I rode my bike to morning Mass today. It makes me feel virtuous to say that: I rode my bike. To morning Mass. Lest you have an image of Tess from the Lighthouse sitting serenely in her pew, with golden, polished halo in place, let me inform you that the weather here is very hot and very humid. Nobody is serene in these conditions.
To set the scene properly: it is humid, so my hair is very large. I do not have the luxury of naturally curly hair, but I get to share in the inconvenience naturally curly haired people have of hair that grows more voluminous in the humidity. Nothing can tame it. Also important to know: I was wearing pants that came to my knees (Long shorts? Short capris? Whatever – my kneecaps were exposed)
By the time I got to the Church, I was glowing (a polite euphemism for sweating), red-faced, and big-haired. No halo would fit over that hair. I made use of the ladies room to pat my face and run cold water over my wrists in an attempt to cool down (a trick I learned from my mom) and check the mirror for flies in my teeth (an occasional downside to biking is the involuntary intake of insects), and to dry my elbows, which for some reason ‘glow’ quite a lot. I didn’t once think of my knees.
I selected a pew which promised a steady stream of coolness from the air conditioning vent and composed myself for prayer. Catholics do this on their knees using conveniently placed kneelers at their seats. The kneelers are usually covered in vinyl. Vinyl, as you may have experienced, gets rather slippery when wet.
Remember the long shorts/short capris I was wearing that left my knees exposed? Turns out my knees, as well as my elbows, ‘glow’ after a bike ride, meaning my knees were damp, causing me to slip and slide from side to side. I gripped my arms more tightly over the pew in front of me to keep myself upright, but my elbows were slippery as well.
So there I was, far from a serene, halo-in-place parishioner; less concerned with my devotions than I was with holding on for dear life. That’s what prayer is, isn’t it? Holding on for dear life.