Today, for the first time in months, I went to St. Peter’s for 12:05pm Monday Mass. I got there quite early as I was already out and saw no point in going home then leaving again. I was surprised to find that both the side door and the front door to the church were locked. There were a few people sitting around between the office door and the one to the basement. They all looked like they were part of the hanging out around the church, but not going inside unless they’re serving a meal in the basement group that are often there.
A little girl probably around the age of 5 or 6 was with this group. She was walking around and playing. Her mother said that I should push the buzzer to the basement door a bunch of times and that “some old guy” would come answer it. The young girl came over and demonstrated how many times to push the doorbell. I stood there and waited, but no one came, so she hit it repeatedly again. No answer.
I stood there for a bit longer debating whether I should leave and go to Mass somewhere else instead of waiting for most of an hour outside of a locked church. That’s when blondie started asking me questions. She asked my name and started talking to me about the birds, the bus, and when I said I was there to see Fr. Bob and pray, she asked me if he is my father, and I explained that he’s a priest who works for the church. At one point, the little girl took my hand and led me over to one of the parking spaces and sat down on the wall. She told me to sit next to her, so I did.
I found myself silently praying for this little girl, wondering about her life and why she, her mom, and another lady would be sitting for three hours outside the church doors on a day when there isn’t a meal being served at lunchtime. She told me that one time they were let inside so she could go and use the bathroom in the basement.
Before I went inside, the girl called after me, “I hope I get to see you again later!” How precious is that?! I’d just met her a short time before and spent a little time with her since she was clearly wanting some attention, and she’s already hoping to see me anon.
What would have happened if I’d just ignored the little girl rather than talking to her? She was so innocent and friendly. It made me wonder how often I’m so caught up in what I’m planning on doing that I miss out on the joy right there in front of me.
Lord, please help me to be more aware of and receptive to the joy that is right before me, often unexpected and unplanned. If I am to be a vessel of hope and joy for others, then I know I’ve got to be better about receiving it at any time, from anyone, and any situation. Lead me to bask in Your joy and the light of Your love!