I baked a bunch of banana bread for the people I work with at school. In the main dining facility at school, there are a lot of non-student employees (dishwashers, prep-cooks). And often times the relationship between that group and the students is a little cold or non-existent. So in an effort to bridge the gap a little bit I brought some banana bread in on our last day before holiday break.
I was at the 10:30 pm Christmas Eve mass with my mom, dad and one of my brothers. We arrived at 10 p.m. so we were too late to find a seat together. My mom who had her hip replaced a year ago refused a seat. Not out of pride. The church was hot and humid and she wanted to stand by the open door. I watched as a mom of three with a new born hustled in the door and found a spot to stand next to a window on the other side of church. I thought, hopefully she will find a seat before mass starts. Mass was held in wonderful Franciscan church on Quantico. The Franciscan monks are known as the hippies of the Catholic Church. They teach love of all of God's creatures. The current pope chose the name of Francis and teaches similar to how the Franciscan monks have been teaching since my mom was a little girl. Because of its location, the parish mostly consists of marines, active and retired, and their families.
As 10:30 approached older couples, young adults, and families of all sizes filed in the door. I noticed not one person had offered that mom with a baby strapped to her chest a seat yet. Even the elderly woman with her son next to me, not yet seated. I looked up and down rows for an opening to where I could point the couple. No luck.
A man in a black suit seat near the choir gestured at the elderly woman and pointed to an open chair on the end. The chair was next to woman who was sharing a seat with her disabled son. He was 9 or 10 years old but could still fit on her lap for the duration of the mass. The man then walked to take his spot at the back of the church next to me. He gave me a warm smile and nodded politely at the elderly woman's son.
Mass began, and the woman was now rocking her fussy new born as her two children were laying on the floor and climbing on the window somehow simultaneously. It made me cringe to think that I had not seen one person offer their chair to her or any of the others standing. The elderly woman sitting in the choir was now making friends with the woman and her son. They were smiling and whispering to each other during the sermon (I probably should have paid closer attention to the mass). As mass began to conclude, the young disabled boy climbed over the elderly woman and ran to the back of the church with a big smile. He ran into the open arms of the man in the black suit, then he shook hands with the elderly woman's son. It was only then that I realized the man next to me was not an usher, but the young boy's father. Everyone around the father and son smiled at the loving exchange.
The woman with the new born never did get a seat, unfortunately. But that small act of kindness of the man and his family was still very heartwarming. I wish more could just offer one hour of standing, or sharing a seat, to allow room for someone who needs to sit.