I am kneeling.  There’s a squirming child somewhere nearby.  If she’s not on my lap, she’s sitting right beside me.  Her sister is whispering to me, or looking through my purse, or reaching for something on the other side of me. And yet, in spite of the distractions in the pew with me, I feel the familiar lump in my throat.

C’mon! I shout in my mind. No crying!

And then it happens.

As I start to respond with the congregation, the lump lets loose.

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

It’s a rare Mass that doesn’t have me shedding some tears.  My husband once passed me my daughter’s Cabbage Patch doll when I was sniffing at the end of Mass and things were looking hopeless.  That doll’s dress saved me from certain snotty embarrassment.

Sometimes, it’s a well-chosen hymn.  Other times, it’s a baptism.  Usually, it’s just a regular old Mass.

I have a hard time explaining it.  I’ve been crying in Mass since before I believed there was anything important happening.  Is it a recognition of the Great or of Truth or of Something Bigger Than Myself?

Maybe.  I’d like to think so, anyway.

Even during Masses when I’m feeling pulled together, ready for the action, prepared for the miracle, I find myself somehow surprised when I kneel right before Communion.

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

I know I’m not worthy.  Oh boy, do I know it.  I yell at my kids, my husband, my friends, myself.  I whine and complain about things that I should see as blessings.  I sin and then, without blinking, I sin again.

And that’s a good day.

It’s not the recognition of my own unworthiness or even the realization that He doesn’t care that I’m not worthy, that He embraces me despite my unworthiness.

I think, after years of feeling tears course down my cheeks as I say this phrase, that it’s the healing I know is coming that makes that lump blossom in my throat.  It’s knowing that my arms are wide open, and so are His.  It’s knowing that I’ve been going along, not looking back or around, but when I come back, on my knees, He always offers me the same healing, the same peace.

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

He says one word, and I’m all better.  And in that series of moments, I can only cry.  I can only bare myself, offering Him the little I have, and ask Him to do with it what He will.

And He does.  With a word, I am healed.

Copyright 2009 Sarah Reinhard