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The Light of God MAG
Around his twelfth birthday, Ronald became aware of the simple fact that God lived in the third light from the left in his church.
It was obvious enough that Ronald was surprised no one else realized it, but since his mother never mentioned it, he said nothing. He was used to noticing things that others didn’t. It was just life.
Before discovering the whereabouts of God, Ronald had considered church a momentary setback to an interesting Sunday afternoon. Afterwards, however, in his spare time after school, and on the weekends, he would walk down to the church and sit, legs swinging, listening to the services and watching God’s light.
Once the priest stopped talking and the service ended, either the deacon or the priest would lead him out. He never complained, and it seemed like they were accustomed to his presence. Sometimes the deacon would even offer Ronald some hard candy.
When they led him out, though, Ronald often hid in the bushes near a window and peered in to watch the light. It was okay with his mother, as long as he was home by the time she came back from the night shift at the plant.
One day, when the light’s glare was beginning to hurt his eyes, Ronald watched the shadows that the light cast. The long black stripes of pillars outside the entrance led out into the failing light. Ronald noticed that while the light seemed strong inside the church, it must have been flickering, because outside the shadows were dancing.
The priest was standing near the pillars, the shadows falling across his face. Across from him stood two tall men, younger than Ronald’s father, but still adults. The priest was almost yelling, gesturing in agitation.
“Absolutely not! Not only will I not perform the ceremony, I will not allow this perversion of one of the church’s most sacred sacraments to take place within this establishment!” One of the men tried to say something, but the priest cut him off, yelling for them to leave.
When the men left, Ronald turned to watch the light again. In the darkness, the light seemed to shine more brightly than ever, but outside the shadows remained unchanged.
Ronald remembered the priest. He was still standing where he’d been, mumbling to himself and reading the Bible. Every once in a while, he would stop to drink the sacramental wine.
They’d never let Ronald try anything from that bottle, which they called the Blood of the Lord, but it was, he figured, probably to keep himself thinking about God. The priest talked a lot during services about keeping God inside you all the time. Ronald thought this seemed silly, of course, because God lived in the light, but there were still plenty of things in the world that he didn’t understand.
Ronald watched the light for another few minutes, then walked home, trying to walk only on the curb the way the older kids did. Soon, he figured, he’d be able to, and that day would mark one step closer to the mystical world of adulthood.
The next day was Sunday, so Ronald went to Mass with his mother. He spent his time watching the light, of course, but he still managed to listen to the priest. He talked for a while about how the violent people across the Atlantic Ocean were wrong in not being more accepting of others, like the good Lord was.
On the way out Ronald noticed that the two men from the night before were sitting near the front, praying. The priest seemed to have noticed them, but he didn’t say hello. Instead, he went to talk to the deacon.
His mother got in the car and Ronald, knowing that there wouldn’t be another sermon for a few hours, went to his bush to watch the light. Forty-five minutes later, Ronald was taking a break from looking at the light because his eyes were playing tricks on him. The light seemed slightly duller than usual. While he waited for his eyes to stop making mistakes, he watched the pillars.
For some reason, those two men were still there. Although the light was beginning to fail, he could see their faces, and they didn’t seem sad like the last time. They were animated, talking to each other and smiling. For a minute, Ronald watched, then realized that he wasn’t the only one watching. In a pillar’s shadow, the deacon was also watching. Light glinted off his eyes, but his face was hidden. The deacon moved forward and said something. The two men turned to meet him, one of them waving slightly. They looked happy; Ronald guessed that the deacon had said something nice.
There was no warning for what happened next. One minute the deacon was laughing and smiling, the next, he’d pulled something out of his robe and hit one of the men with it. He hit the other one, too; both fell into the darkness of the pillar’s shadow and Ronald couldn’t see them anymore.
Ronald was confused. Was this really the same man who would smile at him and offer him candies? He turned back to the window. The light would calm him. He peered in the window and gasped in horror. God’s light was barely brighter than any other in the room. If he hadn’t known better, he would have been unable to distinguish its holy glow from those of the ordinary lights.
Panting in near panic, Ronald rushed from his bush toward the door, hoping against all likelihood that the light would be brighter inside. He tried to be quiet passing through the front doors, but he must have made a sound because the deacon looked up. There was a splash of blood across the front of his white robe. The deacon stared at him for a moment, his eyes dark.
Ronald held his gaze, then turned and fled into the church, shoving aside the double doors with desperation. He passed through the narthex quickly and entered the sanctuary, his eyes already searching for the light. To his dismay he still couldn’t tell God’s light from the others. He fell to his knees and began to sob uncontrollably.
He didn’t hear the priest approach until he was in front of him. Tears gushing, Ronald looked up at him miserably.
“What’s wrong, my son?” the priest asked kindly, putting his hand on Ronald’s shoulder. “Why are you here this late?”
Ronald couldn’t find any words through his sorrow. Behind him, the door to the church opened to admit the deacon. Ronald turned. The deacon’s eyes fell on him, then flicked to the priest. The blood on the deacon’s robe stood out in the glow of the church.
The hand on Ronald’s shoulder tightened. Ronald twisted to see the priest’s face. His eyes were cold and considering. The priest’s other hand came down slowly.
Above the priest’s head, God’s light flickered and died.