A thin, metallic sound rippled through the room. Everyone breathed in that long, tinny whisper and couldn’t exhale a word.

At the front of the room was its epicenter: a short-haired, blonde woman who looked to be in her late thirties. A hollow chalice was balanced in the flat palm of her left hand. A thin wooden pestle was in the other.

She examined the crowd before her: fathers and sons dressed in blue button-downs and stiffly ironed khakis, mothers and daughters draped in delicate pastels. I saw her gaze rest on me: a small girl in a deep red sweater-dress and shiny black Mary Janes.

“Thank you all for coming to All Spirits. We are so grateful to have built such a wonderful community here in this church.” She paused a moment.

I anticipated the words that would come out of her mouth. I was tempted to reach for the heavy black book tucked into the pew in front of me, but every one kept their hands crossed in their laps.

“Please open your books to page 133. The song is ‘Trust and Obey’.” I reached for the book and opened its leathery cover. My fingers brushed over the pages, the thinnest I’d ever seen. My father stood up next to me, holding on to half of the book, reminding me to stand up, too. I followed his motion and leaned over to see the words on the page.

The organist’s wooden bench screeched. Then, in a blink, he began playing a distant, foreign tune.

“When we walk with the Lord,

In the light of His word,

What a glory He sheds our way!,

While we do His good will,

He abides with us still,

And with all who will trust and obey…”

I softly hummed the words to myself, eyes darting back and forth between the page and the crowd around me. There were hundreds of psalms in this book – how could they remember all of the words to this one? How did they know every inflection in pitch, every note, so perfectly?

No one smiled. They clearly weren’t happy. But, they weren’t unhappy either. They were reading this because it came with the church. Did it come with being a Protestant?

“Then in fellowship sweet

We will sit at His feet,

Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;

What He says we will do,

Where He sends we will go;

I paid attention to the last line: “Never fear, only trust,” a deep inhale, “and obey.”

Shannon Daniels
Age 15, Grade 10
Girls Write Now
Gold Key

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