Here’s the song reference.
At Mass yesterday morning, Beanie and I sat near the elderly lady who so enjoyed our younger daughter’s quiet rendition of “Jesus Loves Me” a couple of weeks ago; we frequently choose a pew near her, as her regular spot is close to the door leading to the restroom. While Beanie rarely needs to get up in the middle of Mass for a potty break these days, it does happen on occasion, and it’s better not to disturb too many of our fellow parishioners.
The lady in question is beautiful. Her face is carved with lines that seem to form a roadmap of a joyous life, because when she smiles, the lines converge into a mask of radiant happiness. It is the kind of face I hope to have when I am old and frail, so everyone that sees m might know that infirmity of body in no wise lessens the love with which the Lord has infused my soul. She has a particular affection for Beanie, and the feeling is mutual; during the sign of peace, if the lady is nearby, Beanie makes a beeline for her, then delivers her gentlest hug and a whispered, “Peace be with you.”
As we were exiting the pew at the end of Mass, our friend favored Beanie with one of her radiant smiles, and Beanie danced over to her to say, “good morning.” Since we were in no particular hurry yesterday morning, I crossed the aisle to add my greeting and simply enjoy the blessing of a gentle lady’s companionship for a few moments.
She greeted us in return. “Good morning! You know, I so enjoy seeing you and your little girl at Mass. She is so sweet.”
“Thank you, ma’am. We are always happy to see you here, too. I really appreciate how kind you are to her.”
“Oh, that’s my pleasure.” She turned to Beanie. “How are you this morning, sweetheart?”
“I’m fine, thank you. I read my Bible during Mass today.”
“I saw you reading so nicely. You must be very smart.” Turning back to me, our venerable friend inquired, “Wherever did you find that? I could see the pages, and that’s really a beautiful book.”
Smiling, I replied, “I actually bought it at Burlington almost seven years ago, when we were expecting our oldest daughter. It is beautiful, and tough, too – can you believe it’s stood up to four little children?”
“My goodness. You have four children?”
“Yes, ma’am. Beanie here is the second in the series, and the only one who wakes up early enough on Sunday mornings to come to Mass with me. It’s our special time.”
“That is just wonderful.” She turned back to Beanie, who was tap-dancing a bit and watching the acolytes extinguish the candles on the altar. “Do you enjoy reading your book during Mass?”
“I do, I like my Bibles very much, and Mommy says it’s okay for me to read it, because I’m still thinking about Jesus during Mass.”
“Can you read the words?”
“Ye-e-es!” Beanie opened her book randomly and began to read aloud.
“Goodness, you are a bright girl! What is your name, dear? My name is Alice.”
“I like your name,” replied Beanie, before answering with her unabbreviated name, which happens to be quite a mouthful.
“That is a beautiful name, and you are a beautiful girl. It is very nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Miss Alice,” replied Beanie with a hug, “and I think YOU are beautiful.”
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for the company of people You have blessed with long years and joyful souls. Thank You for Your little blessings whose eyes see the proof of joy in their lined faces, and whose arms to embrace them gently as a reminder that hearts still have room for them. As we raise them, Lord, please grant us the grace to teach them that loving our neighbors when they become elderly or frail is not a burden, but a singular privilege You grant us, as You once granted Your disciple the privilege of caring for Your mother. Please grant us enough wisdom to respond to the needs of those men and women You have crowned with halos of white hair with cheerful countenances and gentle tongues, and enough strength to answer Your call to serve them.