After I decided to join the Catholic Church, I remember the first time I went to a parish to sit in at Mass.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t been to Mass before.
I had this idea that I needed to move things from my head to my heart.
To see what that decision felt like in practice. Rubbing elbows with actual, everyday Catholics. To see if there really was a place for me.
I remember seeing the folks down front. The boy with cerebral palsy and his family. The old guy who had lost part of a leg to diabetes.
Seeing them made me really look at who I was sitting with.
A family with who knows how many kids. A woman I vaguely knew whose husband died last year. A friend who was trying to keep her job here while taking care of her ailing mother who lived out of state.
The guy who responded after everyone else. And nobody cared. Because that was just Charlie.
A guy out on bond, waiting to be sentenced. The Vietnam vet who gave me the sign of peace with his left hand, because that was what he had.
A homeless women trying to be invisible.
I remember thinking to myself (and I’m choking up as I write this) that if there was a place for them in the Church, that maybe.
There was a place for me too.