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The sounds are familiar, ancient, even.

The slow scrape of shoes against the floor.

The creek of the pews.

The thud of knees.


Church: quiet and encompassing.


It’s noon on a Tuesday and I sit in the back of College Church. I’m not praying, though I know I should be, instead I’m drawing, with words, the beauty of this sanctuary.

The reaching arches, the light pouring through the windows and staining the cream-colored walls with purple, green and pink hues.


I come 30 minutes early for 12:00 pm mass. I have to. My ever-racing mind forces me to. Only then, somewhere in-between the clutter of unspoken words and unimpressive test grades, I’m able to manage just a few minutes of real prayer and reflection before the celebration begins.


Usually if we begin right at noon, we’ll end at 12:28 pm, that is unless Father is particularly passionate that afternoon, at which point we’ll finish up around 12:29 pm.


I sit in the back of church and wonder at what draws everyone here. I watch them as they slowly trickle in, lugging their backpacks from their shoulders and sighing off coats. They have come in the middle of their day, in between classes and after tests.


Mass begins and with it my struggle to hush the traveling thoughts of papers, and due dates. To focus on what’s in front of me: all that’s in front of me.


Some come for mass and leave; others sit long after Father has left, and long after the candles have been blown out. They sit hands cupping face, or heads down, or they simply sit back and stare. To them, it seems, it is enough just to be there in His presence.


I too find myself coming back.


I find myself there when I do not plan to be. On one occasion as soon as I parted the wooden doors and entered, I was overcome with tears. I was frustrated, overwhelmed and tired, and this is where I came. This is the only place I could have gone. The only place I wanted to be. I did not pray with words that day. Instead I offered fallen tears; “You have made us for Yourself. O Lord…” I laid my stifled cries at His feet. “And our hearts are restless until it finds rest in Thee.”


I cannot explain His Love. I do not have the words. I can only say that it draws me back. Silently lifting me up as I fall. Holding me as I weep.


“Lord, I love you above all things. Help me to love you above all things, to praise You above all things, to worship You above all things, to desire You above all things, to know You above all things.”

Sarah Gay is a Physical Therapy student at St Louis University. She loves reading books, exploring nature, and listening to music.
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