Monday, August 6, 2007

the holy word

several weeks ago at st martin's (while billy was with us) we  heard the most tender and joyful reading of scripture.  a small woman in her 50s came up to the front and opened her tattered bible - i noticed it was full of bits of paper and missing its front cover.  i also noticed that she was rugged up for winter but nothing she wore was new or matched.  her eyes were filled with light and she smiled like a girl.  her face was glorious.  it turns out she was of egyptian descent. 

she started in the book of kings.  her voice undulated with joy through a long and dry passage.  at one point she stumbled on her words and said "i'm sorry, it's just that i'm so happy" (i've never heard that said from a reading of an old testament passage).  she went on to read verses out of galatians.  someone in the congregation sneezed and she paused from her reading to say "bless you" very gently.  finally, she ended with a gospel reading from luke and as she read the parable from jesus, tears streamed down her face.  when she finished, the room was completely still.  truly we were present to a profound holiness in her and a childlike love of god that held us captive.

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