But last night — through the washing of the feet (with painful knees on the stone floor) as I have done so many times before, but then to a liturgical act new to me, cleaning the altar with water carefully poured into the five incised crosses on the mensa, and wiping it down with the same sort of towel used to dry the parishioners’ feet, and then using that same moistened towel, folded, to stifle the light of the sanctuary lamp, watching it dim and die, stopping Ed the cantor’s voice as all the lights went out — I experienced the same inexplicable joy.
More apt for joy, perhaps, such moments as bearing the incomparable weight of the Body to the Altar of Repose, beneath the canopy, God’s parachute. But the most joyous moment came at the Sursum Corda. As I turned and looked down the long aisle of the nave, out through the clear glass doors and the open wooden ones, I saw a man across Charles Street, walking along, who at that same moment turned to look into the church. He stayed standing directly, centrally opposite, looking, through the call for lifted hearts, the call for thanks to be given. I was calling to him perhaps more than to the people already churched, already on board. I don't think he could have heard me — the glass doors, open earlier, had been closed to hush the sounds of traffic on that busy street — but I hoped he knew, and knows, that I was calling him, I was calling him on behalf of someone far greater than us all. And I hope his heart was touched by that mystery, if even only for a moment, and that perhaps those doors, or the doors of some other place where God is calling, will feel the press of his hand, and gently open wide.
I don’t deserve to be so happy. But I am.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG