Sitting in the pews of St. Catherine’s Parish at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is not quite the spiritual experience that you might expect. The ebb and flow of pilgrims groups bring a hushed awe into the sanctuary and cameras flash as they look upon the stained glass rose window of the Holy Family. They endeavor to record this beautiful work of art and moment for the years to come after they have returned home. Who can blame them? It is a beautiful church.
As one group of pilgrims exit there is a second of silence. Then, the silence is broken by the squeaking of sneakers shuffling on the stone floor. Another group has entered the sanctuary whose acoustics are extraordinary. Squeak, squuuueak, squeak, sq, sq, squeak. And then they too stop to admire the window. Some of them light a candle for peace and some stand there with their eyes wide open simply looking up.
I’ve renamed the Church. Rather than St. Catherine’s, a more apropos name is the “Church of the Squeaky Soles”. Every soul that walks into the church without even realizing it leaves his or her individual squeaky sole sound in the great sanctuary, a symphonic offering given faithfully to the Holy Family. If ever there was something that would keep the baby Jesus awake it would be all those squeaky soles. Forget the lowing cattle or those angels flying high above singing glory in the highest.
Our squeaky souls are exactly what he was born to hear. Me and you, each one of us squeaks loudly out of the circumstances of our lives. Isn’t it good that in the holiest of places we can show up in our noisy sneakers and find acceptance and love?