2017-10-11 / Editorial

THE LOFT

Don Lively

Let's talk about The View.

No, not that "The View".

Not the one where several miserable, bitter, hateful washed-up celebrities spend their time spewing miserable, bitter, hateful opinions. I conducted an unscientific survey among my closest associates to determine if any of them watched The View.

Not one soul admitted to it.

Personally, you'd have to duct tape me to a chair and nail my eyelids open to get me to watch.

So, not that view.

Today's view is one that's familiar to folks all over the Blessed South.

The view from the choir loft.

I sing in the choir at my church. I'm a bass or a baritone, depending on how late I slept and how much coffee I was able to slam before we start singing. I love the choir. I first sang in the same choir long before my squeaky, pre-pubescent tone gave way to a more throaty timbre. Back then Aunt Clara was a steadfast member of the choir and, if I remember right, was also choir director.

Now, after a layoff of several decades, I'm happy to be back contributing my own joyful noise.

But, there are other benefits to sitting in the choir loft.

The view.

For the first half of the service choir members face the congregation and we see pretty much everything that goes on.

We see who comes in late.

We see who enthusiastically sings every word of every hymn.

We see who is already starting to nod off even before the preaching starts.

Such is life in a Southern choir loft.

And, because I'm prone to let my mind wander in pretty much any situation, I often study the faces of folks who have come to worship. Some faces that I've known for as long as I've been on Earth.

Other faces that I've come to love in recent years.

Faces.

Back toward the rear, maybe four pews from the back, is the face of a fellow that I love dearly. He sits with his wonderful wife close to the same location every Sunday. Every piece of mail, every birthday card, every puppy love letter or postcard that I ever got, from the time I was born till I left to seek my destiny Out West probably passed through his hands or at least through his work station, he having been at the local post office for all of my youth.

On the same side, the second row from the front, sits the couple who own the store where I buy most of my gas, all of my ice and the occasional Sunday dinner. I've known the lady her whole life and when my eyes find her face in the crowd it's always adorned with a smile gifted from God.

Over there is the face that I depend on for most medical advice. Professionally she's one step from an MD but on my personal scale she's more vital to my health than the myriad of doctors who have kept me patched up and alive. She's usually with us in the choir but on a recent Sunday a sore throat sidelined her and gave me an opportunity to see her face out there and to remember how often I've called her from some distant outpost, desperate for her assistance. She's never failed me. The only thing she won't do is administer injections into my backside. Good. That would make for awkward conversation at the church house.

Toward the middle is the face of the man who gets our electricity back on every time there's a power outage.

That ruddy face back there helps me find whatever I need when I require tools or hardware. His place of employment has it all.

Two chairs away from me, in the choir, is the face of the fellow who sells me tires and oil changes and keeps my vehicles on the road.

And that pretty face sitting at the piano using her musical gifts to accompany the choir, she and her husband own one of my favorite restaurants. Their hushpuppies will be served to Jesus in Heaven one day.

There are plenty of other faces I could tell you about, but, the point is, around these parts, we worship with the same folks that we love and care about outside the walls of the church.

I never get weary of the view.

Or the faces.

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