by Lawrence J. J. Leonard
I remember the Parish Hall at St. Philip Neri Church.
It either smelled like a warehouse filled with steel chairs
or it smelled like brown bags filled with sandwiches and Fritos.
I had only ever been inside it during school lunch time.
We did have a couple of assemblies there after class
but we were not big enough in third grade to put the chairs atop the tables.
One afternoon my father said we were going to a meeting at church.
It turned out to be mass first, and then a meeting
which was to be held in the Parish Hall.
The moment dad opened the hall door a curious wave covered me.
I had never known such a large space would ever contain
the smell of brewed coffee coming from just two coffee urns.
We were transported to another dimension.
This place of swishy shoe sounds, the rumble of tables and chairs
being moved around to fit the mobile stage.
Until now the muted clouds of Old Spice and Brut from the men,
with the restricted cloying scents of lilac and floral powder
almost every woman wore under their brightly colored frocks.
The Holy Spirit may be above us, and Jesus be near us when
two or three gather in his name, while God the Father
may be the all-powerful deity of ancient Israel.
But it was coffee that was everywhere, all at once.
This is what is was to be omni-present.
Aha! I understood how it could be possible. He was hot coffee.
No other food or soup or snack could do this.
Not even the oil & gas plants in Pasadena could overpower the nature,
the essence of hot coffee from the bubbling urns.
Most people back then got their portion in a waxed paper cup
not realizing how lucky they were to hold liquid power
which made that simple Parish Hall smell like heaven.
Copyright © 1960-2015 Lawrence J. J. Leonard All rights reserved