The warmth of the building swirls around the family as they step past the threshold. Smiling faces greeting them each way they look; people engaged in conversation and laughing. Down the hallway the ushers stand handing out programs.
Accepting the pamphlets, each member of the familing file into the pews, the son looks over the crowd. A few elders conversing, other familys sitting, some talking, some reading and looking over the planned event curiously. Sitting on the red pillowed chair, he pushes the hair away from his eyes and continues watching. Mouth closed into a thin line, he closes his eyes and tries to ignore the insufferable sound of the two other family members arguing quietly.
Finally they stop, only halting for the strings of music now beginning to waft over the crowd. The stage in front of them filled with a band of eight people bursting into an uplifting and major-keyed sound. Their words seeking to inspire and their chords filling the ears. For a brief moment, the tingle down his spine gave him pause. But just as quickly as it came, the feeling was gone. Replaced by growing discomfort as the number of people in the room increased.
Soon enough, the room was filled and the wave of voices was ringing out. Above all them: the stage's three singer's voices pierced the air easily. Their high pitched and sweet voices quivering and holding each note with a keen tremelo. The son watched, trying to pick out each voice and discern which face it came from.
Realizing he was staring at one singer, he looked away, ashamed for a moment. She was beautiful, all he wanted was to know if the songbird he was hearing was her, yet he didn't want her to see him looking. What if she thought he was a creep? He looked up at the words on the screen, then between each singers face, noting the off key note from one, and the loudest from the middle. Yet, the girl on the right's voice eluded him. Drowned out in the sea of hymnal worship.
He looked again. The brown wavy curls framed her small angular face. He watched her mouth, trying to pick out which strain of the song fit the way she sung. Noting when the microphone was up, when it was down. He continued to distract himself from the anxious feeling welling inside him as more and more people stood and sang around him. Like an anchor, his pursuit of her voice kept him steady.
Finally he heard it, a crisp and clear timber. It was beautiful, and he was satisfied. His momentary task was complete, and he watched her a little longer. Wondering how she had ended up singing on a stage, what had motivated her, when had she learned to sing? A thousand questions wondering about this person's life pounded his head.
Overwhelmed, he tried to focus on something else, the dozens of people nearby, the backs turned to him as they sung, none afforded an opportunity for musings. He reflected inward, trying to fight against his growing fear of people looking at him. His unkempt hair an embarssment, shoes salted from the winter weather outside and lacking shine. His pants and jacket both faded and grey with age and lack of care. Glasses broken and perched crookedly on his face, refusing to stay up, instead continously sliding down his nose.
Shifting his weight back and forth on his feet, he stared at the lyrics projected onto the walls. Words of hope, lifting up, and affirmations of love spattered with other religious feel-good. Closing his eyes again, he listened to the melody instead, the sweeping ranges of the instruments, compliments of bass and treble. The voices in a beautiful harmony. He began to calm, the anxiety falling away as his ears made up for what his closed eyes could never do.