Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Incident at Communion Service

by Don Jennings

Coleman Hawkins came back to church today. He hadn't attended in a while. I don't know where he'd been, though I'd wondered about him.  When we passed each other in the doorway of the vestibule, he smiled, held the door for me, and said “Good Morning, Ma'am.” I think I actually smiled back at him as I passed. That was how comfortable I felt. I guess time really does heal all.

The first time I saw him watching me, let me tell you, that was another matter. I was in line to take Communion, listening to the pastor repeat the familiar words about the body and the blood of the Savior to the person in front, when I felt his eyes on me. Coleman's eyes, I mean. They touched me, like a stranger had reached out and wrapped his hand around my hip.

I turned to look, to see who it was, and there he sat in the middle pew, all dark eyes and hair and that intent stare. Taking me in, all at once. Not just gawking at my figure, or forcing eye contact like some guys will do, but absorbing me from head to toe. For a moment it was just me and him. And I was naked.

I mean, other people were still in the church, too, I guess. But I lost awareness of them. And I suppose I still had my clothes on, in the literal sense. But I felt bare.

I don't mean I felt naked like in a dream where everyone else is clothed, but you're not, so you're all embarrassed. I mean I felt “nude”. Like I was a classical statue in a museum, or maybe a model in a swimsuit shot who got caught up in the moment and showed too much skin. Or like I was posing for one of those girlie magazines. Which, of course, is something I would never do. Though I have thought about
it, once or twice. Late at night.

Anyway, there I stood, exposed, alone in the sanctuary with this man whose I name I did not even know at the time, when I heard the pastor's voice. He was summoning me. Not to follow Jesus, I mean I guess that too, but he was telling me the line had moved and it was my turn to take Communion. So I swallowed the wafer, sipped the juice, and hurried back to my place beside Jack in the pew.

Jack is a wonderful husband. He likes to talk about his “wild” days back in the army, but as far as I can tell, the worst thing he ever did was stayed up late playing poker and drinking beer. He's real predictable, and that's a good thing in a husband. We make love twice a week. Usually once on a weekday evening, then again on Saturday.  He likes to see me naked in the afternoon sunshine, with the rays coming through the window above the curtains, bathing my skin in daylight.

I would never do anything to hurt Jack. For weeks after it happened--after the indiscretion with Coleman, I mean--I prayed for forgiveness every night. Well, maybe not every night, but definitely on the nights I made love with Jack, I prayed. I begged God not to let my secret get out and hurt my husband. I asked that Coleman Hawkins be struck mute, or something like that, so that no one could ever know what took place between us. I took my case to The Father, confessed, repented... and then just went on about my business. I bought groceries. Picked up the kids from school. I acted as if nothing had ever happened, and after a while, it almost seemed as if it hadn't.

Now, I rarely ever think about it. Just sometimes late at night, when Jack is snoring gently beside me, and I am alone with my thoughts. Or sometimes, just every once in a long while, when I close my eyes and turn inward, towards my secrets, on our sunlit bed of a Saturday afternoon.

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