All day I had spent the odd moment trying to catch news updates on Pope John Paul II’s fading health. I read reports and saw images of the people flocking to pray at their local churches or gathering in large numbers in St. Peter’s Square to do the same thing.
So after work was finally done I set about to visit my church and to pray also. As I navigated the traffic to reach my destination, my thoughts were upon the Pope and I worried about what I should do once I got to church since I felt at a loss.
At first I was dismayed as I pulled into the parking lot and viewed very few vehicles in attendance. I worried that perhaps there was nothing happening or since it was First Friday the Mass had not started yet because I was so early. Steeling my shaky nerve I walked up the steps and entered the church. The door swung easily open to admit me.
It was quiet in the hallway leading pass the confessional and prayer rooms to the church itself. Except for a the few people I spied standing in the parking lot it seemed no one was in the church itself. But as I approached I started to hear the piano being inexpertly played.
Peering in all I saw in the back pews one woman on cell phone, another in dark blue sweater, blue jeans, and curled light brown hair, and behind the piano in the far right corner a small girl playing it.
The woman on the cell phone spotted me once she was done with the phone and I decided to find out what was going on so I gamely sat in the wooden pew behind her. As I did I really took in how the altar area was arranged. First few pews had their ends decorated in white with green. The altar, which was already pretty because it stood in front of a broad expanse of glass through which the hillside sporting new green and small pale red flowers could be seen against a blue sky, was decorated with a small forest of green plants and candles.
I said hello to the woman, her name is Reba, and explained I had come to church to pray for the Pope. She asked me what was the latest since she had been busy, had he died? Told her that he was still holding on but his health was worsening. Reba explained to me there was a wedding scheduled for 6pm and people were supposed to be there at the church by 4pm. Well it was 5pm and only she, the photographer, and the flower girl [playing at piano] were there.
We got to talk about the Pope and his health, about Terri, and how precious life in general is. Mentioned the contrast between our concerns for the Pope’s health and how tonight a new life would be born with this wedding. Then the flower girl came bounding up all full of energy, she introduced herself as Kristin. She was dressed in a pretty dress who’s top was peach and the long skirt was a pale green while she greeted me with large innocent brown eyes.
Finally other people started to show up. The matron of honor and two bride’s maids appeared. The matron’s slim figure encased in a strapless long hem dress of peach with blonde hair perfectly in place lead the other two. The two bride’s maids were of a younger age. One in a strapless pale green dress while the other in pale yellow and blonde hair tied back in a bun, which accentuated her youthful round face.
Next to appear was the best man with his entourage. Where the matron and bride’s maids were all in pastel and lovely creatures of heaven, their attire struck one as being more hit man style than what should be in a wedding. A collarless white shirt under similar collarless black jackets was how they were attired. The image was reinforced by two of them with baldheads and all decamping to be outside to smoke.
I knew the wedding was drawing nigh when the church organist came into the church and started to warm up. For a while the church rang with the peal of bells while other times it spoke in more classical tones. And then Kristin was looking out the open doors and said she spied a white car and said they were here.
So I said goodbye to Reba and Kristin, thanked them for chatting with me. Reba reminded me I better be in church this weekend in a cheerful tone of voice and I promised I would.
As I walked out of church I felt better than I had coming in even though in hindsight I did not accomplish what I planned to do. My spirits felt lifted and at ease. Approaching my car I noted how there were more vehicles in the parking lot with people sitting in them, now I wonder how many of them were tuned to the radio listening intently on the latest news about the Pope.
But that thought was far from my mind at the moment as I unlocked the car and started it up. As the radio came to life and the music started to play I had to laugh at the incongruity of that song playing at this moment. But I saw in this random act a deeper meaning, perhaps I seemed to be more attuned to unseen forces, as I realized this was letting me know my prayers and worries about the Pope were being answered. The Pope may die, things may get a bit rocky, weddings may run late, but in the end things will work out and life will go on. Pretty deep thoughts considering the song that was playing was ‘Tainted Love.’
But that is how I feel about it so deal with it. All I know is, I feel more at peace at what will transpire in Rome now that I have come from church.