HAPPY PI DAY! HAPPY MONDAY! HAPPY DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME-ISH.
So here’s this week’s edition. It’s a Lenten special (for all you Christians out there.) It’s called, “Guilt.”
After mass, he had given what he had promised would be a three-minute talk about volunteering for the local youth ministry. In her reasonless disdain for him, she tried to count to 60 three times in her head. To test him. But his pointing and prodding with his finger into the church assembly from the pulpit, reciting, “if you and I…” kept dragging her mind away from the task. Even though she was swallowed up in a sea of families, old people, and wailing babies, she felt his finger had a laser on it for her immortal soul. She tried to shrug it off. She chalked it up to Catholic guilt.
And now there he was, standing in the back of the vestibule, watching all the families and old people and wailing babies file out. Shaking their hands, kissing the babies, and offering up his best good Catholic boy smile.
She walked up to the pastor and extended a hand to him for the post-mass well wishes. There was no one else around occupying his other hand, so he clasped hers with both hands and squeezed it hard. Squeezed it until she felt her high school ring twist and cut into her pinkie finger. She had to keep from squealing.
Out of his sight, she stooped over and surveyed her pinkie finger, the red throbbing circle and a distinct slit in the skin where the decorative metal grooves of her ring had sliced their way in.
She was rubbing the flagging piece of skin back and forth, when she heard him speak. When she looked up, she realized he was speaking to her. She was standing right in front of him.
“What happened there?”
She paused. No way she could blame this on a priest. And an altogether entirely too cheery priest at that.
“It’s merely a flesh wound,” she said with a light laugh and tinge of accent.
He gaped at her gaping at him.
“So are you thinking about volunteering?” he asked.
She held in a heaving sigh.
“No, no, no, you wouldn’t want my help,” she said. After she said it, she thought it made her sound more like a boozing prostitute and less like the merely lukewarm Catholic she had meant to portray.
“I mean, I don’t know anything about the Bible, or doctrine or anything like that,” she said.
“I bet you know more than you think,” he said with a goofy grin.
She felt like he was trying to convert her to a religion she already belonged to. It felt completely unfair.
“I just really don’t have the time it would take to be committed,” she said.
“You’re right, it is a sacrifice, but if we make time for God, we’ll find time for everything else.”
The vestibule was thinning out. They were almost the only two left besides the altar servers disrobing. He was going in for the kill now. Find the weakest lamb of flock, she thought, and preach, preach, preach.
“Like I said, you don’t want me volunteering for you,” she said.
“Then why do you even come to church,” he said. She detected a hint of hautiness in his voice.
Why did she come to church? She thought a better question might be, why didn’t you go to church all those years, and why did you decide to come back? Or better still, why haven’t you left yet, again? Those questions would have required thoughtfulness and time. But not this question.
She looked up at him, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Because I want to.”
Turning on her heels, she dipped her sore pinkie finger in the holy water font, made the sign of the cross, and left.