19 April 2010

I'm Just Saying...

Here's your warning: there's graphic, explicit stuff in this post.

There are some things you folks in the regular pews just miss because you are where you are. While I never hear announcements about a car with its lights on or doughnuts after Mass, I'm willing to bet no uniformed officer interrupts one of the readings because he's looking for a couple of guys who have left something suspicious in their cell.

And your service probably hasn't been stalled because the loudspeaker is used to announce, "Pill line!"

And people don't line up to leave fifteen minutes into the service because the gym just opened up.

Lots of other things you probably see and hear, but not those.

And I'm guessing your pastor has never had to write someone up for masturbating in the front row in the middle of the homily.

Admit it. You just want to attend my church. You really do.

14 April 2010

The Sunday Routine

There is more to my Sunday than prison, communion services, pastoral counseling, and checking in with volunteers. When I get home in the late afternoon and open the front door, the Sunday paper that I had to kick inside at 6am is waiting for me. I take it to the back bedroom where there's a recliner and weed out 75% and then settle in to read.

I always finish with Section B of the Seattle Times. This is the section with the local (versus national and international) news and four--yes, I said four--pages of obituaries. I have had a long love affair with obituaries and their companion, cemeteries.

(My sister and I went to Ireland together years ago. After arriving at Shannon Airport, we got our rental car, made it through the maze of the parking lot that is designed to get you used to driving on the left, and set out. Our first stop? A cemetery. I think we were also looking for a bathroom, but it was a cemetery and we spent a good amount of time wandering around in there.)

Anyway, the obituaries are always the last thing I read. By that time is almost 7 and I'm starting to snooze, and a little nap in the recliner is not a bad thing. Last Sunday, I read through those four pages, all kinds of stories about all kinds of folks I will never meet in this world.

Then I took up my yellow pad and wrote:


Unlike the other souls you will meet and greet on the surrounding page, Shannon O'Donnell did not go peacefully to her heavenly home. She went kicking and screaming, protesting to the very end. She wasn't done with life. She left things unfinished. She was still mad about many things and clearly hadn't mastered the art of "Let go and let God."

She wasn't done laughing about the absurdity she tripped over. She hadn't protested all the injustice she'd seen. She let some friendships go stale and didn't put out much effort to rekindle them.

She talked about writing a book. It was always in process. It didn't get done. No matter what the deadline, she managed to elude it. She was good about producing short things on deadline, but only short things. Stuff made for the long haul? Forget it.

She promised a lot. She couldn't do it all. She helped some people, hurt others. She wasn't always sorry.

As she leaves, she borrows a line from her youngest brother, "So long, suckers!"

Sundays at prison, always an adventure, and afterward, who knows where the brain goes??