“I was dumb with silence. I held my peace; even from good; now my sorrow is stirred.”
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He sat there and his line of vision was inclined to the inscription upon the Cathedral’s arch. It read, in Latin calligraphy- In Nominez Patris, et Filii et Spiritus Sanctii.
The fourth pew was thirteen- maybe fifteen metres away from the east-end marble altar. And there were fifteen- maybe twenty people as he walked in approaching the crossing. There were two large doors that stretched out like open arms. All the votive candles had been lit and some sat in objective silence. It passed for such a venerable site-that they had chosen to spend their evening in the Lord’s house. But the truth is, one doesn’t simply go to church on a day that’s not Sunday unless there was a problem they wanted their God to ‘fix’. In his book, this was a truism. Some were humbly perched on the kneelers murmuring silently. For where else would they anchor their unrequited hopes? Who else could relieve their shoulders of the weight of the world? The God of stringent scripture? Yah, the Lord of Psalms? There IS no one else. He walked along the aisle toward his designated pew. He pocketed his right hand and out came a rosary. Still, he felt he had forgotten some minutiae requirement about his being inside the cathedral. He doesn’t give what’s forgotten much thought, so he purposely ties his rosary to his left wrist. He keeps walking.
He tried with much difficulty to cushion the clacking of his leather shoes against the concrete aisle and not distract others who had come to take stock of their faith. He was more afraid of the excitement his presence inspired upon the eyes and mouths of his town claque. An old dame cast a glance at his approaching figure almost reflexively. She was done with reciting her rosary. She had balanced her spiritual account and had been credited unshakable peace. And when their eyes met- she smiled. Ugh. She recognized him!
“So people like you have problems, eh? You come here too?” is what her seen-it-all eyes seemed to be asking of his presence. He observed that she regretted this immediately, as if she had just realized that people like him took stock of their faith too. She purposed to be as subtle as possible about his alarming arrival. Let them see him, their benefactor, if they were meant to. She started her departure.
Now he found himself watching her leave. She had sort of a spring beneath her legs. Her worries reduced to a frazzle. Her prayers reached home. There she went vibrating peace.
Am I not allowed to know such peace?
Why-even for a fleeting moment…
Now it hit him that he had earlier forgotten to dip his hand right hand into the stoup, for the sake of holy water. Now he found himself seated where she sat, abandoning his designated pew and staring at the Latin. He was pierced by the sun’s rays through the translucency of the rosy lancet windows. The ambience was dizzying. This must have been the desired effect- a place as grand and as beautiful as wealth and skill could construct. Vibrant enough to put you in a meditative trance.
There was something else- his senses became aware of someone else watching him. Paranoia turned him around slightly only to see her- the old dame-still watching him from behind the doors.
What now? He glared… Harvesting more fodder for town gossip?
She half-smiled, disarming his glare and leaving him even more confused. He would keep this particular memory about that day not only because of the peace she embodied but also she was the only one to notice him. The tailor’s son turned town benefactor.