By Simcha Fisher
Without really meaning to, I seem to have adopted adoration as a mainstay of my spiritual life. It’s the thing I keep coming back to in all seasons, and I’ve done so since I was in college, and I hope to keep it up until I’m one of those creaky old people who makes everybody hold their breath while they shakily lower themselves down for a little genuflection, possibly never to get up again.
I have been to all kinds of adoration chapels: ornate, baroque ones and glossy, minimalist ones, ones that feel like waiting rooms of some kind (waiting for what?), ones that feel like a Polish grandmother’s rummage sale, and ones that feel like raves.
The funny thing is, the people you meet at the adoration chapel tend to be the same, no matter where you go.
Everybody knows, for instance, about the classic Jesus whisperer: The adorer who simply cannot pray without whispering. Maybe it’s how they keep track of how many Hail Mary’s they’ve said, or maybe Sister Mary Scrupulosa back in 1952 actually taught them it somehow doesn’t count if it’s not audible; but by gum, as long as they’re there, everybody else in the room is gonna hear about it. Some people can simply smile and shrug and say their own prayers, but for others, the Jesus Whisperer is a good reminder that earbuds are cheap and there’s nothing wrong with googling “one hour of rain sounds” before you pop in to pray.
But there are a few other adoration regulars who turn up almost as reliably.
For instance: “The Juicy Mouth.” A close cousin to the Jesus whisperer, these folks seem to realize that it might be disruptive to others to actually whisper prayers. Instead, they simply mouth them. And for some reason — and I’m willing to admit that the reason is that I’m crazy — this is far, far worse than whispering. It’s just an hour of barely audible, faintly wet, somebody-else’s-mouth noises, and it’s the absolute worst. Yes, I have heard of offering things up. No, it’s not getting me anywhere.
“The Accessorizer Supreme.” Many people bring rosaries, chaplets, Bibles or other prayer books, maybe a journal, perhaps a chapel veil. The Accessorizer Supreme brings THE WORKS. She (and it’s generally a lady) sits down, unpacks her tote bag that says “this is the day the Lord,” pulls out a binder that says “has made,” unzips it, flips it open to the correct page, whips out a little box that says “let us rejoice” that holds dozens of miniature color-coded post-it notes and starts applying tabs to the chart in the front so she can get caught up on which color highlighter she’s supposed to be using today.
The highlighter has a little bespoke leather tag tangling off it that says “AND BE GLAD.”
Once she establishes that the color of the day is pink, she pulls out the retractable matching pink bookmark to note the spot where she started reading for the day, and then smartly tears open the velcro on the little fanny pack where she keeps the thematic hand puppets, with which she acts out the Bible verses. This can occasionally be a little distracting for the people around her, and once somebody complained when she got up to the Song of Songs puppets, but this is HER SPIRITUALITY and she is a TACTILE LEARNER and also if you are interested, she knows where you can BUY THIS EXACT KIT and she will EARN A SMALL COMMISSION.
“The Medievalist.” This guy has his own little set of observances that range from the pious (that is one very profound genuflection, both knees and, yes, he’s slo-oo-owly bowing his head to the ground as well! And he’s just kind of leaving it there, how … devout!) to the alarming (please tell me that jingling sound is some kind of keychain and not his latest impulse buy from MortificationsMortificationsMortifications.com). You can see by his bumper stickers that he fancies himself something of a modern-day knight templar, and you just hope that means he’s going to be extra chivalrous in the parking lot, rather than, you know, crusading anybody. Probably just enthusiastic, and more power to him. But these are strange times.
“The Insider.” A church employee, or possibly just someone who’s very generous with their time and talent, who spends so much of that time cheerfully cleaning and decorating and setting up and bustling around and fetching things from closets and crawling around under pews and adjusting the thermostat and being the last one to turn the lights off, that they’ve gotten to feeling a little TOO at home, and it seems like you need to keep an eye on them so they don’t go over and absentmindedly hop up on the altar for a chat, or pat the monstrance on the head.
“Ora Et Sopora.” Dude just finds a seat and takes a nap.
And “me.” As you can see, I’m an idiot and sometimes I just go in there and be mad for an hour, because there are other people there. In the universal church. I know better, but I do it anyway, and I will probably never stop.
Luckily there’s also Jesus. The only one in the world who is always glad to see me, even when I’m being an idiot. How sweet it is.
Simcha Fisher is an award-winning columnist who regularly contributes to America Magazine, Parable Magazine and The Catholic Weekly. She lives with her husband and eight of their 10 children and several animals in a surprisingly small house in New Hampshire.