-Elizabeth Kady Stanton
Dan always sits in the third row on Sunday mornings. Sitting in the first or second rows would make people think he was trying too hard to be pious, but sitting too far away from the preacher would be an obvious sign that he was probably fornicating with the nanny, (or some other mortal sin of the upper middle class,) and was avoiding "accountability." The third row was a happy medium between Bible thumper and wretched sinner, so it seemed like the best option.
"Remember to love your neighbor as yourself, church," the preacher calls from behind his pulpit, his starched white dress shirt wrapped tightly around his ample middle. "Remember those less fortunate than yourselves. That's what our Lord would do."
Dan didn't realize he was dosing until his wife poked him in the ribs with the corner of her "World's Best Mom," prayer journal that she had received from her children last Mother's Day. He shifted, trying to pretend he had merely been deep in prayer, knowing she didn't buy it for a minute.
After a few prayers and old hymns played with electric guitars and drums that would make his grandmother blush, Dan's wife stood, walking to the front and taking the microphone from the preacher. She was the head of the church's women's ministry, (along with seven thousand other committees she was a member of, most of which Dan was convinced didn't really exist,) and began giving details about the ladies tea that would be held at Mrs. Murphy's house next Saturday, and the bake sale at the church next month. All proceeds from these events of course going to "assist outreach activities," (also known as the Buy Our Pastor Larger Shirts fund.)
Finally the two hours that Dan is forced to wear a suit and pretend that he doesn't care that he's missing vital ESPN footage are over, and he rises to leave, shaking hands of colleagues and their wives as he exits. He heads out to do what he does every Sunday; pull the car up to the glass front doors while his wife retrieves their very planned, very finished brude of three children.
She sits on the curb across from the bright white church, watching the sea of well dressed white people burst forth from behind their walls of safety. They walk towards their glowing red, blue, black, and silver company Sedans and SUV's, most of them much newer than the BUick she lived in with her mother. She normally might be embarrassed about the stains on her jeans, or the holes in her T-Shirt, but she knows none of them would notice. She sits out here every Sunday, glimpses of the life she will never have passing before her deep brown eyes. She watches him leave, the same tired expression on his face, the same black leather Bible under his arm, just like always. Every week he looks right at her, but he never sees her. It is as if he is looking through her to the high school football field beyond.
"Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me."