Once a month,
they gather here in the basement of this old church to prepare an evening meal:
a communal sharing for members and non-members.
Teachers, farmers, industry workers, nurse, administrators, bus driver,
teeners and tweeners in The God Squad.
Once a year,
the men do the cooking and cleaning,
so after a day of snow and rain it’s sausage and pancakes for supper.
With Jay in charge and stirring a few quarts of homemade syrup,
Todd and Chris grill pancakes on three griddles
while Rick and the preacher mostly stay out of the way and tend the warming trays.
Once the guests start showing up,
three of the girls start serving,
“How many pancakes and how many sausages?”
Butter and syrup
and long rows of chairs at tables
with friends and neighbors and family members sitting together.
Once Chris has made the suggestion,
the preacher loads up a plate with fresh pancakes and more sausages
and moves down the rows.
Young men heavy with the day’s duties,
young mothers wearied by theirs,
and others from eight to eighty take seconds and thirds and even a few fourths.
Once everyone seems to have eaten all they want,
the guys in the kitchen and The God Squad
begin the cleaning—wiping, scrubbing, washing, draining and drying.
I watch all this,
the teasing between old and young,
the doing of things that need doing,
the sharing of food and duty,
the joy of fun and fellowship,
nods and laughter,
questions and answers.
I’m not sure that this is any less a taste of heaven
than what happens upstairs
once a week.