I'm twelve years old and am getting ready for the 6:00 a.m. Christmas Mass. It's still dark and the bedroom is cold. I'm in the church choir and must be there for this early Mass and again at 11:00 a.m. My father is already up.
"No breakfast for me," I say. "I'm taking communion."
He has his coffee and a chunk of bread and says he's coming with me.
"Why?" I ask.
"It's dark outside. It's not safe.”
My father never went to church. Although raised as a Catholic, he often questioned the church's authority and the demands placed upon the parishioners. Will he come inside, I wonder. I try to picture him kneeling, bowing his head, praying, sitting through the sermon.
I'd rather be alone, I think to myself. I'm not a baby. But I say nothing.
After a twenty-minute walk through empty streets we reach St. Anthony's. Brightly lighted, decorated with pines and poinsettias, the pews are only half full. My father sees me up to the choir loft, then gives me money to buy a roll at the Jewish bakery on the way home.
"You're not staying?" I ask.
"No. It won't be dark after Mass. You'll be O.K. coming home."
Relieved, yet disappointed, I join the other choir members.
voices sing out
through stained glass windows
the rising sun