Wednesday, November 14, 2007

going postal

As a rule, I consciously limit my visits to the post office as the holiday season approaches.

My Dad, Keeper-of-the-Box, used to relish his trips to the hive-like hallway lined with shiney metal doors. He would always find some reason to wait in line at the mailing counter on which dust accumulated at quadruple the speed with which customers were attended.

Me? I want zombies, I go to Netflix.

Anyway, yesterday I stopped at this huge post office on my way back to the rectory from the cemetery. I did OK at the burial and figured that the level of human activity on display there would be good immediate preparation for the pulse-slowing pace of the USPS.

But you know how sometimes you walk into a place and feel in every fiber of your body that something just isn't right?

Only one person in line and three (out of a possible seven) postal workers in attendance at the counter.

I first suspected that tear in the fabric of the universe that we've been waiting for, then I thought it might be something even more sinister... they're hiding? it's a trap? the hills have eyes?

It was the one person in line who snapped me back to awareness.

"Ohmygosh, Father, I can't believe you're here! This is totally incredible!"

The young African American woman was not a zombie. I know zombies.
I didn't know her.

"Maybe I am missing something?", I offered.

"Ohmygosh, I was just standing here, alone in line, and I could feel a panic attack coming on and it was going to be a bad, bad one. And I'm praying, 'Dear Lord, don't let me go to pieces in here, not in here, please'... And the next thing I know, here you are standing beside me in line and everything comes back into focus. This is incredible."

She smiled with that glistening hint of tears in her dark eyes and dropped a rib-crushing hug on a very bewildered padre.

It is now deemed 'incredible' when people don't go postal in the post office.
Fiction doesn't come close.

Monday, November 12, 2007

divine carefreeness


You would not believe the verbiage.

And it's not like they've never done this before. Every year for the last century and a half the Puerto Rican Catholic community has celebrated Our Lady of Divine Providence with novenas, parades, vigils and the like. This parish community - boricua in its majority - has done so for at least 45 years.

You'd think they'd be getting the hang of it by now.

Endless meetings. Every detail discussed as if for the first time. Then discussed again.

And when all is said and done, there's as much confusion as if we had improvised it from the get-go. These are the complexities of life in a small, Hispanic inner-city parish.

I look at the image that is at the center of our celebration and I grow deeply envious of that Child... Blissfully asleep, sublimely oblivious to all the fuss being made around him, confident enough in the wiles and ways of his young mother to abandon himself care-less-ly to her defenses...

I suspect that the celebration of Our Lady of Divine Providence is as much about our ultimately trusting Him as it is about His recklessly trusting us.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I could get used to this...

Just can't get enough of it.
A sickness, perhaps?
Or a longing fulfilled...

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Lists seem to have replaced more sophisticated forms of writing in a way similar to electronically generated pulses replacing real music in our day. Another effect of the myspace brainshrinking pathogen, maybe.

It's hard, though, not to fall prey.
I apologize in advance for what follows.

Things that have surprised me recently, but probably shouldn't have

1. Neither the Archbishop nor any official Catholic spokesperson has condemned the burlesque and insulting invasion of the Mass by protesters in drag who call themselves the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence". That is scandalous, although not shocking.

2. The LC sicced its high-paid lawyers on ReGain (pitiful, self-obsessed, insignificant ReGain) in the hopes of ...what? Recovering 'private' writings that are all over the web? Fulfilling its adamantly affirmed policy of suffering calumny silently and turning the other cheek? Scaring off other potential or actual critics with scientology-like tactics? Smells like pay-back to me. This, too, is scandalous. The only thing surprising about it is how oblivious those responsable apparently are to the degree of scandal given to thoughtful and honest LC and RC members. Very painful.

3. The Yankees can spend $28 mil for Roger Clemens to pitch 12 games and still not get past the first round of the ALDS. Must be Torre's fault. They should fire that guy.

4. Derek Jeter is now expected to pay for his hookers' parking. What is the world coming to? New York definitely has to take better care of their role models...

5. The eastern access to the Panama Canal is actually further west than the Pacific coast access of the canal. I got to see it all very close up. Spectacular.

6. The Lipitor I've been taking for the last three years was never meant to be a suppository.

Oh, well. Live and learn.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

sweet 16

It's not the flu. Couldn't be.
I got my vaccine at the end of October. And a tetanus shot. And went to Panama.
Medical science says I can't get the flu and science is never, ever wrong.

It's not spinal meningitis. At least I hope not.
That's what little Guzmán has. He's from Chiautla, Puebla. 'Swampy place'.
Little Guzmán was baptized on Holy Innocents in a squeaky-sterile setting.

But I was sick before meeting Guzmán so I think I can safely rule out a bacterial infection of my membranes.

My guess is that this lingering illness of mine - which I am sadly getting used to - has something to do with moose poop.

Because that's what I feel like. Moose poop.
And feelings are never, ever wrong.

Anyway, sick or not, I've been silently celebrating today.
Sixteen years ago, under the soaring dome of St. Peter's, I was made a priest by Pope John Paul II. Sixteen years of largely unnoticed but - I like to think - not unfruitful ministry.

Unnoticed is good. Fruitful is even better.
I want to thank everyone who has been there along the way.
I ask forgiveness from anyone who got hurt or got less than they hoped for from me.
The future looms full of unexpectedness.

Of course, that's just a hunch.
But hunches are never, ever wrong.