The truth was, Alexander had been in jail a number of times due to drunken tavern brawls. He was never in jail for long; only until he woke up and proved himself able to return to his normal life. It always added to the immense shame in Alexander's heart, proving - once again - that he was a hopeless failure at all he did.
Because of his history, Alexander was extremely selective about whom he associated with. He never was in the company of religious people; no, surely God would punish him if he dared to spend any time with a religious person.
Yet Sunday morning was different. Alexander was on his way to Amara's home when the sound of a congregation singing hymns stopped him in his tracks. Something about the sound of such worshipful singing stirred a much-unknown peace within his heart. Hesitating, Alexander stood there for a moment, allowing the sound of tranquility to seep into his soul. He hadn't realized how much he missed the simple beauty of the singing.
There was something compelling about it all, but Alexander didn't recognize the hand of God for what it was. Something prompted Alexander's steps forward, though he didn't realize it was Divine Intervention. As he walked up the steps that led to the chapel, Alexander told himself he'd only stay for a bit. He would leave as soon as the singing stopped. God wouldn't want him in the church - he was already pressing his luck by going in to hear the songs.
Slipping inconspicuously into the back pew, Alexander seated himself next to what appeared to be grandparents and their grandson. Alexander leaned forward and closed his eyes, letting the music calm him.
"Are you new here?" Alexander heard the man next to him whisper.
Alexander nodded. "Well, new to church, anyways. Not to Hendrick."
"Well, it's good to have you here. Have you ever attended church before?"
Alexander sighed. "Honestly, it's been so long...I can't remember the last time. I'm only here for a bit, though. I have...work I have to attend to."
The somewhat elderly man held out his hand, and Alexander shook it tentatively. "I'm Clarence Rittman."
"Alexander Hale," Alexander responded. If Clarence recognized the name, he didn't show it, which brought no small amount of relief to Alexander's heart. "Do you come here every Sunday?"
Clarence nodded his head. "My wife, Marla, and I have been attending for the past dozen years or so. Before then, we didn't have anything to do with religion. But God got a hold of our hearts and turned us around completely." Clarence raised his eyebrows. "Say, if you ever want a place to go after Sunday services, you could always stop over for supper at our place. Marla and I enjoy having company."
"I appreciate it, but I'm afraid I won't be able to come to church often at all," Alexander said, offering no excuse. Truthfully, he couldn't come up with a good reason.
"Well, just know that our offer always stands if you need somewhere to be," Clarence said. Someone from a couple pews ahead looked back to see who was doing all the whispering, so the conversation was cut off there.
When Pastor Follows stood up to deliver his sermon, everyone got out their Bibles and opened to the specified passage. Alexander hadn't brought a Bible, so he simply sat. Something within him refused to leave the church. He couldn't explain why, but he knew he had to stay. Just this once.
"There are extra Bibles at the end of the pew," Clarence whispered.
It had been many, many years since Alexander had touched a Bible, and for a moment, he panicked. It was bad enough that he was inside a church; could he really touch a Bible? Wouldn't the action bring some terrible consequence down upon his head?
Slowly, slowly, Alexander reached out for the Bible.