On the way to Charlotte, taking grandson Nathaniel back to school, we went to a church we’ve been to twice before. It is one we particularly like. It’s a beautiful gray stone church on a winding mountain road, and a rushing stream borders the property. Inside is even more attractive, because the people are very friendly and worshipful. They use the old standard liturgy and sing the chorales that guide your thoughts in deep channels. Like icing on a cake, the pastor chants the service easily and precisely.
John couldn’t tell from the web site if this church was even having a service on Sunday morning. No one responded to email or a phone call. What a surprise to pull into the parking lot and find it full! An unmasked man walked to the entrance and went in. We followed and found the church as full of people as it had been in past years. There were paper bulletins and hymn books in the pews, something we hadn’t seen for a year. Even more shocking, one man shook our hands to welcome us! We might have thought we were in a time warp, except there were a few older couples wearing masks.
We found out the aunt of the pastor’s wife died the day before, and they would be leaving to go to the funeral and on to Colorado where their grandchild was born a month early. No wonder no one responded to email and web messages!
What we saw at the church was almost pre-COVID behavior, where things looked much like they did a year ago. I wondered if that is what our church in Asheville will be like some months from now.
I know the governor of NC issued more relaxed COVID guidelines the previous Friday, but I hadn’t read them. After church we went to a tavern Nathaniel chose from his phone as we drove along. It was in a small town near Charlotte. Masks were the only thing that screamed COVID. People sat at the bar, and tables were not as far apart as they probably were before. We used plastic menus instead of paper ones. I didn’t feel like I was being followed by an army of workers wielding disinfectants while silently cursing me for breathing. This may be a preview of how restaurants will be in the months to come.
How lovely it will be when the freedoms of the past and those of the present feel similar!