Starting Point
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Issue Date:  October 21, 2005

Starting Point


I had wanted all my shy, awkward young people to gather around the altar. I asked them and then prodded them. “Come on, let’s get going, just go on up there.”

Two women my age stood in the back of the church. As the children moved up around the altar, I went over and talked to the women. “It’s great getting older and having nothing to lose,” I whispered. “I don’t have to please anyone. I don’t feel shy or afraid. I just go on and do things now.”

The two women nodded. “What have I got to lose?” I continued. “All anyone can do is complain and not invite me back. I don’t care. It’s not about me, is it? It’s the kids that count.” They nodded in agreement. “It’s the kids,” one repeated.

I joined the children at the altar and urged them to come closer, right around that altar. “I’m not going to bite you, and I took a good shower today.” One of the children laughed.

“Why did I invite you up here?” I asked. “So that we could get blessed,” a young man said.

“Not really,” I replied. “You are the blessing. The Holy Spirit is right with you and with everyone here. You are the blessing.”

“It’s our table,” a young woman said. “Now you’re talking,” I repeated. “Yours, and you better keep it. Don’t let anyone take your table from you or I’ll haunt you, come back from the grave and just make life miserable for you.” They laughed.

Fr. Joseph McGowan is a member of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus.

National Catholic Reporter, October 21, 2005

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