Just a Brick by Kim Lengling
Years ago, I found myself sporadically attending church. I did not consider myself a Christian. I found it impossible to consider myself one who would attend church with the weight of trauma I carried.
In hindsight, I know now that I was seeking something but had no idea what “it” was at the time. I didn’t understand much of what I heard when I would attend. The sermons and stories were confusing, and I would leave feeling frustrated and even angry, carrying a chip on my shoulder. I know this was no one’s fault but my own; I see that now, but back then? Goodness, I’d ask myself why I was wasting time attending.
The windows were my favorite part of “church” at that time. Not the pastor, the people, or the sermons; the windows.
As the sun streamed through, dust-filled rays would dance across the pews. I could feel something. I wondered if anyone else could feel the emotions as if they rode upon the dust-filled rays. Was I the only one who noticed and was comforted by this?
One morning, I received a call with the first words being said, “Our church burned down!”
Confused, I thought, what church? I didn’t have a church. I attended a small church occasionally, but it wasn’t “my” church.
Later that day, I felt an urge to drive to see the remains of this church that I did not consider my own.
The area around the church was encircled with bright yellow caution tape, and smoke filtered through the rubble. I exited my car and slowly walked toward the remains of what used to be a church.
Something stirred within me as I stood staring at the smoking pile of bricks. A hint of sadness began to seep through.
I didn’t understand why I was sad. It wasn’t really “my” church. It was a building that had always been there. I later learned that this small church had been a part of the community for 150 years.
I remember riding my bicycle past this church when I was younger. I remember walking by it hundreds of times and attending the occasional service there, but not often enough to consider it “my” church.
As I looked at the smoky mess, my thoughts became still. Then, without thinking about it, I crawled under the caution tape and walked through the rubble to look closer at the bricks.
My eyes land on one, lying at an angle, partially buried under soot and grime. I reach down, pick it up and hold it in my hand. It was still warm to the touch and smelled heavily of smoke.
Tucking the brick under my arm, I crawl under the caution tape, return to my car and drive home. I don’t recall any thoughts of that drive, just the scenery as I went and the smoky smell of the brick.
Once home, I lay the brick beside the bottom step of my back porch. I plan to leave it out for a day or two to avoid bringing the smell into my house.
Some days later, I had someone visit, and they asked, “What’s with the brick by your step?”
“Oh, that’s from my church that burned down a few weeks ago.” Later, I realized I had said “My church,” and it hadn’t felt awkward or strange.
Now, years later, that brick still sits by my bottom step. It has weathered each season that has come over the years. In Winter, the brick becomes buried in snow, and I will hit it when I shovel and have to put it back in place.
When Spring arrives, I’ll tuck it back into place after each rain. During Summer, I’ll run into it with my weed eater or push mower and have to put it back in place. Finally, fall will come, and it will have shifted yet again from being out in the elements. I will again tuck it back into place beside the bottom step.
Why take such care? After all, it’s just a brick from a small-town church that burned down years ago.
It is funny how your mindset changes when you let God into your life. For several years, that one brick was, in fact, just a brick from a small church that burned down.
There is a new church now, built by those who loved the old one.
I began attending the “new” church each Sunday, was baptized, and became a member of the “new” church.
The people of that church have become a part of my family and me of theirs. I have become one who sings out loud with my hands in the air. I’ve laughed and cried in my church, felt lost and afraid, and ultimately was found and filled with joy in my church. So I finally get what “that guy up front” is talking about now.
Now that brick? It may be just a brick to some who see it sitting near the bottom step that leads into my house. But, if you were to ask me about it. I’d share the story of a small-town church with beautiful stained-glass windows and how the sun’s rays filtered through them to create a unique visual and emotional experience.
I’ll share that the church burned to the ground, and a woman, searching for some answers, visited the rubble, picked up a brick, and brought it home.
Some may see just a brick. But, I know that brick is a stepping stone to finding my faith and becoming part of a family. Finding peace, knowing I have received grace, am loved by God, and above all, found hope.
Have you been searching for something? Be patient; hope may be just around the corner from where you live, or as it was for me, found in the burnt rubble of a small-town church.
About the Author…
Sharing her faith, nature, love of rescue animals, and as a veteran living with PTSD, Kim Lengling has been writing since 2004. She has been featured as a co-author in seven anthologies, is the lead author and coordinator of a collaborative 3-book faith-based series titled When Grace Found Me, the host of the podcast Let Fear Bounce, host of The Write Stuff, The Author’s Voice TV Show with the Believe In Your Dreams TV Network and a co-host of a weekly radio show, Voices4Vets. Visit Kim’s website here. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The Christian Authors Network Speak Up Competition
The Speak Up Competition, sponsored by the Christian Authors Network, is a powerful source of hope and light for people all over the world. This year’s theme, “Expect the Impossible,” is a reminder that no matter how dark our situations may look, we always have hope because we know that all things are possible with God! The inspirational messages featured in this series are from the round one finalists. Stay tuned for updates as the competition progresses, and please pray with us that God will use this competition to bless and encourage His people. We know that the speak up community has the power to make a difference in this world, and we can’t wait to see what God does through us!