the lost man chronicles

A Passage into Paradise

I’m writing this piece on the cardboard that separates the layers of votive candles.

Every morning, or late evening should I choose, I must go into the little chapel of the Little Church and replace the candles. There are usually 15 or so empty votives—this morning I replaced 50 though. It appears that a prankster has been stopping by to light the entire choir of candles without paying the 50 cents per wick. I left a message for Father Haynes and The Bishop—“Andrew”—to give them an update on the lighting spree that someone is having at the expense of the Episcopalian Order.

This was merely the second morning that I have been at this wonderful task of illuminating the little sanctuary and I am overjoyed by my great fortune. The whole process is serenely invigorating—for I feel as if I know what St. Peter must feel like, as he opens up the gates of heaven to let in the tired and life-worn souls who have earned their passage into paradise.

At the same time, I’m beginning to empathize more with the school janitors who have to carry about their jingling ring of keys, because as of yesterday I have added six more to my own set.

The first opens three doors—the giant iron door that leads into the back of the church near the alter, the swinging padded leather door between the church and the chapel, and the door to the vestibule where the switchboard for the chapel lights are. The second key opens up the sacristy, the prep room for the priest where he keeps his robes, his leather bound and finger worn copy of the holy book, and the registry of each days’ attendees—it is also where the closet is that stores the candles and it is also the notorious hideaway most often used in films to depict where altar boys are sacrificed by catholic priests. The third key opens the chapel door—you have to “push hard” to force it ajar. The fourth and final key opens the gold padlock on rusty steel chain which is wrapped around the wrought iron gates which open upon the church grounds and garden. The other two keys I was given four weeks ago or so where I began this beautiful venture—they are for the front door to the building where my little apartment resides—the building which is scheduled to be razed this summer—and to the tidy studio itself.

It was suggested that I code the keys, so I took subway sign stickers and enumerated each of them according to their order in the holy process of opening and alighting this glorious little sanctuary in the middle of this grimy and gritty metropolis. Keys 1,2, and 3 are now represented by the red metro line and keys 4,5, and 6 are the green line which passes by and under my office building on Park Avenue.

The utter joy of it all makes me feel divine—so fine this morning that I toasted my whimsy of sentimental glee with a small glass of red wine and a few tabs of dark chocolate for breakfast. The merlot made the horse pill of a multi-vitamin slide down so easily that I just might have to make it a morning ritual.

As a result I felt incredibly as I stepped out into the cold to walk two blocks this morning. Its uncanny how things work out when you reappraise and subsequently reorient unfortunate events to your advantage.

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