grandma said it’s because she loved us.”
“I don’t love Allen,” Amy exclaimed. “I don’t even like him.”
Tom sighed. “Just come on, we gotta find God, give Him that card and get outta here before Papa finds were gone.”
Clutching the card closer to her heart, Amy’s eyes misted. “What if God’s not here, maybe He’s off visitin’ some other place.
“Never know tell we go lookin’, now will we. Come on.” Tom answered.
In the sanctuary the light of the moon fell through a rosette window above the altar. Muted white floral sprays stood on either side, waiting a funeral that afternoon.
They walked into the pool of light cast by the stained window and looked up to an empty cross suspended from the ceiling.
“”Told you He ain’t here,” Allen whispered.
Amy bunched her lips and handed the card to her brother.
Taking it, he cocked his head. “It smells like Grandma.”
She nodded. “I sprinkled some of her perfume on it.”
“You think God has a nose?” Allen said.
She shrugged. “Grandma wore it to church; maybe God will remember her by it.”
They stood silently. “Maybe we should pray or something,” Tom offered.
Amy said. “Give me the card, I’ll do it.”
“Papa says women’s suppose to be quiet in church.”
“I ain’t no woman; I’m a girl, ‘sides Papa never hardly goes to church anyway.”
She led them to the altar steps where they kneeled beneath the cross and bowed their heads. “God, if you’re there” she began, “we never got to see grandma before she passed, and so we bought her this card.
She held it up in the mullioned light. “We all signed it, even Allen. ‘Tho he’s no kin, I think she loved him, and will remember him.”
“She did, too love me, she told me.”
“Schuss,” Tom elbowed him.
“Anyway, if you’re here and not too busy we were thinkin’ maybe you could give it to her. I know it’s not polite to read other people’s mail, but maybe you have to, ‘cause you gotta be careful what gets into heaven, least ways that what Grandma said.”
“That sounds dumb,” Allen said.
“Schuss,” Tom admonished.
“We wanted to be with her in the hospital, but they wouldn’t let us.” She glimpsed at Allen. “I think that was really dumb, because when she saw us, she smiled but when she saw the doctors she frowned.”
Amy opened the envelope and took out the card. It showed the picture of a beautiful house, the front door was opened and the yard was filled with flowers, and butterflies. It read: WELCOME TO YOUR NEW HOME
Inside, it was blank except for their names followed by three hearts.
“They won’t let us talk at the funeral today but we want her to know we love her and hope she’s happy.”
“Amen,” her companions added.
Laying the card beneath the cross, it suddenly and silently floated to the ceiling and disappeared.
Later, some would claim this was merely caused by wind in a drafty sanctuary and moonlight in the rafters, but these three knew otherwise and were never to doubt God’s presence in church, or anywhere else, again.
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