is tucked inside what appears to be a gym with a kitchen attached. One door in. One door out. One half the room is table and the other half instruments with a pulpit shoehorned in between.
The walls are covered with pictures, trees mostly, and some holy thoughts. Perhaps one day someone said “I know, let’s get the kids to paint the wall” and this is what they got. Yet its all pleasant in a well worn kind of way, like the house of an aunt who never made much money but was still your favorite.
I was to be the bassist in the praise band, using the time up front to practice for a later prison ministry gig, and because of work I arrived late while the service was in full swing. Quickly unpacking I found my place in the music and began to play. Three chords, lots of repeating, and tons of emotion. The sounds system was loud, so loud that I had trouble at first picking out my bass notes, but it was the volume of passion. While we Orthodox may occasionally mumble a few notes Pentecostals sing from the bottom of their shoes.
Songs done, a sermon was next in the order of business, a young lady skipping from passage to passage, thought to thought, using a whiteboard to help her along. Bibles were open and occasionally someone joined in with a question or comment. I listened, and remembered. This was me, some time ago, the music, the sermon, everything. It’s been a million miles down the road, of course, but I had not forgotten.
Yes, I am a different person now, Orthodox through and through. I was never a good Pentecostal even when I hung around with them. Too much noise. Too many things going on. I could never imagine going back to that world. I love the beautiful stillness and holy peace of Orthodoxy. Yet one thing remains. The love.
Whatever else was going on, good, bad, or otherwise, there was love. Love in the music. Love in a parish with its doors wide open to folks from the local Gospel Mission. Even a love for holy things that jumped from place to place with the sermon. Come in broken, disheveled, lonely, or not quite right for “polite” society and Whirlwind’s heart was ready to expand to fit anyone who walked in.
Whatever else we have we don’t often have that and in their own way Whirlwind may be more Orthodox than we could ever imagine, or be.