Robert woke feeling stiff as hell. The pew he’d slept on was completely uneven, the wood’s hard knots seeming to have made holes in his back. Good old English oak. He imagined generations of worshipers shifting uncomfortably through the dreary hours of the Eucharist. Stretching irreverently, Robert walked up the aisle toward the altar. “Good Lord, what a morning!” he said mockingly, pausing in what little sunlight penetrated the narrow windows of the chancel. What a grim building. If a bright September day cast no more than an amber half-light into the church it must be murder in winter – like congregating in a bottomless well. Glancing up into the heights of the nave the well metaphor seemed even more appropiate, damp walls receding to a small oval window high over the altar.
Robert turned on his heel, the rubber squeaking on the marble floor. Thick, buttressed walls hemmed in the narrow nave – rather than a place of space and light, the Church inspired thoughts of containment, isolation, claustrophobia. Faith was enormous in a place like this – to aspire to something infinite whilst locked and bound in such a dour edifice – like banging your head against a celestial ceiling of solid concrete. With an odd sense of guilt Robert picked up his rucksack and the remains of last night’s dinner. He rubbed a small chocolate smudge on the prayer stool he’d used as a pillow.