I can remember pouring water over the priest’s hands as he prepared the Eucharist. It was one of the many little acts I did as an altar girl for our Catholic church. I remember each Sunday after spending the whole mass next to my priest, thinking he must be so close to God. Why does he seem so far away from me?

As a kid, I really wanted my priest to know me. Yet at every interaction, he always seemed so deep in thought. Deep in reflection. Far away from me, the little girl right next to him at the altar on Sundays.

So one day when the whole congregation was praying at the end of mass, there I was standing next to him as he began to pray and give the benediction. Everyone out in front of us was holding hands across the aisles. In an act of sheer bravery, I slipped my hand up high to reach into his, all the while staring at his face wondering how he would respond. He smiled while his eyes were still closed. Relief flooded me as I settled and bowed my head to pray.

It felt like such a risk for me as that little girl to dare to hold the hand of someone who I saw as so close to the God whom I wanted to know too.

I often think back to that story in my childhood and wonder what longing did that represent in me? What did it reflect about what was going on inside of my soul? Ultimately, I think I simply wanted to be known by the father. My priest seemed to know God and God seemed to love him. So what if he loved me? Could that mean that God loved me too?

In many ways, all these years later, I can still feel like that little girl. I want to be known, to be loved, and to be wanted. And when I look at the stories of Jesus, I see him telling different women in the scriptures this very thing. “I see you, and I love you”. I tear up thinking about it, because it does echo my own desires. Most days, I just long for Jesus to say the same to me.
photo courtesy: Close to Home