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.