It was a challenge finding a seat at the beginning of Mass this evening as I arrive a few moments late for what some of us jokingly call "Last Call for Redemption."

My parish hosts the latest Catholic Mass in Hamilton each Sunday at 7:15 pm; it is commonly called the folk mass after the live music provided by the house band.

The regulars attend each week and sit in the same section of the pews each week.

I am one of those people.

I went to sit in my "usual" area, and there were no seats left.

An usher pointed me to an available designated spot.

Every other row is closed to achieves social distancing.  Benches are limited to one couple each or one family for a section.

Acoustics and Masks

I am double-dosed, and I remind myself of this as I see a few people not wearing masks. I sense my anxiety.

Transitioning out of COVID is a process.

Joe Allain is singing and playing the opening hymn. After sixteen months of listening to the Mass livestream wearing high-quality headphones, the cavernous acoustics of the church nave is unfulfilling.

We are signing along, the sounds of our collective voices muffled, an effect amplified by social distancing. It feels unfamiliar and uniting at the same time. We are united in prayer and purpose, a purpose of protecting each other.

Unfamiliar Masks

I choose not to take communion today. Being only a week into my second vaccination, I remain unnecessarily cautious. I like to spin this as part of the transition.

Attending Mass is a social experience, seeing familiar faces and marking life events together as a parish.

It is hard to know who people are with masking, add to the challenge sixteen months of time and hair growth. There are many longer hairstyles than in 2019.

I quietly and quickly left at the end of Mass, whereas before the pandemic, I would chat with friends and catch up with the events of their life.

It is Nice to Be Back in the Pews

Kneeling in prayer and thought, I found myself comforted by familiar surroundings and revitalized.

Onwards we transition.