She sat in the back pew. At first, she seemed eccentric: she wore purple a lot, she shuffled in and out. She was at times shy, then ‘out there,’ then she would drill down and look you in the eye. Kind eyes, but eyes that saw into you, then past you and far away. I later found out that she sat in the back pew to pray for everyone in front of her. (Something I could have known if I’d just asked her, but you know how we shuffle in and out ourselves,  only knowing the people who sit near us or get talkative in front of a coffee urn.). No, it was a good while before I knew what she was really doing in that back pew. Praying.

She saw and heard things not recognized by the human eye or ear. We use words like “prophetic” in church. If you’re not religious, think of the artists and poets you love who split through convention and say something that, even if you’ve heard it before, hits as new and true.

A month ago she found out she had stage-4 pancreatic cancer. She decided to get ready to leave. (I don’t say “die” anymore. Not after witnessing my mother’s departure. The body may die, but you know better than to think the they of them is still in it. Watch someone leave for Home, and you will never say “die” again.)

Well, the woman in the pew  left today. I wonder if she stopped by the pew to sit for a while, and make note of how clear things are now, and smile at the things she glimpsed back then, if only through through a glass darkly.

Larry and I wondered if the church will put a plaque on the wall where she sat.

I wonder, who’s going to take her seat and pray. Pray with those faraway eyes.


  1. May she rest in peace.

  2. Oh so sweet. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you for sharing this

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