Our family sat on the left Gospel side of the Episcopal church, third row from the front. I tried to keep my back straight up and my posture righteous, because old people needed to rest their butts. I sat beside my grandpa when he visited from Los Angeles, , staring at his left hand with a missing thumbnail resting on top of the pew rail. He’d lost half of his thumb in a sawing accident, so weird. He stood tall, with his hymnal open, singing baritone with all his heart, perhaps recalling his minister dad back in Minnesota when he was a kid, and then growing up to be a deacon in Washington D.C. when his daughters were small and he went with my mom up to New York for all of her operations after she was burned=
My grandpa filled up with strength, surrounded with lush purple energy and blues mixed with gold hills of Tiburon, and the grey of Richardson Bay. I sensed his personal conviction that God was good and loving service to his family and friends made life worth living. He was a good man and his happy heart showed.
My mother kneeled during church prayers, resting her rump on the pew. My mom whispered her hymns, and kept pace with what was going on, but didn’t seem as committed as her dad.
I still go to church and sit in the same spot. Familiarity and common prayer calm me down. The family tradition still matters.