And the last shall be first

And the last shall be first

She put her loonie in the slot and chose the middle candle in the front row. So many parables about the last being first, but picking last had not worked so far. In the darkness of the chapel, the oval silhouette of her face glowed just a moment as the tinder in the candle lighter flashed. She knelt down and looked up at Mary. Such understanding and peace flowed from those tender eyes:

« Je vous salue Marie … »

No. She would bare her heart in the new tongue.  She was bi-langue. She would adapt as the Mother of all refuge, the Mother who had fled her own home with her son in her belly when Herod attacked. Theirs was a common language. Sainte Marie would understand.

 “Mother, I’m sorry if I have asked too much …”

Her voice, rising to a quiver in the sombre chapel frightened her, so she stopped. Mary knew her every thought, her words, her deeds, her heart. Eight months in the shelter. Room and board she had, and she was grateful. She had shared with strangers. There was food, there was kindness, there was voluntary work in the kitchen and community. But still no papers. Was asking for papers too much? All this her heart threw up, eyes pressed tight.

“Mother, if dignity is sin, then I stand accused. But hear my plea, O Sainte Marie, I’m losing my mind.”

She rocked back and forth on the kneeler in the dark silence.

And then the front portal squeaked. A triangle of light invaded the chapel from outside and swiftly collapsed as the door swung back with a crash.

©Cynthia James March 2015

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