This time it was in my local church, the one where I sing in a choir. For Novete (or something, which is the 9 days in preparation for the Tutti Santi festival on the first of November), every night at 11, people can gather in the church to pray. They pray and prepare for the first of November.
Today after choir, the guy I go with (Emanuela's brother) asked me if it was okay if we stayed a bit, since he and the choir director (this tiny, extremely enthusiastic man, who always wears a green trenchcoat and very squeaky shoes) wanted to pray a little.
A little, apparently, was 45 minutes. But it was worth it. The quiet was sometimes broken by a door opening and closing, someone else coming in. A church bench creaking underneath the weight of the newcomer. In the end, there were about 30 people, I think-- it was too dark to count them, the only light that was on was directed at the crucifix and the--- the uh, place where they keep the hosti, I forget the name.
Anyway, after about half an hour our choir director gets up, I presumed to go away, but instead he walked to the altar. He stood there for another few minutes, then pressed his lips to the cold metal. I could see condense on the steel when he pulled away. Then he walked to the aformentioned hosti-keeping-place, knelt down, and... continued to pray.
At this moment I was getting quite bored and was contemplating just napping where I sat, since I don't know how to pray for that long. For real, I can do 5 minutes, tops. In any case, the priest stands up from one of the church benches and walks to where the choir director is, and says that if anyone wants to join communal prayer, to please join him. And everyone except me and Gianpietro did. You have to know that only like, 2 of these people here were older than 60. The rest was in their forties, some even in their twenties. You gotta know that Holland is so secularised (english?) that no one goes to church during the week. Not even really old and religious people. We don't have things like Tutti Santi or any other of those religious holidays. So for me, this is already very impressive. It was beautiful to see our choir director, so tiny and unimpressive to look at, just walk up there, alone with his faith. They were all so devoted, I felt bad for sitting there and making them less devoted just by not praying with them.
So they joined each other in communal prayer, every single person kneeling down on the cold floor. It was nice to listen to, but again, 15 minutes long. Near the end, however, our choir director walked down, took Gianpietro by the arm, then motioned for me to join them as well. I haven't even done my communion, I felt so out of place, I didn't want to make them look like fools by standing there and not knowing, not being as devoted as they were. But he was very insistant.
He said some things to me. Things that I think are better you shouldn't talk about. Keep to yourself, because the moment was there for just the two of you, and it can't be re-created through words like that. Thing is that he convinced me to join them, squeaky shoes and all-- and I stood there at the back of the half-circle with Gianpietro as they prayed and sang a few hallelujahs.
Alright, so I cried B| But it was so beautiful to see all of them putting forth their faith with one another, seeing how they were able to put all their worries into that hour of prayer, be able to tell God everything and feeling grateful, blessed that He's listening. To see those 30 people, scattered throughout a dark church, kneeling, putting their heads down on the benches, their arms, obviously so happy to be doing this, in some church in the middle of nowhere, for me, that almost makes me feel like saying fuck those fundamentalist pricks. These people, that's what religion is about. All your rules and things, all they're producing from faith is hate. And it's been said before, but never before have I felt such love and devótion from religion.
This doesn't mean I'm suddenly gonna go to church every Sunday, but it did bring forth a feelng of intense respect.