One of my favorite past-times is people watching. Looking at what people wear, how they style their hair, what kind of shoes are they wearing now, piercings, etc. All are fascinating to watch. Conservative or “way out there” can walk past you in a very short span of time.
We go early to Church on Sunday. We need the extra time to get me in and out of my wheelchair and in place before it gets crowded. I also like to pray before Church starts to make sure I am in the right frame of mind to worship. This past week, hubby confided that he likes going early so he can watch the people.
Since it is summer now, we saw many who push the boundaries–wearing halter tops, flip-flops and knee-length shorts. Some young women always wear their skirts too short causing us to wonder how in the world they stay covered decently. This adventure into voyeurism reminded me of a short story I wrote in 2003 about my Sunday observances. I thought I’d share it with you. I called it “Thoughts from the Back pew”. Enjoy…
“I love Sundays! It’s my first day off! Time to put off the cares of the past week and relax. ‘Thank you Lord, for a good sleep. Thank you Lord for your presence in my life? This is so precious to me! Thank you for the opportunity to pray and praise and worship You!’ I ask Him to help me open my mind, heart and spirit to His presence so I can prepare for church.
I love the Catholic Church. I love the Mass and I love the Liturgy. I love the reverence and awe we pay Him during our worship…the chance to genuflect and the chance to kneel in prayer! And I love the praise and worship songs we sing! Sometimes I want to raise my hands like a good little Pentecostal! But, some Sundays it seems I have the attention span of a very small child! Every little sound is a distraction!
I get to Church early. I want my handicapped parking place and I want my back pew. I go in and begin my prayers. If I pray eyes, open, then I see every person who comes in. There is one young woman who realizes too late that perhaps her skirt is too tight or too short, because she tugs on it all the way down the aisle. I snap my eyes shut again and pray. I hear couples whispering. I hear a noise, and look up and watch as a child runs down the aisle wearing really loud flip-flops. I close my eyes again. I hear the bustling of people entering and greeting each other. Mass begins.
Latecomers distract me as I’m singing the opening hymn and the ushers seat them. I focus really hard on the words. In the middle of prayers, a family enters laughing and talking, forgetting that we’ve all been here for 10 minutes and they are running late. The first Bible reading begins. I hear whispered conversation and want to go “Psst!” I focus on the words again. The usher seats someone else. A child begins throwing a temper tantrum.
I feel God gives special dispensation to parents! They have super hearing and deafness all at the same time! The have super hearing that enables them to hear every word and prayer that goes on in Mass despite the squirming, going to the rest room, asking questions, crying or throwing of toys that goes on. Their deafness causes them to be able to tune out the distractions. What a gift!
Father begins his sermon. I’m enjoying it immensely. He packs in wonderful thoughts and insight into his words. My thoughts begin to wander. I look back at Father and realize I missed something. “Help me Lord”, I whisper. I listen again. Now, it is time for the Offertory song. Uh oh! A child on the way to the bathroom just threw up at the back of the pew. I spend a lot of time whispering, “Be careful! Watch out” while the ushers dash off for cleaning materials. Well…I missed that song!
Communion begins. As I sing the hymn, I notice the people in line and how they act. Some are reverent and some are nodding at those they haven’t seen in a while. Some are shushing children. I receive, and pray thank you prayers for this great gift and for His presence in my life. The lines are dwindling. Some go up, and as they come back, they just keep on going and leave the Church. Hmmm…
The closing prayers are said and the last hymn begins. Mass is over. Thinking back, I realize I missed part of each Bible reading, part of some of the prayers, part of Father’s sermon, and part of the communion hymn. I sigh, “Lord. I didn’t do too well today.”
If you ever see me in Church wearing ear muffs and blinders…you’ll know why!