For about five weeks, she’d sat behind a little old man during evening mass. Her eyes always strayed to the back of his head during the homily. She’d grown up without a father, and had never set eyes on either grandfather. She wondered, abstractly, what it would be like to have this one as her dad, or grandad. His age was indeterminate; there was a full cap of white hair on his head, but he was still strong and moved upright without any difficulties.
She wasn’t really one to make friends in church. She came to listen, to feel, to pray, to cry, and hopefully to walk out with something that would make her a better human being. She didn’t know who he was, and he definitely didn’t know her, either.
And so, that Wednesday, when she’d rushed into the cathedral about ten minutes late, it was normal that she sat behind him, normal that she studied his fuzzy white head, normal that she smiled fondly when she caught him dozing off at a point.
It was when they were on their knees, and she lowered her eyes from the Body of Christ the priest held in his hands. It was then that her gaze, on its lowering course from the altar to the floor, brushed against the little old man, and rested on his feet. It was then that she realized that the black slippers he mostly wore were slippers only at the tops. There were two huge holes at the bottom. She saw the soles of his feet quite clearly.
He was practically walking around barefoot.
She slumped involuntarily and bowed her head on her crossed arms.
The tears were hot and without explanation.
All she knew was that her heart had come alive, and seemed to have contracted in a way she could not understand.
The following evening, she was early. Searching for his fuzzy head amongst the pews, she sat down two rows behind him. When he got up to make his way to the collection box at the front of the church, she got up smartly, and placed a plain brown envelope inside of the Bible he usually carried. When mass was over, she fled the premises, like a criminal fleeing the scene of the crime. Sitting in the cab on her way home, she sniffled a bit, and wiped her eyes as she thought of the brown envelope, with the two simple words she’d written on it.
1 John 3:17 “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
Suggested music: Brandon Heath – Love Never Fails