To put it simply, I am discontent.
While searching for happiness, I looked in the wrong places; and now, unfortunately, I’m a recipient of the consequences. Forgiveness, I suppose, must be sought patiently, and that is the path I am ready to travel.
Lately, I’ve been in need of a breakthrough – I’ve prayed for a breakthrough – and in the smallest dosages, it is coming.
This Sunday, I was in church, sitting behind a father and his son. The son, no older than nine, had an innocent obedience to his father. As the man would pull out the hymnal, the son would look up to him, stretch his neck to find a page number, and quickly grab a hymnal of his own. When the man folded his hands, so did the son; when his head bowed, the son followed; and when silent prayer-time came, the son’s lips murmured quietly, almost identically to the man’s.
The son’s admiration of the man was touching. I kept quiet watch of their interaction, out of, if nothing else, the respect I was gaining for the man’s example.
Let me give a brief detail of this Catholic church – it had no kneelers.
For anyone who has spent time in a Catholic church, the lack of kneelers is, shamefully for us, a guilty pleasure.
Instead of kneeling in reverence to the bread and wine, the congregation at this particular service stood. Then, a peculiar thing happened.
The man, despite everyone, knelt. The floor creaked at the sound of his knees. This movement was seen and heard by many people, and he drew a fair amount of quiet attention. I breathed in sharply at that moment, moved by the man’s faith, and I nearly brought myself to kneel. Regretfully, I did not.
But in that same moment, I noticed the son begin to fidget. He peeked at his father, and his eyes lightened as they once had while he reached for the hymnal, folded his hands, and murmured his lips in prayer. Within his expression, though, was doubt. Uneasiness. Maybe even a bit of fear.
Look at the scene Dad’s made, he must’ve thought. It’s too late for me to kneel – but – he’s all alone. Kneeling by himself.
The boy’s face scowled and contemplated for a good minute. Suddenly, though, he did not fidget. His face did not scowl. He placed his hand on his father’s shoulder, and he knelt. His knees, too, made the floor creak. And he, too, caused parishioners to look his way.
The best, most tender thing about the act?
The boy did not care about embarrassment.
I will admit – I smiled in that moment, and nearly felt ashamed. How had I passed up on the opportunity to kneel, in fear of a scene, when a nine-year-old boy had stuck to his principles? Faith – and loyalty to his father.
That was my breakthrough.
I walked home that afternoon, and realized I mustn’t feed into the norms of college life. I cannot afford to be a standing parishioner. I must do, and actively seek, what is best for me – in relationships, friendships, and more.
Next time, inside and outside of church, I will kneel.
And I hope the floor creaks.