Wherever I live, I want to have a church, and so I have adopted Santa Trinita near my apartment. I prefer the quite times in the church, the times when Mass or the Rosary are not being said. I don’t mind the tourists walking around, for they are quiet, which is a good thing, for this 13th century Gothic church is well visited. There is something particularly comforting and spiritual about the space that visitors seem to sense. And then there is the Sassetta Chapel with frescoes by Ghirlandio depicting the life of St. Francis (1483-86) that attract many tourists.
My plan is to arrive at the church when it opens at 7 and remain in the quiet until mass commences at 7:30. I was a little late today, but I’m just getting into the routine. Just before mass began, a woman, in her 40s I’d say, walked up the aisle and around the altar talking and flailing her arms. The priest looked at her, smiled and held his hands in prayer; the woman sat down quietly for about five minutes. She then made a deep bow with hands raised, and left, talking just as she had entered.
Many thoughts went through my mind and heart. After saying a prayer, and concluding that I was safe, I considered what might be going on with this woman. How easy to assume that anyone who doesn’t follow the usual social boundaries is in some kind of trouble. But maybe she’s okay; maybe her biggest problem is that she doesn’t act within the social norms. I can’t judge but I can pray for peace for her.