didn’t notice our differences until we stood to sing the first hymn.
The head of the man seated next
to me—whose shoulders were in line with mine when we were seated—now
came up to my chin.
I slumped. If only I hadn’t worn
my peach heels to church I would have . . . still been six inches
taller than my most immediate neighbor in the pew.
I’m a tall woman. Five feet nine
inches. In my stocking feet. On carpet. Closer to five ten if you make
me stand on a hard floor. This is not some new revelation. I’ve been
this tall since the eighth grade. Sometimes a plus, but often a minus,
I’ve learned to tolerate being a tall woman in a short woman world.
As we started the second verse
of the hymn, I spotted a woman two pews up. She made me feel short as
she stood next to a man who—if he could dribble a basketball—would be a
first round draft pick in the NBA. I straightened my shoulders.
As the music of the organ and
our voices filled the room, I further inventoried the congregation. To
my right, a man sang with a lustrous bass voice, his jowls trembling
with his vibrato. A teen boy stretched the sleeves of his sweater over
his hands, his cropped, bleached hair and earring announced to the
world that his taste was eons away from mine. A couple behind me
jostled a wriggling toddler, their pleas to shush and be still reminded
me of the fractured joys of bringing my own little ones into the
sanctuary years before. An elderly woman with a flowered hat held the
hymnal close to her thick glasses, her shrill soprano soaking into the
We were all different: tall,
short, wide, thin, young, old. When we left the church, we’d travel
home in SUVs, pickup trucks, and Cadillacs. For Sunday dinner we’d eat
fried chicken, chow mein, nachos, and spaghetti. We’d spend the
afternoon golfing, reading mysteries, and practicing the drums. We’d go
to bed at nine, eleven, or two.
write. He teaches. She heals. Yet another builds.
married, he’s single, she’s
divorced, and the two at the end are both widowed.
Different. And yet the same.
For all of us made the same
choice that morning. We came to church. We stood side by side, the
height and strength of our shoulders forming a staggered stair step of
humanity. We sang together, flat and sharp, loud and soft. We bowed our
heads in prayer. The humble. The urgent. The confused. The wise.
We opened our hearts, united in
a common goal to know the One who made our differences, who understood
the whys of it—even if we did not. The One who died for all, not just
“In Christ we who are many form
one body . . .”
Our differences make us special,
just as our common goal to worship our Almighty, ever-loving God make