Posted by: Peadar Ban | July 29, 2019

Just Another Day: Sunday, July 28, 2019

I had slept well Saturday night knowing that we would be rising at the crack of dawn to go to Mass across the river at St, John’s where Mariellen and I do our best to bring the light of music to the rest of the light at Mass. The day was bright, the morning blissfully cool.  Even the old church was cool inside as we entered.  It would not last long.  But, hope, as I have long said, is a Christian virtue.  We weren’t disappointed.  But the short trip home was another  thing entirely.

We live in a condominium development down on the shores of the Merrimack River in Nashua, NH.  We moved about four years ago from the house I moved into back in 1977.  St. Patrick’s Day.  Hip deep snow in the ground, and us landing from Houston where snow is a word only spoken, or sprayed on Christmas Trees, once a year, bizarre things many of them, in all sorts of colors, including pink.

It was getting too much to take care of.  But it was lovely even so.  It was covered outside with gardens, meandering walks and birds by the billion all year long.  Within three months, the new owners had torn up everything but the fringes of grass.  We haven’t been on the street since the day we drove by and saw it.

Now, this is home, and my wife and I are content, sometimes deliriously so.

Mass was over, and we were back home. The sun had not climbed over the trees that rose up like a huge green fence behind us so we took our tea outside on the deck; and moved onto the lawn between us and the small hill leading down to the river when the sun insisted on continuing its journey west.  There we sat and talked about those things which fill the time on days like this; which is to say nothing very much and all of it pleasant.

At one point two neighbors came by with their quiet dog, no more curious than a sleeping child, the dog that is, and wet from its recent romp in the river.  They chatted a while with us: about the weather, about their own flowers and ours, about the condominium and its bothersome board, and the weather once more, before walking down the green way towards home.

We watched them go.  And, then, the tea needed replenishment.  I went in and put the fire on under the water, and began to put last night’s dishes away.  The phone rang, and I picked it up recognizing the number was Margie’s, a delightful friend, now very old, about whom I had been thinking for some days.

Assuming it was her I simply began telling her what was on my mind, my compunction about not visiting in so long a time, and delight she had called; then I heard her daughter’s musical laughter.  She had called to tell me her mother hadn’t been able to get to Mass that morning, and wondered if I would bring her communion.  We quickly made arrangements for that to happen in a half hour or so. I went outside and told Mariellen, then found my Pix, the little gold cup to carry the host to Margie, and drove over to St. Christopher’s.

Mass was just ending as I walked through the little door which would lead me where I wanted to go.  I encountered a young boy being eased to the floor just inside the door and his worried parents looking for some water for him.  It was hot inside this old church, too.  I gave what help I could to the folks who needed it, and payed attention to trying to be as quiet as possible while Father continued.

Soon it was over and as the church emptied I looked for someone to help me get what I needed, finding Jane, a friend who had been assisting at Mass.  She went outside where Father was talking to some parishioners, and got his permission to help me, came back and gave me a host.  While I was waiting for her to return, I greeted a few parishioners I knew and “exchanged pleasantries” as an old friend puts it.  Among them was a fellow I have known for years standing in the aisle watching me, and I walked over to him.

Oddly enough he took a step away from me as I approached.  No welcoming look, no smile opened before me.  So, I stepped closer, said hello and offered my hand.  A second or two passed, and he took my hand.  Then, after hellos, he said that I would never guess where he had been.  I asked where HAD he been.  “I have been with Elizabeth Warren.  And I am going to vote for her,” he replied, now smiling.  There was an almost daring smile on his face, a triumphant look.  “Oh,” I answered, smiling back at him, “that’s good.  “I am not going to vote for her,” I continued, “I am going to vote for the other guy, the racist.”  “He is,” he answered, a kind of grim look coming over him.  “And,” I continued, smiling more broadly now, “that’s because I am a racist, too. ”

I thought that would bring about a subject change, and the whole thing would become a joke.  I was surprised.

“You are,” he replied, grimly, “I know it.  You are a racist.”  He ended by saying, even more grimly, “I mean it.”  I reached out and took his hand in mine, my racist hand, and shook it, and said,”Well, goodbye.” with a racist smile on my face.  He walked away.  After saying hello to one or two more parishioners, I left and continued on my way to Margie’s house.

There I spent a delightful hour on her porch after giving her Jesus for company.  She had no idea I was a racist when I told her, but it didn’t seem to make a difference.  I wondered if she might be a racist too.   You see, during that time, I told her about my being, is the term “outed”?, at church just a while ago.  Both she and her daughter did not seem to think the fellow was right, either in what he said, the venue where he chose to say it, or his mind.

Later that day, I visited a friend at his home for a while. His wife and another friend where there, too.  I confessed my racism before them, whose reaction was the same.  They were quite amazed to learn I had been “outed” as a racist, and where it had taken place.  Nevertheless, I had a lovely time, but needed to go home.  And took my leave, walking to the car in the bright afternoon, wondering.  Why were there no supporting opinions for the fellow in church about my status as a racist?  Is it a serious thing, or isn’t it?

Later that evening, I mentioned the day to my wife and the thing I learned about myself.  While not exactly agreeing with the fellow, she did say that my remarks and comments in person and on such outlets as Facebook might lead someone to conclude that I was that thing, a racist.

It’s all so bloody complicated.


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