It was as if time stood still and nothing else mattered or existed. It was the only sound in the church at that moment. Thirty minutes to be exact but a moment is what it seemed. I was at church for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament when a woman walked in, lit a candle, and sat. Five pews behind me, I did not know her. I could not see her. I could hear her. As she lowered the kneeler and rested her arms onto the old, creaking pew in front of her, she began to weep. It is so hard to be in the presence of someone who is hurting so much. I’ve experienced it before, but with people I know. This was different. At first, I got a little uncomfortable. What do I do? Do I leave so she can fully “let go”? Do I go to her and ask? As I continued to stare up at the crucifix and the Monstrance, all I could think of was this woman is in pain and needs help. Her tears began to rage and breaths became shorter and more swift. She was crying, hard. My eyes welted up with tears and the ball in my throat was now present. I too began to cry. I had no idea what I was crying for, I just knew that her agony was now mine too. As I lowered myself onto the kneeler I began to pray. I didn’t know what I was praying for, I just knew that this poor woman needed me, in some way. We both left at the same time that morning. And as I made my way to the car I glanced up at her and waved. Her smile that connected our moment was sweet and genuine; I hope she is okay.
I am in awe over this moment I shared with someone, a stranger, yet someone who I also feel connected to in a sense. Out of all the places she could go, she chose this church at this hour, my hour. Her faith led her here and she knew He would get her through whatever it was that was causing so much heartache. I had no idea when I signed up for 8:00 a.m. that I would encounter a moment like this. I distinctly remember praying and asking God at the moment she walked in if I was doing everything according to His will. Funny how He works. Maybe He needed me to be there with her. Whatever the reason I signed up for that hour, I am so glad I did.
When speaking to my best friend about this moving experience, she reminded me of the many stories in the Bible that speak of accompaniment, walking with someone, journeying with them, being in the moment and not fleeing. Not leaving when it feels uncomfortable or tough, not averting our eyes, and sure as hell not attempting to connect. The next time we find ourselves uncomfortable, whatever the situation may be, stay. For just a few minutes pause and open your eyes to whatever is presenting itself to you. God intended for me to be there at that moment with her; I am sure of it. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 I stayed, through the uncomfortable moment that shifted into something words cannot even describe. Have you ever sat in silence and listened to someone weep? It is heartbreaking and it brings me to tears just reliving the moment with this woman. I will probably never see her again, but I will always remember her, the woman five pews behind me.