Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
Every few minutes the caretaker shushes the visitors. They go quiet for a moment, then keep on talking. It doesn’t disturb me as I kneel, watching young men walking cautiously into the church and pausing for a set of photos by the lovely Virgin Mary statue at the front. It’s one of my favorites.
This church can get very quiet, though it’s on İstiklal, a street which is nearly always packed with people. I’ve attended English Mass here. I sat next to immigrants from Nigeria and Ghana, listening to the five rows of choir women from the Philippines. One night when I was really on my game, I attended Mass in Turkish and delighted in trying to make my mouth keep up with the responses in their missal. I learned how to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” I’ve been relying on that line of scripture for the last ten years, and for the last six months I’ve been happily whispering it to myself in Turkish.
So I come here every time I am in Istanbul, even for just a few prayers. I enjoy the reverence of the likely-not-Catholic visitors. I love watching them look upward. I blink slowly with people striking a pose in front of the bust of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Divine Mercy image, the large photo of Pope Francis. I am far from home, but close to the familiar artifacts of my upbringing, and wearing my smile as my uniform I am always where I belong.