Early morning weekday mass is a quiet scene. About two dozen folks show up for some meditative time and scripture, prayers of intentions and gratitude, Communion, some socializing.
On any given morning there is an eclectic mix of attendees; a young Hispanic mom with two kids, older couples, a nun in a windbreaker and khaki pants, a young person or two on their way to school or work, a shy homeless gent by the door with his gigantic backpack, elderly ladies quietly telling their rosary beads.
One of the regulars is a cheerful, diminutive Hispanic woman, well into her 70's who, despite the predictable eighth-decade health issues, shows up rain or shine, and often does the scripture readings. Over the years I've known her, I've seen her at peace demonstrations or politically related events; cooking enchiladas at fundraisers or feeding the hungry in our community. This, of course, when I was usually busy with much more "important things" to do.
On a recent morning I was looking for her after mass to share some news. I found her in a small alcove of the church standing before an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, head bowed, the bright morning sun streaming through the stained glass, illuminating her head of cropped, white hair. I stood at a distance until she turned and recognized me with her familiar smile. We spoke briefly, and I helped her push open the heavy church door, as she ambled out into the morning on her new knee, and the door thudded closed behind her.
For a minute I thought about what little I really knew about her life's journey and the principled spirit that I see quietly burning in her. I'd like to think, I have to think, that the world is full of people like her - non-celebrities who don't take themselves too seriously but who take on what they do with purpose and humor.