He shuffled up the walkway in his worn argyle sweater and brown corduroys. We came out to meet him so he wouldn’t have to climb the two concrete steps to the front door.
“Hi, Dad,” I said, with our usual awkward hug.
I loaded my toddler in the backseat and climbed in beside him. Dad eased himself in the front next to my husband. Mumbling over his shoulder we made small talk on the short drive to church. It was Easter Sunday Eve.
I chatted about Noah’s newest word and the picnic we had planned.
I dreaded the next inevitable question. The answer in recent years was never good. But I had to ask it anyway.
“So, how are you doing, Dad?”
He cleared his throat and looked out the window.
“I’m okay.” Long pause.
My husband shot a look in the rearview mirror that begged me to keep the conversation light.
“I, umm,” Dad continued, “I went to church three times this week. I plan to go again tomorrow at least once. Maybe twice.”
“That’s great,” I said and asked which churches he attended and what each service was like. We pulled into the crowded parking lot and made our way into the worship center.
White lilies lined the stage. Classic hymns recomposed with modern beats pulsed from the speakers. The pastor got up and preached a resurrection message. But all I could think about was my dad’s week. I pictured him sitting off to the side in unfamiliar pews, stranger faces glancing back at him each time he rattle-cough-hacked or blew his nose too loudly. I pictured him surrounded by crowds, but all alone.
It was a sobering glimpse of my dad’s grim reality. The truth was, he didn’t go to church six times during Holy Week because he was super spiritual; he went because he was utterly desperate . . .
Join me over at (in)courage
where I’m sharing the rest of this story
of God reaching into my dad’s darkest pit.