Every year at Easter, we Catholics renew our baptismal vows. Then for the next five weeks, our ministers pass among the congregation, sprinkling us with holy water as a further reminder of our vows.
Most often, the holy water misses me and I’ve often wondered why. I can think of some spiritual possibilities, but I think the answer is a more practical one. I am a middle-of-the-pew Christian. It’s not that the seats on the aisle are all taken. I arrive early to mass and usually have my choice of seats. I choose to sit in the middle.
As I look out at the congregation, it appears as though someone has taken a huge magnet and passed it over the middle of the rows of pews, pushing everyone to the sides like iron filings. The people on the aisles are often firmly entrenched, and others are forced to wiggle their way around them. There are those who need to get up during the service, commentators, readers, ushers, etc. Sitting on the aisle is a requirement for them so they don’t have to disturb anyone. For the rest of us, we have a choice.
In my hope to convert others to the joy of sitting in the middle, I would like to offer these advantages:
- There is a lot more room in the middle. With everyone crowded along the edges, those of us in the middle can spread out.
- There are really nice people in the middle. I’m not saying those on the aisles are not nice, but I feel a kind of kinship with those in the middle.
- You don’t have to worry about people climbing over and around you.
- You get to stay to the very end of the service. There’s no reason to hurry out the door. Life is crazy out there. Why not linger a little longer were there is peace and joy.
- You will leave room for those who need to sit on the aisle–those who arrive late, parents with small children, people who have physical limitations.
Those of you who move into the middle can probably think of other advantages. It is my hope that by pointing this out, others may choose to join us. See you in church!
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