When I was a tween, my parent's church decided to build a new sanctuary. It seems the old building just didn't look like a sanctuary. And we were routinely filling the pews every week.
I may never understand people. The old building was a very rectangular and unimpressive building. But we worshiped there week after week and it never seemed to matter what the building looked like; in fact, I think that may have been part of the charm. Sure, some visitors might have been put off but anyone who came back certainly felt the Spirit. All inside a cinder block building, painted a wretched pastel green with blue trim and blue-green pile carpet squares to tie it all together. I thought it was grand.
The new sanctuary was a massive undertaking. The octagonal shape was filled with stark white trim, rich red carpets, dark wood pews, red cushions, a gigantic brass chandelier and stained glass windows on both levels. A balcony wrapped around three-quarters of the interior and the choir loft could easily hold 150 singers and a grand piano.
Being one of the last to leave some nights (see my previous post), I had many opportunities to freely roam the new building (as well as the old buildings). Sometimes I was asked to shut off the lights and lock the doors as everyone else left.
One night, my mother was staying late with some of the other church ladies to work on a reception later in the week. At first, it was fun. I could move around without supervision, indefinitely as long as I stayed out of trouble...
I was getting bored, being all alone except for the ladies who were decorating the Reception Hall. Although I might have helped them, I would rather wander around and see what the building was like at night. I was surprised to find the sanctuary doors unlocked. I walked down the hallway. Only the light from the Exit signs provided illumination. As I neared the doors into the main sanctuary, I instinctively slowed. Even though I should have been all alone, something didn't feel right. I opened the door, allowing some of the ambient Exit light into the massive room. Lights appeared to rise up from the floor and circle the top of the chandelier, near the ceiling, before dissipating. I tried to pass it off as headlights from passing cars shining through the stained glass windows but.. if that were the case, the lights would have gone off at strange angles, not circle at the roof. Plus, as cars passed the building, none of the headlights were hitting the stained glass with enough strength to appear to be a ball of light moving through the air.
I still do not know what I saw, what caused it, what caused the lights to dissipate, where they went.. In my imagination, I thought they were angels and demons, locked in eternal struggle, chasing each other through the world, through the ages. It seemed to fit, at the time. In retrospect, I suspect it was nothing to grandiose.