Incorporation: A Novel
As he jogged the familiar though risky route from the church office—cheerfully dodging the ever demanding faithful—down the hall to the sanctuary, hymnal in hand, not five minutes before the beginning of the service (he could already hear hints of the portentous prelude), Stephen instinctively gave his cincture a final, reassuring jerk and tugged the button on the neck of his alb. Behind him flapped the ends of his purple stole. Having vested so often for sacred service, he could make such adjustments even while moving hastily, having no need of a mirror.
He smiled as parishioners passed.
“Stephen, please, please don’t forget to remind them about the Youth Car Wash for Haiti,” an aqua-pantsuited parishioner said. “Remember, you forgot last Sunday. Next Saturday. It’s important. OK?”
“Sure,” he said, suppressing his resentment with a subtlety gained through years of practice.
“Pastor Steve,” a high-pitched, tiny voice peeped from his back. He stopped and turned to find a little girl just behind him. “Can I ask a question?” she said, her plain face brightening into a smile.
“Sure you can.” He mused at the inopportuneness of questions, even when asked by “the least of these,” to someone in his line of work at this hour, in this place. He knelt down next to her.
“When did you choose to be a preacher?” she asked. “Like in the ministry.”