He so enjoyed their walks.
The boy held his father’s hand as they traveled from street to street, taking in every color, every sound, every scent of the new day.
As they walked together, the boy loved to look at the people as they passed by; so very different, so not at all the same.
They were beautiful and sweet and strange and sometimes even scary.
Whenever they happened upon someone, whether the boy thought they were beautiful or sweet or strange or scary, his father would always look them in the eyes, smile and say something nice to them.
Sometimes the people would smile back.
Sometimes they look surprised.
Sometimes they looked away quickly.
And on this particular morning, the boy finally turned to his father and asked, “Why do you do that, Father? Why do you greet everyone in the street with a smile and something nice to say?”
Everyone needs to be seen” his father told him, “to be seen and to know that they matter.”
This pleased the boy. He thought that sounded very nice. He secretly wondered whether people thought he was beautiful or sweet or strange or scary.
That day, as they passed row after row of buildings that all looked rather the same, they came across one that was quite different from all the others.
It stood out because its doors were much bigger than the doors on the other buildings in the town; so big in fact, that they reached from the ground, far higher than the boy could even see, and so wide that their hinges on either side weren’t even visible to the left and to the right.
“What is this place, Father?”, the boy asked, still marveling at the great doors stretching into the clouds.
The father replied, “This, my son, is The Church That Will Be.”
The boy looked again to the strange building and wondered out loud, “Why are its doors so big?”
He smiled at his son and said, “The Church That Will Be, must be the building with the biggest doors, because it needs enough space to welcome the whole world. It’s designed so that all people can come in and feel at home; all the beautiful and sweet and strange and yes, even the scary people.
So it needs doors big enough for the world to enter.”
“In fact”, he said, “if you look closely, you will find that every person you meet, deep down is equally beautiful and sweet and strange and scary. The Church That Will Be is a place for all of them.”
As he listened to his father speak, the boy’s eyes grew wide and his heart began to beat faster and faster, “Let’s go in!”, he shouted excitedly. “Better still, let’s open these great big doors, and tell all the beautiful, sweet, strange, and scary people passing by that they are welcome and to come inside and we’ll all have a party.”
“That sounds wonderful son, but we can’t do that quite yet,” the father said. “This is The Church That Will Be. It is not yet finished. It is not altogether ready.”
The boy felt a sadness in his heart, upon hearing his father’s words. He was so looking forward to seeing those massive doors swing open, and to telling everyone that passed by that they were welcome to come in, just as they were; beautiful and sweet and strange and scary.
“When will The Church That Will Be, be ready?” the boy asked.
“I’m not sure”, his father answered. “I was hoping it would be ready long ago. It’s been taking much longer than I’d like.”
They continued walking together.
As they passed more and more rows of buildings that all looked rather the same, they came across another that was quite different, too. Only this one had doors much smaller than all the rest; oddly small, in fact. Its tiny doors were heavily bolted and locked, with chains wrapped all around.
A very serious looking man, stood in front of the building, guarding the small doors and nearly blocking them from view.
As they stepped closer, the boy noticed a fancy sign on the small doors that read: BEAUTIFUL AND SWEET PEOPLE ARE WELCOME HERE. STRANGE AND SCARY PEOPLE ARE NOT.
The boy once again felt sadness in his heart. He wondered how they decided who was beautiful and sweet, and who was strange and scary.
He felt bad for those chosen as strange and scary people, the boys and girls who might walk up to this building, read the sign, see the very serious looking man and the small bolted and locked doors, and know they are not welcomed there.
He worried they would never feel seen and never know that they mattered.
“Father, the boy asked, “what is this building with the fancy sign and the serious-faced man and the very small, locked, guarded doors?”
The father looked at the boy sadly, and said, “This, my son? This building, with the fancy sign and the serious-faced man and the small, bolted and locked and guarded doors?
This is The Church That Is.”
That day, the boy decided that he was going to become a builder.
He looked at his father and said, “The Church That Is, isn’t good enough. Its doors are not at all big enough. I’m going back to help build The Church That Will Be.
We’re going to finish that building with the biggest doors, and then we’re going to swing them wide open and tell all the people that pass by; all the equally beautiful, and sweet, and strange, and scary people, that they’re all welcome!”
The boy’s father looked and him, smiled a smile as wide as those doors and said, “My son, I can’t wait to see it.”