Unity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Church, a family? Yeah, right. That’s what I was thinking as my eyes wandered over the sea of faces in front of me. They stared back, some interested, some bored out of their minds, all gazing toward the pulpit, where a woman was reciting the first reading. It was Sunday - and like most Sundays, I was doing altar service.

On this particular day, I was having a problem - the speaker above my head was not turned on, and conveniently, there was no missalette with which I could follow along. I tried once more to distinguish the murmuring words of the lector, but in vain. It was like walking around without my glasses, only my ears were hearing fuzzy echoes rather than my eyes witnessing blurry images. Bluntly put, I had no idea what the reader was saying.

Which is why, rather than reflecting on the wisdom of the Old Testament, I was pondering the faces of the congregation. I can conjure an image of myself on that day being just as I am each time I do altar service: My seat in the church sanctuary provides me with a beautiful view of all present. I can tell so much about the people from the way they are sitting; I can even make a guess as to what they are thinking. That man toward the back appears weary, while this woman is reflecting seriously on what her ears are telling her.

Then again, they are only faces, after all. I may have interpreted them all wrong. Can they see me looking at them? Can they tell what I am thinking?

They say that church is a family, a togetherness. And it’s true we can all get something similar out of it. But are we really one group with a common goal? Can I love and know the people behind these faces? Can I feel unity here and now in this church? And the answer is tremendously disheartening. Try as I may, I cannot see a family in those strangers’ faces.

Then deep within my thoughts stabs a voice. It is a familiar one. My friend Holly is singing! Her solo voice rings out, echoing back by way of the towering walls. I look to the choir loft, but she is not there. Then I realize - she’s singing the verses of the Psalm. She’s at the pulpit, in full view of everyone! I shift and struggle to see around a large candle, and there she is. So strong, so familiar, my best friend is singing for the entire church.

As my ecstatic mind dances along with her lovely voice, swaying in time with the notes, I turn once more to that forgotten sea of faces. They are still staring, yet this time they are watching Holly sing. Suddenly the crowd seems altogether smaller and closer to me. We are all hearing the same words and witnessing the same girl. In this one moment, I feel that if we can share such experiences, such beliefs, then we can share anything. In these few seconds, as Holly sings, I see a family around me, feel its love. In a flash of insight, I realize the only thing standing between us and unity is our frame of mind.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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