It looked like one of those city blocks you ride by in midwestern towns with the priests’ rectory on one corner and the grade school on the other, and the single-spire church between them. In the afternoon the church is empty except for a member of the Women’s Society who has cleansed the altar chalices and changed the water in the holy water fonts and wiped the wax off the chapel candles. The woman is sitting in a pew beneath the choir loft and has taken off the gloves she wears to clean and slipped off her shoes. She listens as the courthouse bell, a block away, strikes three times, then she listens to the voices of young children passing the front of the church, and when their laughter has faded away, she remembers the passage she had read that morning as lector; and she catalogs the tasks she has yet to complete before that night’s Lenten service. But then her mind stills, and for a moment, the memory of the morning and the anticipation of the evening are quieted by the silence of the church, and the woman closes her eyes and sits without moving as the afternoon light filters through the stained glass windows.