Father John is stooped and frail, his eyesight so dim he often stumbles while watering his roses in the courtyard behind the old church. A smile lights his face as he relishes the splash of the cool water spurting from the hose, remembering his nine-year-old self spending endless summers jumping into a lake near his grandparents’ home. An occasional breeze stirs the long black robe, lightly caressing thin, frail shoulders as it moves over the sparse wisps of his white hair.
There is suddenly the slightest movement in the bushes next to him and he knows someone is watching him. Carefully turning off the faucet, he struggles to make out an faint figure crouching in the shadow of the wall.
“Are you hiding? Do you need help?” His soft voice quavers and shakes with age, the words light enough to be carried away in the breeze.
No answer, but a slight scuffling noise breaks the silence.
“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”
Still no response, and he finally turns to slowly make his way up the brick walk to the chapel. At the steps leading up to the church, his gnarled fingers grasp the iron rail, one foot carefully searching to find the first step. After a long pause a small warm hand gently slips into his, and together the two slowly climb the steps. Reaching the top he stops to look down. The figure is child-sized with dark hair. Peering very closely Father is able to make out a small boy with brown skin and huge black eyes.
“Do you want to come inside?” he asks softly. Still silent, the boy carefully leads the old priest inside. The air is cool and still in the dim light of the sanctuary. Slowly the old priest makes his way up the aisle, the child’s hand warm and trusting in his. At the altar, they pause.
“Are you hungry?” he asks. The little boy nods. “Then we must see what we can find for you.” He slowly shuffles to a large door set in a shadowed recess of the sanctuary. “We’ll have to find a special place for you. Somewhere you will feel safe, where you are loved and needed.”
Again the tiny hand finds his. Light as air, a soft voice whispers in the shadows,
“Yo puedo ser tus ojos.” I can be your eyes.