The electronic church bells peeled nine times as Kirsti walked into the narthex. The automatic doors closed quietly behind her as she stood looking at the wooden cross above the altar. She wondered how long the ceiling lamp, which was meant to light the cross, had been off center as it actually shone on the wall three inches to the right. Patton padded towards the altar, exploring this new environment. Kirsti, walked to the organ, caressed it with her left hand, mouthed the words, “I’ve missed you,” and switched on the small organ light.
She sat in the unlighted nave for several minutes without moving, before placing the sheet music on the organ and smoothing over it with her right hand. She adjusted the organ lamp, sat back and placed her fingers over the keys. Her fingers waited in anticipation of the feel of the keys. Kirsti took a deep breath, told herself to relax, to give herself over and started to play.
The hymn “If thou but suffer God to guide thee” started hesitantly a bit rough, unpolished, but Kirsti kept playing and soon she was in her zone. She reveled in the feel, the joy, the pleasure of playing, of bringing forth such joyful and expansive sound. Patton, walked around the side of the organ and sat facing Kirsti. He tilted his head to the left and then lay down, resting his head on his paws. “If thou but suffer God to guide thee” came to a finish and Kirsti held the final chord for an extended time.
Outside the church, Fofo, Margaret Olson’s poodle mix, was lifting his leg against the base of the church sign when Margaret thought she heard “Abide with me”. She asked, “Fofo? Do you hear organ music?” Fofo, uninterested in anything except a cat, which had dashed across the parking lot, pulled on his pink nylon leash. Margaret scolded, “Fofo stop that,” and turned up her hearing aid. It was then that she realized who was playing, she smiled. “Fofo, listen.”
Inside the church, tears streamed down Kirsti’s face. Patton brought his head up, stood, put his front paws on the organ bench and lightly licked Kirsit’s left cheek. Kirsti laughed, “Thanks baby. You’re such a good dog. You’re mommy’s lover, aren’t you?”