My bottom was already numb, and my skinny shoulder blades ached against the hard wooden pew where weekly as a child I sat obediently a few rows back on the left-hand side of the church with my family. Mostly I spent a lot of time staring at the stack of big black hymn numbers on the hanging board beside the choir, and a favorite pastime was adding up its digits and checking if that number was divisible by three. So adding “475” (4+7+5) and “438” (4+3+8) and “1,” (which I knew by heart to be “Victory in Jesus” and “He Lives” and “Holy, Holy, Holy,”), was 32, and 3+2 adds up to 5, so not divisible by three this time.
But one particular Sunday a strange minister got up, strange because I’d never seen him before, and said something that landed in my soul like a glowing ember. . . . [see more]