In church, today, an elderly couple sat two pews in front of me, a bit apart. They both had short, grey hair. He reached over and stroked the nape of her neck, tenderly. I quickly decided this was happening because they were Christian, so not overcome with the hatred that has consumed men and women. My mind always writes these stories.

I knelt down to pray and my head was bowed. My neck was exposed because I had put my hair up in a clip. I was praying for comfort.

I asked Jesus to please come, here, as in come here, which I had never thought to ask before. I read this in a book by Teresa of Avila, that you have to picture him in front of you as you pray. Right away, I “saw” the edges of his robe, as he approached, and felt a warm hand radiating kindness over my neck, not touching it. My eyes filled with tears. I could swear he said, “dear child,” but I can never tell what is my own mind and what isn’t.
This has never happened before, in Church. I don’t go very often, at all.

Once I was on an Amtrak train in the deep south and the guy working the cafe car called me “dear child,” when he asked me what I wanted. I never forgot it.

When the Priest, in his rust colored robe, shook my hand on the way out, he seemed to know what had happened.


Chambers Street subway platform, hardly anybody there: A man bent over and a small plastic bottle of Beefeater’s gin dropped from his pocket. He knelt down and picked it up. He looked around. The train came.

About Celia Farber

Celia Farber is a journalist, author, and editor based in New York City, who grew up in Sweden and New York City. Farber has written on a variety of subjects for SPIN, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s, Salon, New York Press, and many more. In 2008, Celia Farber won the Semmelweis International Society’s Clean Hands Award For Investigative Journalism.


  1. Cheryl Nagel says:

    Celia, This was so touching. You did it again.

  2. Clark Baker says:

    When God taps you on the shoulder, you know it – Thank you for sharing your very personal experience. You’re blessed.

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