Two in a Pew

This morning I had a profound spiritual experience at Mass in the Roman Catholic church next door. I went to church with young Michelle. She was pretty in a yellow blouse and long printed skirt with flowers to match. Michelle is in her twenties, an on-again-off-again street girl recovering at Leipzig Serenity Retreat from drug use. Three years ago she had a baby girl named De Neige – winter. She is smart and vivacious, in recovery seeking healing, hoping to soon be reunited with her little girl, who is in the custody of her parents until she reclaims motherhood.

A few years ago, back when I smoked crack, I lived in a beautiful seven-room apartment, but my life was sordid. My daughters dared not visit unannounced out of fear of running into my nether-world visitors – drug dealers, street girls and homeless men.

Imagine that part of my past, then imagine Michelle’s past.

There we were, an old man and a young girl, groomed, dressed smartly, reverently whispering responses to the priest’s lead during Holy Eucharist. When it came time for Prayers of the People, I said a silent prayer for each of my daughters, and for Michelle and her daughter De Neige. I was struck by the goodness of God, smiling down at the two of us sitting in a country pew beneath the steeple of a Roman Catholic church in the middle of the Canadian prairie, both looking forward to worthwhile futures.

When Mass ended, it was time to hurry back to the Retreat house for Sunday morning 10:00 am meeting. I shared my experience. I said Leipzig Serenity Retreat is a place where healing happens; old men’s dirty minds are cleansed and young girls find hope.

Michelle shared from her perspective. Coming from a devout Roman Catholic family, she knew the liturgy by heart, spoke the responses and went up for communion, the first time in five years.

I went to church with a pretty yellow flower, unashamed of bonding, eyes clear, head free of cobwebs, two people finding hope in a prairie pew.

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