In my mind’s eye, I see a young woman, dark-haired, kneeling on the floor of a church.
It is not a figure kneeling beneath the towering, elegant arches of a cathedral, however: not a picturesque scene in artistic light and shadow depicting a moment of yearning in a movie. This church is a plain building, large but spare, nondescript brick on a nondescript street. The look is more that of a plain, modern conference room than a cozy chapel of time-honored memory. There are rows of chairs, half-emptied of their rows of people of every age—the people stand, crowd toward the front, fill the isles. In the front of the building, on a stage where musicians sing softly, another young, dark-haired woman with a glowing, warming smile, cries to the people in a ringing voice, her eyes alight. She has come to remind them their God is much bigger, much closer, much fuller of grace, than they remembered.
The peoples’ hearts throng to her message. They are weary of the cares of law, worn from the struggle to reconcile the grandness of the God in their Holy Book to the often-meager survival of their daily lives. Their faith is renewed; it wells in new joy even as many of them join the young woman on their knees on the floor. Freedom from broken hearts, broken dreams, hidden sorrows, flow as the tears flow—in release, in promises restored, in healing.
The young woman’s heart throngs as the hearts around her. She seeks freedom the pain she has carried so long—so long that it seems it has always been with her. It is not a pain of deep and hidden sin, not even the pain of great wounding at the hands of others, though that is perhaps how it began. It is only the pain of a broken heart, of shame at the depth of her wound that others do not see, and her fear that if they did its foolishness would elicit disgust or condemnation. It is the pain born of holding that same judgment against herself.
Some of those around her do not notice the anguish on the young woman’s face as she kneels, her posture the embodiment of desolation and misery. They are blinded by their own pains. Those who see things, though, are startled to compassion by the fleeting moment when she lifts her face, glistening with tears, to the ceiling and then, overcome by the weight of her burden, huddles again quickly and forcefully to the ground. Those who see this would, perhaps, have understood and loved had the young woman risked her heart to them. Three of them crowd around, reach out loving hands and begin to pray. One of them drops to her knees and puts her arms around the weeping girl.
In your mind’s eye, do you see this picture? Do you perhaps see in this scene…yourself? What does it say to you of your own tears, your own hopes, your own vision of those around you? Do you kneel?
Do you sing?
Do you pray?
Do you comfort?
In my mind’s eye, what startled me was that when the girl lifted her face to sky, it was my own.