I was sitting in church on Sunday by myself. Only two other people sitting very far away from me in a very long pew. Mid-way through the service, a visitor came and plopped herself down beside me. She looked over at me and grinned, but didn’t say anything.
Frances is five years old. Blue eyes, bright red hair, youngest daughter of the church’s rector. Pretty sure she has the entire congregation wrapped around her little finger. She doesn’t seem to realize this yet, though, which is good.
I put an arm around her and patted her knee to say hello. She began swinging her legs back and forth from her perch on the pew, showing off her summery sandals and pink toe nail polish.
She interjected comments periodically during the service. I suppose I should have told her to be quiet, we’re in church, and we can talk later. But she spoke quietly, and I didn’t have the heart to shush her anyway.
“My sister’s up there singing in the choir.”
“I brought my imaginary dog and cat–actually, I have two cats–and they’re playing over there. Did you bring your imaginary dog and cat today?”
“I got new ballet slippers yesterday.”
“Can we go on the elevator?”
I promised her that we could, once the service was over. We’ve developed a little tradition of going on the elevator on Sundays. The church only has two floors, and sometimes we don’t even ride up to the second floor. I’m not quite sure what’s so exciting about the elevator, but I think there must be something fun about having your own little hideaway where you can play with your imaginary dog and cat–actually, two cats–and push buttons that make the door open and close and the elevator move up and down. Or maybe there’s just something fun about having a little tradition of doing something with a grown-up every week at church.
We prepared for the most important tradition of the church next, and I pulled a kneeler out as we listened to the beginning of the Eucharistic liturgy. Frances watched me, then pulled out her own kneeler and knelt beside me, her head barely peeking out above the top of the pew. We went up for communion together and knelt at the altar rail. We started back toward our pew, and she slipped her small hand in mine.
It just about made my day.