As usual, I went to church today, but today as a visitor in the pew. Which is a marvelous place from which to gaze upon the mysteries. There was a woman, a prayer lady, stationed at a prayer desk off to the side, and a few parishioners stopped to kneel before her and ask for prayer after receiving communion. An older man paused there for a moment, and then came a woman I know to be a priest but who was, like me, in parishioner-dress.

While she knelt before the prayer lady, a young man, maybe eight or nine years old, walked forward and stood by, watching intently and with quiet anticipation. The parishioner-priest returned to her pew, a few other folks came by on their way back to their seats, and the young man's body seemed to be urging him towards the prayer desk even while his manners held him back in order for the others to pass through. Finally, he straightened his tie (yes, his tie, which was blue I think, or maybe I remember a blue sport coat) and approached the prayer desk, and knelt. The prayer lady bent her head toward his, and took both his hands in hers, and they remained in that posture for some time. I could not look away, although I knew I ought to refrain from overt curiosity.

What a sight. A young head, with its almost neat haircut, close to a much older head carefully styled and sprayed, wrinkled hands enfolding skinny youthful ones, and not a mother in sight to urge her son towards prayer. He clearly came forward on his own, knowing, I guess, that he would find what he sought with such respectful eagerness. And all the while in the background, the green chasubled-one gave out bread and white robed chalice bearers bore their silver cups to and fro around the altar, and the choir sang in the back, and tears welled in my eyes as I pondered this mystery of prayer and connection.