I cannot not write about Andrea. I was moved to tears but I have to hold it being a member of the choir on the Feast of Sto. Nino yesterday (I did not want tears and mucus mixed up with singing). She moved me to teary muteness, and a dozen or more of mass goers I believe.
Andrea was about 3 ft. tall and so a shorter table was set for her beside the improvised altar in an open football field. She will do the first reading. In Braille. The event was a “fun day” for special children from different schools and institutions, around 300 of them or more in their excited innocence. It was a very auspicious day as homilies all over the country would be centered on the childhood of Jesus. If Cebu and other places with Sto. Nino as their patron saint had street dancing, these special children had their liturgy and games in an open field.
But Andrea was the homily. And the captivating dance of a prayer. Sitting on a plastic chair, she stood up, climbed the sanctuary with the assistance of 2 adults. The other had to stay by her side throughout the reading. Her one hand held the microphone, the other thumping on the “Brailled reading”. She missed mentioning where the reading was taken from. It was from Prophet Isaiah 9:1-6, casting a seeming irony especially from a blind reader like Andrea:
“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death,
a light has dawned.”
But like manna in the desert, Heaven spoke so eloquently like no other sumptuous homily could take place. I did not time Andrea but it probably took her around 7 minutes to complete the reading. In between, she made long pauses, asking for clarifications from her guide over the microphone. Her fingers and mouth struggled to finally give voice to the written Word. Long pauses between words and phrases. There was a flow in those long pauses. It was a very prayerful flow because it was the natural interplay of silence and the written Word: every word no longer taken for granted. No hurrying. No sense of failure. No fear of being judged. I listened with bowed head especially to the “meddling” of silence in a human voice and words. It was powerful. I had journeyed with kids with cancer before. But Andrea incarnated that cloudy morning in an open field the mystery: the Word from Silence.
Light had dawned through Andrea that morning especially for those who looked beyond the surface. It was a beautiful, moving light. If Max Picard was in the congregation, he would surely say it was prophetic:
“Children – the little hills of silence – are scattered about everywhere in the world of words, reminding men of the origin of speech. They are like a conspiracy against the all
too-dynamic world of the words today. And sometimes it is as though they were not only a reminder of where the word comes from but also a warning as to where it might return: back into silence. But what better thing could happen than to be brought back into these little hills of silence to become immersed therein? Then there would be only little hills of silence on the earth, and in them the word would try to sink itself deep down into the hills so that out of the depth of the silence the first, the original, word might be born again.”
The World of Silence, p. 111
Thank you, Andrea!
Photo credit: Peninsula Galleries