Ethereal dialogues series
THE PRAYER OF AN UNSOPHISTICATED SLEEP WALKER….
I walked into the church, as the service was just starting. It felt like I was entering here for the first time. Oh, I was still feeling sleepy. I took my usual place next to the last pole. I was afraid to close my eyes lest I might fall asleep. Am I walking in a dream? The smell of incense is so pleasant. The hymn they are singing is my favorite. Here comes Mina dressed up as a deacon… Gerges and Joe as well. Adel is reading. I was reading this part of scripture a few days ago, which reminds me… Yes, and I also read that other book about the modern day Christian converts. Its graphic description of the torture and sufferings of these martyrs is still haunting me. Why do I remember this now? That baby crying in the back is driving me crazy. For goodness sake, please take him out of here. Why they removed the crying room is beyond the boundaries of intelligence. I cannot believe this. Samir is trying to squeeze himself next to me. I always like to stand next to the pole to avoid any discussion during the service. I know he will start tal…k…i…n g….
“Hey Jim did you hear about Sammy?” He whispered in my ear. I looked at him with a bland smile and did not answer. He was not going to stop, “He had a bad fight with his Dad because of what happened last Tuesday.”
I had to end this, “Samir, may be you can tell me after the service?”
He was not to be deterred, “I am going to the mall with the gang after the service.” I knelt down to avoid the discussion. He knelt down next to me and continued blabbering. I closed my eyes and did not respond. I felt him finally stand up and walk away. I stood up and opened my eyes to see him standing next to John and whispering in his ear. They both laughed and sat down to continue the dialogue. I already missed all the readings. I don’t even know what the reading of the Gospel was about. Let me try to focus now. The baby started to cry again. Before I get angry, I must try to control myself. I tried to focus on the altar…
The words fell on my ears like a clap of thunder, “…. You turned my punishment into salvation for me… I am the wretched sinner…” why are they talking about me? No, wait… they couldn’t be talking about me… could they? Many pictures started to roll at the back of my mind… all of them ugly and horrible. How can any body with all these horrible sins venture into such a Holy place? Oh, I should not cry…a lot of people will notice that… and they will definitely misunderstand!!
May be I should leave. I feel like I am a dirty spot, smearing an otherwise pristine scene. Can any one like me hope to have a place in heaven? I must stop these tears… many people will notice that.
Instinctively, I raised my eyes up. They fell upon the Cross, with the image of the Lord hanging on it. I felt like shouting. “I love you… I love you… But I am too filthy to dare come anywhere near you.” I closed my eyes. The whole scene of the crucifixion filled my mind so vividly. Oh, look…the thief on the right side…yes…yes…I remember now…the promise… I do have hope after all. “Lord, I cannot love you nearly as much as you…love me.” Those pesky tears… I must pretend it is just lack of sleep…I opened my eyes and quickly wiped my tears.
They’ve come to my favorite part of the service, the commemoration of the Saints. I closed my eyes and climbed up to heaven. They are saying the names of all those I love… I can see them in my heart…I see a wonderful crowd. They all look so spectacular…Oh, but they don’t mention all the names of my beloveds… yet I see them all here around me. Wow, they look so glorious. How I long to be with them… now…right now…how wonderful it is to be in such company..!!
This…no…stop. A cruel voice is whispering in my ears, “you don’t belong with them… you wouldn’t fit in that company” I opened my eyes, looked at the cross … I cannot see clearly through the water lens filling my eyes. My heart relieved, I felt happy for I could answer my accuser… “I know what I am…you don’t have to remind me. I don’t belong in this wonderful company indeed. But the One, who died for me, is my redeemer. He lives and he will pick me up and wipe away all my infirmities and put me there among those I love… to be with him…and with them…forever.”
It’s time for communion. How beautiful it is to see all those human angels approaching the sacrament. Please Lord bless all of them. Each one of your children goes through many battles and tribulations. Only you can protect and guide them. I wish I can hover around them and protect them all the time…but of course I cannot. I cannot even protect myself. No one can. Only you are able to be with them… with all of us…all the time, everywhere…only you can look after all of us. Please send your guardian angels and saints to help them all…to…
I saw St. Mina move to the front of the crowd of saints raising his arms in prayer. I wanted to say something but I couldn’t move my lips. Yet, I knew that he realized what I wanted to say for it was inscribed on my mind. “Oh my beloved…You helped me so many times before. What are you waiting for this time? You wouldn’t abandon me after all the wonderful things you did for me already?”
Droplets of water fell on my head and face, so I opened my eyes… the service was coming to a close. Everybody was leaving now. Handshakes, hugs and greetings… it is so beautiful to see such a display of love…true love? But there are some people who are walking away alone, like strangers… I wish I can walk to everyone of them, shake hands, and call them friends…make them feel comforted, welcome…and…before I know it, somebody was shaking my hand and giving me a hug…this must be what is called…True happiness?
reflections on (Psalm 133: 1-2)
Picture of the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth.