Sunday services were over when Señor Gonzales, the new caretaker of the Mount Moriyah Baptist Church, bounded out of the basement control room, climbed the steps, ran through the dark sanctuary, and waited to report to Reverend McDonald what he had seen.
There was a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and Señor Gonzales, taking deep breaths to slow his pounding heart, bent down, resting his hands on his knees, and peeped through the keyhole.
His eyes opened wide.
The church’s treasurer, Sister Haughtense, had mahogany, doll-like features and wore the latest-fashion hat cocked to one side, which complimented her designer dress. She sat upright; her clasped hands inches from a gold offering plate. Reverend McDonald sat across from her, arms spread out on the table.
He looked at the scant offering, barely visible inside the plate, and shook his fat head. After looking off for a short while with his chin in his palm, he chuckled and smiled at Sister Haughtense.
“They said that the hat you wore today tops them all,” he told her. “I think they’re right. What’s that around the brim? Lilacs?”
“Violets,” Sister Haughtense said, beaming.
“You know, Sister Haughtense. I have no choice. I’m gonna have to rent out our Annex.”
“To the Muslims?” Sister Haughtense said, shocked as her demeanor changed. Though tiny, she seemed to tower over the much larger man.
“Your mind,” she told the reverend, “is too small to understand my God’s doing. You’re not to rely on your minuscule thinking but just trust in him.”
Gonzales stepped back, rubbed his eyes and refocused them as he stared at her through the peephole with confusion.
“Been two months since my husband’s gone on to be with the Lord. His pension money was spent quickly and I was broke,” Sister Haughtense said, wagging a finger. “I was left with over five thousand dollars in credit card debt and didn’t know what to do, but the Lord told me to wait and not to worry.”
She began to tear up and her voice broke. “Everything would be okay, He told me. He said He was gonna bless me that next day... then again one week after that before 11 PM and not sooner than 6 AM, exactly thirteen minutes past an even hour. I didn’t understand,” she added, straightening up, “but He blessed me just in time, just like He said!” And she burst out crying.
“I hear you, Sister Haughtense, I get the message” the reverend said, handing her a handkerchief across the table, an empathetic look on his face.
Gonzales was besides himself with confusion. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and looked down the hallway from which he had come, then back at the office door, unsure as whether he should burst in that very moment or run back and confirm what his weekly check of the newly-installed burglar detecting cameras revealed.
Wasn’t it this woman now in the office who, alone in the counting room last Sunday, February 22, had picked up a bill someone had dropped accidentally on the floor and raised her hands to heaven, screaming, before tucking it away in her purse? And today, Sunday, February 29, wasn’t this the same hatless woman who had drawn an offering plate to the edge of the table, raised her hands in praise, and, on dropping them, had tipped the plate so that bills had slid from the pile to the floor?
“Come in, Mr. Gonzales!,” Reverend McDonald shouted.
“Mr. Gonzales,” Sister Haughtense said, sniffling. “God bless you.” She dabbed her eyes. “I been meaning to tell you you’re doing great work. God sees this, and He’s going to bless you!”
(above text by Vernard David Kennedy)