The road traveled to the church from the funeral home - where a short open-casket viewing of my uncle took place - still reminded me of why I had been filled with so much disbelief and hatred towards others. As the line of cars slowly wound through a small town with many entrances and exits of too many pointless shops, cars would quickly weave in and out of what should have been a respected procession of mourners. It seemed for each block that was travelled, the audacity of the uninnocent onlookers grew; a rudeness that was infuriating me at every turn. Even though all of this seemed so aggrevating, the final moments before we pulled into the church parking lot clarified what I knew was true. The world was filled with vanity and selfishness. The reminder of this was a glowing sign on a building of a tanning salon, just thirty feet from the sacred walls of the church.
On the path to the open doors of the church, I could feel the warm sun on my back. It was a cold December morning, just before a snow, and the wind was blowing - like the howling of a wolf - around me. Though, for me, I could hardly feel it; for the warm bodies of my family were surrounding me in a close suffering shuffle towards the gaping and inviting double doors. Through the quiet scraping of shoes and the muffled tears of sorrow, I could hear the knell of the church bells echoing around me. As my body entered the buidling of emence walls of stained glass, a mild change in volume of the conversation startled me to raise my eyes to an open-armed statue of the Virgin Mary; Joseph next to her, and a glowing stained glass portrait of who, I was always told, was my savior. From there he stared down upon me with a crown of thorns, his bloodied hands and feet, dripping amid the coarse surfaces of driven nails.
The priest stood before us and began his teachings from the book. I'd heard them so many times that I could absent mindedly listen and respond on queue without any of my own notable loss of devotion by those around me; I fooled them and myself - it's amazing what a great deal of repetition can do. To the echo of the droaning group, I could see flocks of birds shadowed on the windows of more stained glass. Each flock drifting by so quickly in search of food, or shelter from this day.
It was odd to me, when the preacher began his homily. Not that I hadn't expected it at that very moment in the process of this mass, but that his subject seemed almost haunting. He began: "I want to talk about the birds. Do you ever just notice the birds on any given day?" I had thought to myself: yes, of course I do. My eyes became more transfixed on the alter and pulpit, where the preist stood continuing his words of individual wisdom. Though, my ears had closed and my mind had wandered, I knew what he was going to say; I knew it all.
In this oblivion of self-awareness, I could hear my thoughts echoing through my mind; just as the echos of the preist's voice filled the hollow tall spaces of the church. Each consonant, each vowel, and each breath slowly found its way from one surface to the next until they slowly filtered through my ears. I heard these words, ever-so vacantly. My eyes would turn, from time to time, to the stained glass, looking for more birds. Almost faithfully to my desires would I see other small groups, or perhaps one lone scavenger. It was almost as if my uncle was peering into my mind - from beyond - and granting my wish to see more.
More of the surmon would pass without my attention. It was not as though I didn't care, but I wanted so badly to feel. So badly to be part of a faith again. Be part of something in which I'd been participating from the time of my baptism until now, but for half-a-life ago had abandoned when I'd heard the news of Angel's suicide. It was at this moment that I remembered what the preist had said prior to entering towards the rows of wooden pews and marble columns of the church; In baptism my uncle Dante had died and been resurrected to a new life. Maybe that was the key for which I'd been searching so long... Resurrection; to be reborn.