By Jon Moray
For Shane, it was one of those days, in the middle of one of those weeks, at the end of one of those months, during one of those years…and it was only May. His downward spiral of misfortune included a job demotion, a diabetes diagnosis, and constant hounding from collection agencies over medical bills.
Lately, it seemed as if the world greeted him with honking horns, derogatory gestures, stoned faced demeanors, and a revolving door of humanity that needlessly tossed him out of the way.
Shane labored through the work morning after battling another loud, sleepless night filled with a flurry of expletives between angry neighbors at 2 AM outside of his apartment.
Nearing the noon hour, he ventured out under the warm sun to find a place to enjoy his lunch. He found an elm tree shaded, park bench, two blocks from his place of employment and across the street from an elementary school.
While unwrapping the aluminum foil from his egg salad sandwich, Shane noticed a group of kids playing Tag behind a chain link fence enclosure. He sympathized with the anxiety of some of them trying to get back to base, as their youthful screams brought back boyhood memories. Four of them reached the concrete stoop oasis safely, expressing satisfied relief in their own animated way.
To find a base, if only for a short while, would do me a lot of good. Shane wrestled with that sentiment, as the blaring city sounds and a blur of pedestrians stomping by compounded his depression. With appetite lost, he wrapped up the half-eaten sandwich, and sunk his head in his hands.
Suddenly, a church bell tolled off in the distance. Great, now I am being bombarded spiritually, Shane reasoned, until memories of his mother’s visits of solemn prayer in church quieted his thoughts. As the echoing bells continued, he was overcome with the warm, childhood recollection of watching her spend tender moments of peace, talking to God, and allowing the church’s calming ambiance to comfort her. She told him God was everywhere, but it was there where she felt Him closest.
Shane shot up and walked lively toward the direction of the bells. His walk turned into a jog and then into a run as he neared the red, brick veneered, Victorian styled church. He hurriedly scaled the steps up and pulled the brass, cylinder shaped handle on the heavy, solid oak, wood door.
He carefully sealed himself inside, entered the vaulted nave, and to his left, was greeted by several soft flamed candles in rose colored, glass candleholders. The candles flickered harmoniously, and synced to the trickle from a fountain into a porcelain, bowl shaped baptismal font that was to his right. A deep sigh followed by a relieved smile eased his emotions as he surrendered to the soothing comfort of the gentle run of water. An aura of tranquility blanketed him as he walked towards the pews. The welcoming, natural sunlight peeking through the multi-colored, stained glass windows was all that illuminated the spacious, cast-iron arches that led to the sanctuary. He sat in one of the pews, gave thanks, and basked in the subtle sensation of serenity as he meditated on the vast contrast between the quiet inside and the loudness outside.
Shane could now hear footsteps nearing, in unison with his now steady heartbeat. The pastor approached and knelt beside him.
“You have escaped the hustle and bustle from the world, yes?” the pastor whispered.
“Yes,” Shane’s voice cracked, as he relayed his shortcomings and how his arrival was inspired by children playing Tag, and the toll of the church bells.
A beaming smile wrinkled the pastor’s face, as he mentally recalled his playing experiences. “I can certainly see how the church can be synonymous with a base from a child’s game.”
“I guess I just needed a reminder I can come here to refresh my soul, if only for a short while,” Shane uttered.
“Take all the time you need,“ the pastor said, as he pat Shane’s shoulder, and went into the aisle. “My friend, this base will always be here for you.” he said, warmly.
“I know. I just need a few more quiet moments before I head back out to continue the game…of life.”
“Tag, you’re it,” the pastor sang, with a broad smile, and bid him adieu.
Shane matched his grin and quietly exhaled, enjoying the blissful reassurance that he had discovered his base