The building stood empty and dark. Here and there, a window was broken, a jagged hole left as evidence of a rock, hurled by a strong arm, powered by passion and malice. All around the building, rocks, shattered glass, broken boards, nails and debris lay as evidence of dastardly deeds. The doors were all locked, some with chains and bars. It was evident that no one had used the building for some time.
On this particular morning, a small crowd of people stood out front. In the dim grey light oozing from an early morning cloud covered sky, one could see the people, coagulated into small groups. Two or three standing together here, four there, perhaps as many as six or eight in one group off to the side, like puddles of people on a rain drenched parking lot.
Near the center of the lose crowd, a clump of a dozen or more people mingled about. The group included several men, women, and even two or three children skittering around the edge of the tightly bunched adults. They stood near the front door of the building, staring at it, while whispering quietly to each other. Every now and then, someone would chance a quick glance at one of the other small groups, and then lock their eyes back on the front door while whispering a word or two to the person standing next to them.
“I loved this place.”
“How did it come to this?”
“I don’t understand.”
“They shouldn’t have let this happen.”
“We should have stopped them.”
“I knew this would happen if we let them have their way.”
“What are we going to do now?”
“It’s their fault, let them figure it out.”
“I told them what they should do.”
“They should have listened to us.”
If one were to move through the crowd, the same whispers would be heard in every group. Different people, with different lips, uttered the consistent message of a common spirit.
Suddenly, a rock came crashing through a window and landed at the feet of a clump of people to the right. The whispering stopped for a few moments, then resumed. More windows began to shatter. Here and there, nails began to slip from their place, creaking and shrieking as if in agony, losing their grip on the old boards they had held together for many years. Bricks and boards began to fall away. The building was coming apart but the whispering didn’t stop now. Instead, it became a drone of human noise, demanding to be heard over the sounds of the dying building.
As the noise and intensity increased, parts of the building disappeared. The glass broke into ever finer pieces until it was nothing more than grains of sand, blown by the wind on a journey to the coast. Bricks crumbled like clods of dirt in a hot dry corn field. The roof shingles lost their grip. Degrading into a gooey mess of oil and gravel, they dripped from what was left of the rafters and sunk back into the ground from which they came. The wood crumbled, rotting into small piles of dust which quickly dispersed.
The pace of the disintegration quickened. The noise increased as the building flew apart. People were shouting now. Quick glances had turned to ugly stares and finger pointing. It was all over in a few moments.
The final bits of the building were vanishing. The crowd began to dissipate as well. The people got in their cars and drove away. Pulling out of the driveway and going their separate ways, they each tuned their radio to their favorite station. This Sunday, they would be listening to their favorite preacher on the radio. They all tuned to the same message, but even in their cars, the whispers continued and no one heard. The preacher read from 1st Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind . . . does not seek its own . . . does not take into account a wrong suffered . . . bears all things . . . never fails . . .”
When the last car pulled out of the parking lot, it passed a sign at the end of the driveway. Next to the sign, a large wooden cross remained firmly planted in the ground. As the driver sped away, the sign for “Bride of Christ Christian Church” disintegrated, leaving only the cross. The cross beam began to sag a little, as if it were bearing the weight of an enormous burden. A small drop of water fell from the top corner of the cross. Like a single tear, it gently streamed to the ground. But the driver of the car didn’t even notice. He was too busy whispering to the other passengers in the car, and tuning his radio to a message he would not hear.