Los Angeles Times national correspondent David Montero’s front-page feature on the parents of an El Paso, Texas, shooting victim is not perfect.
But it’s pretty darn close.
It just might be — in terms of the mixture of storytelling prowess and attention to faith details — the best religion story you’ll read all year.
However, be sure to grab a tissue before clicking the link and becoming engrossed in the narrative. Trust me on that.
Montero opens with this powerful scene (it’s a big chunk of text, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut it off any quicker):
EL PASO — The pastor had never prayed so fervently.
Michael Grady had just learned that his 33-year-old daughter was lying in a pool of blood at Walmart.
Shot three times, Michelle Grady had managed to dial her cellphone to call her mother, Jeneverlyn, who jumped in her car and kept her on the line until she reached the store.
His wife called him from the store, and Michael Grady raced to join them. The drive from his house to the Walmart normally takes about seven minutes. It felt longer.
When he finally arrived, the parking lot was already taped off. He saw his wife’s car by the theater next to the store. He parked. He ran.
But his 65-year-old body, which had endured a quadruple-bypass heart surgery a few years prior, couldn’t move nearly as fast as he would’ve liked.
Keep reading, and Montero quotes Grady — in the father’s own words — on exactly what he was praying. And later in the piece, he does so again.