DAY 3: DECEMBER 1, 2020

When I was young, I was never made to go to church. I wanted to go. At the time, my parents didn’t go to church, so I went with my grandparents.

I remember getting ready. I would trail my grandmother, admiring the lipstick she wore. She would eventually open the off-limits cedar chest. She would let me choose a pair of gloves and a fancy purse. The cedar smell made me think of beautiful clothes and elegant parties.

Once I had my purse, it was off to my grandfather to get something to fill it. He would be watching a gospel program on TV, but he would always get up to get me Juicy Fruit, a notepad, and a pencil.

I’d use them all during the 11:00 service. Stuffing multiple pieces of gum in my mouth while I drew pictures of Jesus, a fair number of them showing him on the cross, but always with a holy light around him.

If I got bored with drawing and it was summer, I’d look out the open windows and marvel at the sight of stained glass windows next to grass and trees. Other times, I’d stare at the baptismal pool and the painting behind it. I would wonder how far down the river God lived.

Even with that thought, I knew Jesus was close to me. It never occurred to me to question that fact. He was as real to me as Juicy Fruit gum, my drawings, and the hymns we sang at the end of the service. I will always be indebted to my grandparents that Jesus is always beside me.

Chris Eddinger