Every morning, he greeted the dawn, sitting on a solitary rock in the bay.

When he was a small boy, the water had never come so far inland. Now, even at low tide, the only way to the church in the bay was by boat.

He remembered walking to church on Sunday mornings, the footpath weaving its way down the slope and then back up. He and his brother would spread their arms and “fly” down the hill, and then pretend to forge a mountain on the upslope of the path. Their mother good-naturedly tolerated the tomfoolery, knowing that her boys needed to expend the energy prior to being expected to be silent and still through the Sunday service.

Then came the week when they discovered that water hadn’t all receded with the tide. It pooled in the lowest area, forming a little brook, which they were at first able to step across easily.

By the next week, they had to jump.

Soon enough it was too wide to get across without getting their feet wet, and their mother started asking around, trying to plan another route to get to their Sunday services.

Over the weeks, the water had continued to rise, until the church, built atop a rise, was alone in the bay, with no land route to get there. It had once had a basement, but no one could use it now; it was full of the sea.

The water leveled off, finally, and at high tide it is barely possible to get to the little church’s doors. Low tide leaves some of the churchyard exposed, but the water has destroyed the grass and paving.

For a while, people had insisted on taking rowboats or pontoons across and attending church services as usual. They built docking stations to tie up the watercraft, only to see them destroyed repeatedly by the water and the elements.

Services came to an abrupt end when Pastor Johnston fell through the floorboards and drown in the basement while ringing the bells that last Sunday.

He and his mother and brother were there when the deacon made the gruesome discovery.

Every morning thereafter, the morning bells rang just after sunrise. The bells had always been rung by hand. There was no electricity, but lights were often seen from shore.

His mother declared the place haunted and found another house of worship, one on dry land.

Years have gone by. He comes now each day, hails the sunrise and pays his respects to the Pastor, who waves from the doorway of the church before retreating inside to ring morning bells.

4 thoughts on “Respect

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