In the cool, cool, cool

The air conditioning’s been on the fritz at our church.
Since early summer, wide open doors, front and back, on Sunday mornings have been the the telltale sign that it had yet to be fixed. Wide open doors followed by heaving sighs from church-goers exiting their cars and reluctantly making their way across the parking lot.
Church bulletins quickly became fans at every service.
Now, I’m sure I am in the minority, but the lack of air conditioning had not bothered me all that much. I’d say to my wife I distinctly remember beads of perspiration rolling down the middle of my back at summer masses back when precious few churches were air conditioned. And, lo and behold, we survived.
Those were the days when more than one priest limited his homily to something like, “If you think this is hot, imagine what it’s like in hell?”
We got the message.
I recall one time being in a hot church while on vacation and the celebrant saying, “I have three sermons ready. The one dollar sermon lasts 30 minutes. The five dollar sermon lasts 20 minutes. And the ten dollar sermon lasts a minute and a half. We will pass the basket before I begin.”
My willingness to disregard the heat and strain to hear the priest over the roar of loud, and pretty much ineffective, fans aside, I was filled with trepidation as we got in the car last Sunday morning with temperatures already in the 80s and headed to the 90s. This would be a challenge, even for me.
But what was this? Were the church doors really closed?
They were. And on each hung a quickly printed sign announcing Sunday’s masses would be celebrated in the parish hall. The AIR CONDITIONED parish hall.
What a difference. And not just because of the cool comfort.
The banquet chairs in the hall were arranged in somewhat of a semi-circle around the makeshift altar. The organist was up front, not hidden in a rear balcony. And the best part was, the priest, the celebrant, was close to us. Not only could we hear him better, but also we could see every inflection in his kindly face. Seated in the nave of the church, it was hard to tell he had any face at all.
Judging by the smiles all around and the jovial chit chat as we exited after mass, I feel comfortable in saying everyone at that service felt the same thing I did. We found a sweet surprise in the cool comfort. We found warmth.
More warmth than we’d felt all summer in the hot church next door.
And that was cool.

Ed Ackerman