7: Beauty - a Miracle

There was a "healing Mass' posted in the bulletin for 7 on a weeknight.  The only  Parish healing event I'd ever been at was during the Lenten mission.  It was about spiritual emotional healing, a lovely talk and prayer service kind of thing, I liked it.  I wondered how you did a Mass with that but I always like Mass, anyway, so I went.  I was still very new and hardly knew very many people. I wasn't expecting anything miraculous, of course.  Funny how that works.

As I entered the Narthex, there was a small group of women standing together and one of them saw me come in, pointed straight at me and said, loudly, "YOU!  You have to sing with us!"  Uh... what?  I looked around, she meant me.  Okaaaaaayyyy...  This was the problem: I had no clue who this woman was.  I guess since I sang in the choir she recognized me and needed a singer.  I didn't want to.  I wanted to go sit down and just be in a pew and see what happened. I liked to be by myself at Mass.  I liked time before to pray, which is why I was a bit early.

There was no resisting this, though.  She led me through the  Nave to the choir area and told someone to give me some music.  Shoot.  I looked at the music, I never saw it before.  I didn't read music. But I sat next to another choir member I knew was very good and waited for whatever to happen.  The choir director came out but he seemed to just be there to play, no one was directing us at all. The church filled up, a lot or people for an evening service.

The people in the "choir" were all very excited about whoever this priest was and I suddenly realized these were all charismatic Catholics.  I got a bit apprehensive, there wasn't going to be like an altar call or laying on of hands or anything was there?  The people in the pews were praying, there was sound from some of them, like quietly speaking in tongues.  I wasn't praying, I was in an unexpected situation I didn't know how to gracefully get out of looking over music I didn't know how to sing with people expecting me to participate in something I was increasingly uncomfortable with.
It was past 7 o'clock and glanced at my friend and asked if the priest was even here yet?  She said yes, but he prayed beforehand and he never started until the Holy Spirit told him.  While she was speaking I looked up and turned to her and really looked at her fully:

She was beautiful. 

"Wow, you look so beautiful!"  She just smiled.  I wondered what she did that night - new make-up, then I looked around.  

Everyone was beautiful  Everything was beautiful, but especially the people.  I just kept looking at them.  I'll tell you the best I know how, but it will make no sense.  The church was full of pearly light - everything was seen through it, and everything was beautiful in a way I can't explain.  I just wanted to keep looking at the people.  Here's the thing about the pearly light: I couldn't see it and I knew it was there.  

Then we started singing and all I focused on was the music so I could somehow get through and we had Mass and I kept looking around, asking myself if it was some strange hallucination or trick of the overhead lighting or....  finally Mass was over and I went to a pew.  People were moving  ome chairs to the front and Father had gone back into the Sacristy while they did that.

I sat next to an old woman and turned deliberately to look right into her face while she spoke to me.  I studied her minutely: droopy wrinkly eyelids, sagging sallow skin, deep cut lines into her lips, a fairly large mole + hair, cracked dry lips, thinning hair, shiny scalp seen through it under the lights.  Crepe neck wattles.

She was so beautiful.  And I knew it wasn't the lights and I wasn't making it up.  This was the Presence of the Holy Spirit. As she turned away to greet a friend who came into the pew, I wondered if this was what Jesus saw all the time while He was Incarnate?  

A lot of things went on during the next couple of hours that would seem to an outside observer to be very miraculous, I suppose.  But I didn't think anything was more miraculous than Beauty.