Christmas Sunday in Church with My Father

Twenty years from that sunny land of my birth.
Twenty years from that sacred building with its mahogany pulpit,
choir seats and long benches.
Memories of vibrant Sunday School classes and Youth Fellowship
hikes on Red Hills
danced in my mind.
A time of my life long gone,
yet more precious than silver.
Faces of long known ‘sisters’ and ‘brothers’
clearly remembered, like the red church hymnal.
Faces wrinkled by age,
bodies shortened by time
and eyes dimmed by cataracts.
Their showers of welcome and hugs
poured on me like needed blessings.

My father’s tuneless voice floated in the air.
His face as radiant as the summer sun
while his spirit soared like an eagle.
I winked at him.
I felt the power of our love,
even stronger than the historical Kingston Parish Church.
Altos, sopranos, tenors and croakers
flooded the room to the music of
‘The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy.’
My shoulders and my tambourine were in unison
as the Christmas joy flowed through my body
like the fragrance of the flaming red Christmas poinsettia.
‘Amen,’ shouted my father
as his slender hands moved
like that of a musical conductor.
‘Daughter, Merry Christmas, I’m happy you’re here,’
he whispered to me.
I squeezed his hand.

—Jolieth McIntosh, Madison, WI