A Shout from God

Lily doesn’t consider herself religious, but when her mother’s illness overwhelms her, she goes to Holy Martyrs. They have the best music of all the churches in Toronto’s west end. None of that modern stuff; it’s traditional all the way. Tonight the organist plays Bach’s Fugue in G Minor, the torrent of notes cascading out of the loft like a shout from God.

Lily doesn’t believe in much that the church stands for anymore, but the liturgical music is so powerful that she vanishes inside it.

Her only other escape is physical. As her mother’s body breaks down, Lily builds hers up: weights, crunches, running. Yesterday one of the trainers at the gym took her aside: Lily, you’re overdoing it. Maybe you should see your doctor?

Lily goes to church instead.

It’s a Saturday mass on an evening too cold to snow. As the choir warms up, Lily tries to let the music overwhelm her, but tonight, even Bach isn’t working.

Earlier that day at the nursing home, Lily had spread out some family snapshots, portraits of clients, even a photograph from the Oka standoff that won her mother a photojournalism prize.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 6. Purchase the book to read the full piece.