I left early with the intention of sitting quietly in a back pew, going over my devotional reading for the day. Having been away from the church for the past month, I wanted to get back into the rhythm of morning mass. But more than that, I needed to be in the presence of strangers, to be alone in a community. To feel awed and small and protected. I needed the stone columns and arch ways, to see them holding it all up over us.
I needed to know that there is something larger, more solid than myself right now.
But the doors were locked: closed for construction this week.
Everything had shifted next door to the elementary school but I wouldn’t go in. Today, I needed to see to believe.
And that wasn’t going to happen in a gymnasium.
My favourite Franciscan writes that “[w]hen we are nothing we are in a fine position to receive everything from God.“
The trick is to keep ourselves open, like cupped hands, ready to receive whatever He gives and when we want to close ourselves up tightly, to protect our vulnerable selves, we must pray that He will teach us how to unclench. To unfold, and allow ourselves to be filled: this is how we learn the habit of grace.
Instead, I walked home, taking the long way.
Down the busiest streets where the sound of traffic and tires on wet snow were almost enough drown out His voice in my prayers.