Confessions, part 4

I now know that 10:30 am on a Sunday morning is one of the busiest times at the Harvard street entrance of All Souls - people arriving for services, exchanging greetings, rushing to finish last minute church duties. But I swear, on that particular Sunday morning at that moment, there was no one else at that entrance. No others to hide behind, to fade into anonymity. Just me at the bottom of the small steps and the good Rev. Hardies at the top. "Hello," he said, "would you like to come in?" I told him that I would prefer to use the main entrance at the front of the church and casually kept on walking.

It was a lie. What I was really thinking was, "You don't have to go into this church. Just keep on walking straight ahead, don't turn. He won't be able to see you. Just keep walking straight, cross 16th street, go to Adams Morgan, grab a Starbucks mocha. That's a good way to spend a Sunday morning. You don't have to turn."

I didn't have to turn of course, but I did. When I was a biologist, one of the things I studied was how an animal makes a choice. Why turn left and not right? Which neurons were activated? I don't know what my brain cells were doing that moment but as far as my mind was concerned, curiosity got the better or me. I told myself that I'd just take a little peek inside the sanctuary and then decide. Most likely I would not go in, I told myself. 10:30 am on a Sunday morning is when everyone is arriving for services, but again, it seemed like there was no one to hide behind as I walked up the front steps and saw Rev. Shana Goodwin, also in robe and stole. (Damn, there's two of them. They tricked me!) Once again I was asked if I would like to come in and this time, seeing no other options without being rude or ridiculous, I did.

I don't understand the miracle of choice. Nine times out of ten, when presented with a certain situation, a person will act predictably. Given what you know of the person, you should be able to predict what he or she will do. Knowing myself, I should have gone straight across 16th street. But that one time out of ten, or one out of a hundred, or more, a person will do the unexpected. I turned the corner and went into the church with the steeple and ministers in black robes that Sunday morning. Knowing myself, I am quite certain that if I hadn't gone in that day I would not have in a hundred Sundays or more.

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