Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

Free pass to Heaven

Free pass to Heaven

Photo by https://flic'kr/p/9a2srg

Jane and I got free passes to heaven in the winter of 1998.

We moved to Boston the previous fall. Janes mom and step-dad were living in Cambridge where he was associate rector of the Harvard Memorial Church. The rector was Peter J. Gomes.

I first met Rev. Gomes one night outside of his house. Jane was still in Portland and I was staying at my in-law’s apartment in Cambridge.

Parking was a nightmare. If I was lucky, I found a spot in the evening that didn’t start charging until 7:30am. Sometimes I managed to get up in time to put money in the meter before I went to work. Sometimes I paid a steep parking ticket.

I knew it was bound to happen but it took a couple of weeks before I came home one evening and couldn’t find a space at all. Jane’s step-dad had told me that, in an emergency, I could park in the driveway at the rector’s house. I’d hoped to avoid it but, that night, I had no choice.

It was dark when I pulled into the driveway. I got out, locked the door and started to walk away when I heard a voice out of the darkness.

β€œExcuse me. What are you doing?”, Rev Gomes called out from the balcony of his house. Even in an awkward social situation, the man had an amazing voice.

I stammered through a explanation. He was confused but kind and allowed me to leave my car. I never parked there again.

Christmas was on a Fri that year. There were maybe a dozen people when we went to Sunday services at Harvard Memorial with Jane’s family.

Rev Gomes climbed up to the pulpit, surveyed the empty pews and proclaimed that everyone there that day got a free pass to heaven. Only the most faithful came out for the Sunday after Christmas.