When I was little my mom used to take me with her to Perpetual Adoration. It’s this Catholic thing where you sit in a chapel for an hour, staring at a piece of bread in a glass case. Okay, so it isn’t any old bread, it’s a host wafer, which has supposedly been transformed into the Body of Christ. They light a candle that needs to stay lit forever to symbolize something. “Adoration” means that somebody’s gotta sit in there with it, praying to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and making sure the candle doesn’t go out or whatever. There’s always gotta be someone in there, and that’s the “perpetual” part. They give the job to people of the parish, rotating them out every hour.
Mom would take me with her sometimes, probably cuz she thought I needed to be tortured by the silence and the nothingness of sitting in a room with God stuff everywhere reminding me to be on my best behavior. Well, she underestimated the power of my imagination. And then there was that one time when I almost burnt the place down.
It had started out innocent enough. She let me do pretty much anything I wanted in there, as long as I stayed quiet and mostly still. I was allowed to walk over to the bookcase to collect a prayer book or a rosary, and could even sometimes nap. I was really good at napping with my eyes closed in thoughtful prayer. One of the tricks you learn at Catholic school.
So anyway, I’d been sitting there daydreaming about dinosaurs—not big ones, mini ones that were rampaging across the top of my kneeler. The carnivores were bearing down on the herbivores, a small herd of long-necked ones. The long-necks were running as fast as their stubby legs would take them, but the velociraptors were too quick! One velociraptor made a mighty leap, taking down its prey, and together they toppled off the top of the kneeler into the raging river below. It was flowing towards the back of the room, where the bookshelf was. I chased them—I didn’t want to miss this! Although so as not to alert Mom to the excitement, I pretended to peruse the pamphlets while the battle raged on.
There were a few candles sitting around the bookshelf, and also a pack of dinosaurs grazing around their bases. They thought they were safe, but no! Volcanic eruption! The lava was pouring down the sides of the mountain, enveloping all creatures in its path…
My hands had gotten a bit sticky from the wax. Okay, they were covered in wax. I held them over the flame to try and melt it off, but was not expecting the Band-Aid I had on my finger to catch on fire. I shook my hand so as to save myself from sudden, flamey death, then watched in horror as the still-burning ball of wax and bandage sailed through the air and landed on the seat next to my mother. I stood there speechless as the fire caught, unable to shout or warn Mom because we were supposed to stay completely silent in the chapel. I decided to wait until she noticed.
Luckily Mom had really good reflexes and knew where the fire extinguisher was (and how to use it!) She never brought me to Perpetual Adoration again, but I like to imagine that the dinosaurs are still there, roaming the furniture and keeping a watchful eye out for flaming meteors.
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