Praying with My Eyes Open

On belief and survival in a community of God

Catherine Adel West
Gay Mag
Published in
9 min readJan 16, 2020

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Illustration by Christina Yoseph

EEveryone prays with their eyes closed. Except me. I watch brown faces, grimaced in earnest prayer, pleading to God for deliverance from hardships: unemployment or unhappiness or overdue bills. It’s the First Sunday of the month, Communion Sunday, and we’re all dressed in snow white or muted ivory or shy alabaster. It is what my church does. It is tradition from as long as I can remember. So I don’t question. I do it.

Etched on the front of a wood table are the words “Do this in remembrance of me.” On top lay two fake brass plates topped with crosses. Inside of the plates are crackers and grape juice. We use grape juice because no one drinks alcohol or rather no one is supposed to drink alcohol at this church. I can’t speak for the church less than fifty feet from us or the one across the street less than two blocks away.

A few scriptures are plastered on old pockmarked walls. Next to them are purple banners with gold lettering displaying the sacred names of the Lord, the Jehovah names. Misshapen brown water stains mar the ceiling. And I wait for God (whatever I believe Him or Her or Them to look like) or Jesus (I know what He looks like), but no one appears. Everyone opens their eyes and we eat the crackers and grape juice. Maybe God prefers cookies and milk like Santa Claus.

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Catherine Adel West
Gay Mag
Writer for

Catherine Adel West is a writer and editor living and working in Chicago. Her debut novel “Saving Ruby King” is set for publication June 16, 2020.