I arrive at the ceremony late and go to the side entrance where I think I might slip in unnoticed. I am not recognised. It has obviously been too many years. That, or nobody is interested anymore. I sit within sight of the pew we had once taken up as a family, in those days when we were enclosed, not caring now whether the person I dispossessed was male or female, young or old.
Above, the vaulted soared ceiling, with its gold painted ribs, and carefully infilled white recesses; the naive six pointed stars echoing the weight of the cross-of-guilt that was for everyone. It is forbidden to think that you are elsewhere, even when your eyes wander in desperation from the centre stage. It is also a matter of making sacred every stone, of raising every timber from the lowly timber supplier's yard, of sharpening and blessing every nail so they can redeem, as they penetrate the flesh of the innocent.
The shapeless occupant of the space next to me, slides one knee to the dusty kneeler, then rolls the remaining buttock partially off the seat. She still manages to retain her occupancy rights. Her bulk spreads more comprehensively when it settles. She blesses herself three times, in quick succession, thumb and forefinger pressed tightly together, pinching the shapeless dough of her being into a more dignified and holy shape; a fitting offer for self immolation.
I too slide off the seat. I try to project the nonchalance of a regular. I proclaim my allegiance through my obvious lack of interest, but the horror of realisation - that to the casual observer- I too fit in, causes me to sit bolt upright in protest. Indignant, I push away from the kneeler and step out, leave without any further ceremony.
It is hard not to acknowledge the ghostly wafered presence, up behind the shiny golden door. It is marked out by the unblinking red light. As I walk down the aisle, I steel myself against acknowledging his entirely holy, non presence.
© niall oconnor 2015