The morning didn’t go as I’d planned and that is sometimes how it happens sometimes. However, just towards the end of the commenting and screen shotting, uploading, typing, editing to post; my sister texted me for lunch plans. The timing couldn’t have been better as she left from Lansing I jumped in the shower.
A few minutes chatting at my house then a drive to Roosters Coney Island. Although everyone knows there is only one Coney Island in my mind (ahem, Virginia Coney Island) I do enjoy a good breakfast at them all. Always nice to catch up with my sister and updating her on my travel plans as best I could. Everyone seems to wait for me to finish when I say I’m gonna go south to Florida, then west.
Though that is really it. So far I’ve been planning the packing list and the list of chains, and the take off list. But I haven’t worried about where I was going at all. I’ve been looking at some maps in a new way lately though.
Before I would think, I wonder what the weather is over there? Or wonder what it would be like to smell the ocean in the air every day. Now I look I wonder, would I like living there? Would it be too warm? Too humid? Too cold? And I almost laugh as depending on the month of the year, I’ve dealt with all that.. oh.. i type and I shake my head as I wonder if I could really survive the dessert. I don’t know, maybe I can?
Luckily I don’t plan on doing any backwoods or offgrid traveling at the moment. I think a nice State park campground is in my future. I’m not sure if it will be like the one I’m picturing in my mind – in a Michigan forest kinda like, exactly like Portage Lake campground or maybe a bit more like Sugarloaf Lake campground, a little bit more quiet. Maybe some nice paved asphalt lanes to walk around on.
About then I looked up at the clock and it was three oh five and my heart sank just a little.
My last Saturday in Jackson and I knew weeks ago what I needed to do. To some it’s an annual task, to others it is something they learned in school and did once or twice then avoid it completely. Still others beat themselves with it, eliciting a torturous pleasure; some might have a sip of relieve if drug there unwillingly, but may never be quenched that way. Catholics recognize it for what it is… a very serious sacrament. Perhaps not often needed, yet it is the tool for the job when required.
This year it was required and this year it was received in volume, and viaticum. In Florida after I was Air Ambulanced to the hospital in Lakeland, a priest prayed an Apostolic Pardon and also received an Anointing of the Sick while I was in a coma awaiting surgeries. The blessing is one I had learned about from Fathers Chas and Mathias, and it is a powerful one. Forgiveness from the temporal punishment of previously confessed sins. That is a big shortcut off purgatory for me.
Throughout this year though, well, I’ve remained human. I’ve had challenges (I’ve written ten thousand words about them…) yet, not like Christ had challenges. And those prayers keep me here, those prayers kept Him with me this year, or is it I with Him?
My mind darted around another minute or two, and I even double checked my calendar to make sure this was the LAST Saturday I would be here, and it is, so I started to walk to Church with my cane. Through the silver doors and across the nave, stopping to kneel before the alter. Rising to be greeted by a friend; well thoughts, hugs and good wishes. Then I went to take a seat in the pews.
Thirty minutes of waiting with just under a dozen other parishioners, quiet at first.. then small words to establish the order we’d arrived. Looking across the Church that has been my home for eleven years, since February of two thousand and twelve. Seeing the screens, projectors, and sound system I had installed always makes me smile a little, proud my contributions are still serving well.
My biggest smile while waiting came when I saw Sarra walk through, from the silver doors straight to the choir loft. Don’t ever let me say there are not good women here, that is not why I’m leaving. In fact Sarra is just one example of a beautiful woman waiting for a Christ-sent man; a human one, with flaws, like me. And as single as I’ve been over the decade, I still wonder why I said no when she asked me if I’d like dinner in two thousand and fifteen?
There were other relationships I knew would fail, yet I tried them on for size? Perhaps this one could have been the one to stick? Ha! I laugh, as now I’m starting to learn I’m not supposed to be stuck anywhere, even with a dark curly haired angel voiced woman like her. And I still hoped I would’ve caught her eye to see one more smile today. Then I saw Julie and a different wave of feeling came over me. I remembered the years working at the Church when I would sometimes attended eight am Mass where she regularly plays.
As the sole pianist and the vocalist, I do not understand how she turns her pages without missing a beat, even when I watch her do it. She reminded of the the songs I’ve heard there. The children’s voices singing Our God is an Awesome God (though that is a different pianist usually!) And one of my favorites, Here I Am Lord, one I can hear in Julie’s voice. I opened the song book in front of me and sung it quietly to myself and took a picture to remember something I’d never forget anyway.
Almost one thousand words and I just imagined the next thousand I could use to dance around before the door opened and I walked into the confessional. Around the privacy wall and sat down happily – for about the first time ever when in the confession – when I saw it was Fr. Chas. My pastor, my ex-boss, my friend, someone who knows me well. Not usually the person you want to see in the confessional, unless you never plan on seeing them again. Today, I had been hoping to see Fr. Chas (sorry Fr. Brian!)
I have to say, I feel I did well. In ten years, I’ve learned Father doesn’t want to hear the details. I prayed to my Lord in my own voice and forgot Chas was in the room and I was able express my fault in a lifetime of sin and my deepest regret for letting it interfere with my journey this far, when I had finished and opened my eyes (it was quick, just 30 seconds maybe,) I received absolution (and a new bible pictured above with some penance of course,) and asked Father for one more prayer.
I requested a blessing for my cane and gave him a quick announcement of my departure, which caused some questions. I’m glad I was at the end of the line as we had time to talk while I gave him the quickest rundown of my year, and to him, the parts that I knew he would understand.
An ad-lib blessing for wisdom and guidance on my cane and a travellers blessing for myself, a handshake and one final question.
Fr: Where will you go first?
Me: South, then west.
Fr: So out west, the desert?
Me: Maybe, not sure.
Fr: South, then west?
Me: South, then west.
Fr: There is a parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in that area, Corpus Christi.
So, I’m going to Texas. Florida will wait until after Texas, or until? I wonder if I can make in in time for Mass at 5pm Christmas Day? I was excited.. now I’m google maps excited.
Time to rest.