The minister intoned ‘tis more blessed to give than to receive’ and the collection plate was passed from pew to pew, some checks placed face up and unfolded, for all to see the largesse, though most checks and cash were discreetly folded, more modestly placed. The plate clinked with unclutched coins from children who were rewarded with approving nods and smiles from their parents and the parishioners. This was a time in the service when a certain amount of surreptitious stretching and surmising happened, necks turning and eyes following the plate as it filled up, moving hand to hand then to the pew behind.
So the pause was noticeable when a slight, scruffy person, sitting at the end of a pew, head bowed, did not look up, did not deposit an offering, did not take the plate that was held out to him. After an awkward moment, the plate was handed to the person in the pew behind the stranger, whose fervent focus was disconcerting to a congregation that did not recognize him.
But later some would remark on the play of light when the collection plate had been passed behind the stranger, how the refracted sunlight that glanced off the plate shone over his bowed head, illuminating him, appearing for all the world like a halo.
A six sentence story written for Unchartered Life under the Radar cue word “plate”.