"We had only one Sunday School class then, which weather usually confined to the kitchen of the church. "
While driving past my old church yesterday, I could not help but notice the bit of lawn by the parking lot where I once would enjoy Sunday School during the spring and summer months. That was back before we built the bigger sanctuary and converted the old sanctuary into classrooms. We had only one Sunday School class then, which weather usually confined to the kitchen of the church. The profusion of golden forsythia petals draws me back in time.
I am an eight-year-old, enjoying my Sunday mourning. The worship service is ended and, for those aged six to twelve, it is time for Sunday School. With my two teachers and my eleven classmates, I happily file out of the small, brown church building. The air is fresh, contrasting with the dusty, stale air inside the building. The sun is shining here at Bible Truth Fellowship. The snow of winter has long ago melted away, but it is the first Sunday that the grass is dry enough to sit on. The air on my skin is cool, but the sun is warm where in brushes lightly against my cheeks and arms.
A young woman with short hair the colour of honey encourages us to sing "Father Abraham," a wide smile dancing on her face. She and the other teacher, a teenaged guy in a brown sweater, lead us in the fast-paced, silly song. As we spin in the "turn around" verse, budding trees, blooming flowers, newly washed cars, brightly-coloured dresses, smiling faces all become a kaleidoscope before my eyes. Finally, at the end of the song, we are ordered: "Sit down!" I flop laughing onto the damp grass, exhausted.
We are finally quiet, and I hear two birds chirping in the hazelnut tree. They squabble noisily, and one chases the other away. The displaced bird lands in the parking space reserved for my pastor in front of his car, walks to the right, then to the left, cocks his head, considering us, then flies around the side of the church building. A shiny turquoise fly buzzes past my nose. He is followed by a sooty ant who crawls over my ankle. I twitch my ankle, resenting his tickling passage.
As the teachers begin telling us the familiar story of the Triumphal donkey ride Jesus took into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, I look around at my natural surroundings. Behind me sits a forsythia bush, its prolific branches coated with brilliant yellow blossoms. The hazelnut tree grows beside my two teachers. The grass I sit on is soft, but prickly on my bare legs. The swoosh and hum of a bright blue car that drives by on the nearby road catches my attention momentarily.
One boy sitting to my right fiddles with a twig, his white, short-sleeved, cotton shirt reflecting sunlight painfully into my eyes. A girl in a pink frilly dress in front of me plays with her white hair ribbon while giggling and whispering with her friend who is clothed in a yellow, sleeveless dress. My brother who is sitting to my left undoes the top button on his pinstripe shirt, seeking relief from the day’s heat that has crept up on us.
Too soon, this Sunday School session is over. We stand up to reenter the building, and I brush off the grass and twigs that cling, leach-like to my legs. Done this, I scamper with the rest of the group back into the building to find my parents and go home.