I first saw him out of the corner of my eye. He shuffled his body sideways towards me, braced himself on the pew in front, and sat down a few feet to my right. He looked lost, but as I watched him, he was responding rather well to everything around him. He stood up when he had to stand, and he knelt when he had to kneel.
The Gospel hit especially close to home that Sunday. It was the story of the prodigal son. I kept myself together to the end, but I lost it when the baskets were being passed around and Amazing Grace was being sung. I cried and cried, with my head in my hands, trying to stop before anyone noticed.
Then I followed him as he slowly shuffled his feet to the end of the pew and shuffled them some more until he stood underneath a hanging cross, awaiting the Host. Then I knelt down next to him and prayed.
His fingers were brittle and scarred. There were hardly any wrinkles because there was hardly any skin. His arms, once strong, were the size of a young boy’s. He must have been twice the age of the building, which was twice the age of myself.
I closed my eyes again and bowed my head. As I prayed, he leaned over and spoke to me, “You know…I was your age once.”
And that was it. He went back to praying, and when the Mass was over, he slowly shuffled his feet out of the church the same way he came in. Over two decades of pain and suffering were behind me and many more were still ahead, but at that moment in time, his words brought the healing I needed.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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