The Little Church

by Samuel Thomas

A solitary bell swings

in a tower on a church roof.

The white rooster’s red eye

watches the people pass through.

The tiny blue and white steeple

like a Greek villa transplanted

from Mediterranean shores

or colors lifted from a Quebec flag

holds her weight this Sunday morning.

Saint Raphael,

patron saint of happy meetings

guards the little church

under his folded white wings

and one of the priest’s dogs,

Raphie, moves gingerly

at the back of the church

appeasing ecclesiastic hearts.

A lady with a long overcoat

and un-kept hair shyly

shuffles past the front altar

to slip a coin in a box

lighting a candle for ‘Our Lady.’

The already small space

that is the church’s hall of prayer

becomes smaller still

when during Communion,

a soulful songstress enchants

through hallowed notes.

St. Raphael’s heart beats strong.

Its doors welcome

the weary and wandering

Pride spreads its smile

on the diversity

of its people.

The ‘Our Father’ is recited

by a small village of voices—

Dutch, Swahili, Cree, French, German

Spanish, English and more.

As the people sit and kneel,

the pews let out a creak,

the pictures of Jesus on the wall

seem ready to speak,

whispering words of perseverance.

Pages from a liturgy book

that once lay unbound

from time and use

are carefully taped together again.

St. Raphael’s Church moves

to its own beat,

providing sustenance to the poor

offering sanctuary to the fearful

and sharing spirit

with the forlorn.

A little church that has

withstood storm after storm.

A humble home

under the gaze of an angel

where song and prayer lingers

long after the organ

has stopped playing.

The Little Church (Part Two)

by Samuel Thomas

The Bishop’s shirt hangs on the clothes line

A few loose nails stick out from the pews

It’s another Sunday morning

The little Church holds its breath

As parishioners open its

Wooden front doors.

The Priests have side jobs here,

No stipends from higher ranks,

A breakaway Church with more

Heart and character

Than the regal Cathedral


Everything has its place

In this small house of


The busy walls of crosses,

The Jesus portraits, the plastic

Altar flowers, the candles,

The incense, even the

Cold air that seeps

Through the cracks.

Everyone is welcome too,

Of all colors and faiths,

Of all ages and backgrounds,

During the sermon, lines around

The Bishop’s eyes speak of

The struggles he’s fought

To spare his Church

His sanity

His parish.

From a boisterous laugh

To notes of stern rebuke

His presence fills the room,

Always final words of

Encouragement to be

Charitable, loving and true

A meekness of his Saviour

Filtering through

And as the singing peaks

And the hymn lifts up their hearts

Standing by the front door

With staff and smile,

The Bishop and the Priests

Kiss them on their way

To do good deeds.

A former customs official

With mixed ancestry

His deep caroling voice

His searching eyes, his

Broad chest,

As if to say:

Remember, I built this Church

On a rock. Like my body, this

Church was planted with blood

And nails – the same nails

That holds this Church together,

Holds my frame together.

The little Church is quiet.

The organ has stopped playing.

The shirt is sun-dried.

Blue paint peels at the front door.

A handful of nails lie

On the front steps.