“We made pretty good time, but it’s more crowded than last week.”
“That’s probably because they know it’s the young priest. People are tired of the old one’s mumbling. They like the young one better.”
I listen from the back seat as my dad cranks the wheel and flash back through the thousand or so times I’ve experienced this pre-mass maneuver with the two of them in front of me. Remember the big lot up on the hill back home. The enemy wind that tore chapel veils from little girls’ heads in the 60s and destroyed teenage Farrah-dos in the 70s. The jabbing mass of arms and legs that descended gang-like from the family car and wrestled itself into the open back pew that was ours. I imagine all of us through all the years doing this because of these two people in the front seat and I’m happy we’re doing this, the three of us today at Our Lady of Joy in Cave Creek.
When mass is ended (go in peace) and we’re making our exit, I say, “I hope that wasn’t the young priest.”
“Oh no, that’s the old one,” she confirms. “The young ones are really in demand. It’s a big problem, getting priests these days.”
“You know what they should do, don’t you? They should recruit prisoners, give them early release for taking vows. That’s a way to solve two problems.”
“Oh my God, mother.”
“What else do you propose?” asks my dad. “Vestments over orange jumpsuits?”
I pile on, “ankle chain processions? Hand-cuffed offertories?”
Laughing with us, she shoots back, just a tiny bit defeated, “well it’s not that stupid, it’s worked really well for cleaning up the sides of the road here.”
There’s a part of me that connects the dots in this fashion from time to time too. It’s a comfort to know where it came from.