Planning for the next Reno Diocesan Synod/ which is hopefully very soon


All steps are subject to guidance and approval of the Bishop and his staff. All steps except step 4 are subject to guidance and approval of the Parish rector and his staff.

Parish Synod is open to all parishioners. All are parishioners and all are free to participate and vote on all issues before the Synod. Synod meets twice each month, on a Saturday, one meeting for those who work on day shift, and one who work on swing shift. Each Saturday constitutes one meeting, regardless of the number of actual meetings.Each Sunday, Parish Synod presents  what it has accomplished to the parish over coffee and doughnuts or other light snacks as appropriate after each Mass. Diocesan Synod budget pays expense.

After each meeting of the Parish Synod, the Parish Synod appoints delegate to a Diocesan monthly meeting to coordinate information and share ideas.

(1) Pastoral Council chairs initial meeting of synod with first order of business being the election of a chair and synod leadership. Parish Synod/ define the Parish as distinct from other parishes in the diocese. This process takes three months or more, with one meeting per month.

(2) Parish Synod/discuss problems. These could include parish budget, parish outreach into the local community, parish influence in the political process, for example that there are 250 Catholic colleges and universities graduating 70,000 students each year, but most Catholics feel there are no candidates to vote for. Politicians are either conservative, ignoring life after birth, or liberal, ignoring life before birth. Most Catholics are uniformed as to the current Catholic understanding of ethics at the local or communal level. Most parishes suffer under the weight of the 80/20 rule. The richest 20% of parishioners, representing the richest 20% of the general population who control 80% of secular wealth, contribute 80% of church revenues. As such, they tend to be over represented in the Pastoral Council, and therefore parish decision making. This process of defining the problem takes three meetings, or more as required.

(3) Parish Synod/ define what a successful Parish synod would be quantifiable and verifiable terms. Define success for the synod in quantifiable and verifiable terms. They define how the Parish will be different after the Synod than before the Synod, in quantifiable and verifiable terms. This takes three meetings or more as required.Parish Synod appoints delegates to the Diocesan Synod.

(4) Diocesan Synod/ Diocese completes first three steps at the diocesan level. Diocesan synod proposes solutions to the Bishop and Diocesan staff. Diocesan Synod defines itself as distinct from other diocese and denominations, being favorable to other denominations. Diocesan Synod meets until the Bishop adjourns the Synod. Synod date is finalized upon completion of the last parish-completing step (3).

(5) Parish Synod/ in light of Diocesan Synod further defines itself in relation to other parishes in the diocese, and other churches close to itself. Develops ecumenical plan for participation with other parishes and local churches. Parish Synod, in light of Diocesan Synod proposes solutions to Parish Rector and Parish Council. Proposes direction for moving forward. This process lasts until Parish Rector adjourns the Synod.

In Reno, we had a discussion with a university professor part 1


In a recent conversation in Reno Nevada, the question came up as to the best university to study. Many schools come across as saying, “St. Thomas Aquinas said it; I believe it; that settles it.” Their way of teaching Hebrew and Greek is the old Grammar Based Approach. We learn to switch the English word “Good,” with the Greek word, “Agathos,” or the Hebrew “Tov.” We learn that it is an adjective and that it goes with nouns. Aside from learning the new sign for the same concept, we learn nothing about the concept.

This is very similar to the protestant, “Scripture says it; I believe it; that settles it.” The problem is that when we really learn the sacred writings, we must first learn who wrote the text, to whom they wrote it, and why they wrote it. The first reference to the Torah as we know it comes in Nehemiah 8, where it says the Nehemiah and Ezra first read it to the community. The politics at that time was very interesting. The exiles were first returning from Babylonia, after the Babylonian Exile. The natives, some who never left, and some who were deported to Eretz Israel from other lands objected to these exiles and their rebuilding the city and temple walls. They felt the pride behind building these walls in the first place caused, first the Assyrians, and then the Babylonians, to trash the place in the first place.

This brings us to the two-audience theory for writing the sacred text, and answering, “To whom they wrote it.” We can only imagine that as the politics of the situation unfolded, some Persian satrap asked the leadership of the returning exiles to prove they were in fact a people. To answer that question, we must first imagine what would happen if the US government collapsed. Say, first Texas, and then the states of the South seceded from the union because of the politics we see today. After a few years, the great fear of the conservatives came true; the ultra orthodox Muslims came and imposed Sharia Law.

This in turn would cause chaos as Christian conservatives fought this. After another couple of decades, the Chinese came in with a more Buddhist understanding and decided to allow the Americans decide upon their own laws. Let us also allow that the liberals are correct in arguing that global warming is the case. After all this time expired, the main cities along the eastern seaboard are now under water. To correct the problem requires building walls around the cities and pumping out the water. After the radical Muslims leave the country, exiles returning from all over the world decided to build these walls and impose a strong central government.

Of course, this leaves us where we started. Conservatives would object to the strong central government to China, and China would ask the Americans to prove they are in fact a nation, a people. We are of course, not one people. We are westerners, New Englanders, Southerners, people of the Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic, among other places. We are African-American, Hispanic, German, Irish, Anglo-Saxon, and more. We are rich, poor, conservative, and liberal. As the leadership meeting in Washington writes the statement of who we are as a people, they must first convince all these disparate groups that we are one nation. The second audience, China, or its officials looking over the process, would see the approval by the people of the document, and agree that we are a nation, or the disapproval, and deny the request to rebuild the walls and historic places of the nation.Image

 

The Bicyble Trip


In 1960, Dwight Eisenhower the founder of the fabulous fifties, “I like Ike,” and the peace that came with it sent an executive order. He ordered the government to run a census of our Washoe Nation. This was the first enrollment, when Grant Sawyer was governor of Nevada. All went to fill out the Census form, each to his hometown.

Bike Riding to Virginia City

Joseph traveled from Truckee California to Virginia City Nevada and the House of Bread. He was of the house and family of our Beloved Ruler and went to enroll with Bee, his fiancée who was pregnant. Joseph stood in the bicycle shop near a ten-speed bicycle the bike shop the bicycle repair tech prepared for travel.

On the back, he added a special bicycle trailer for Terry. Outside the sun rose above the horizon. There was freshness in the air and a feeling of both new beginnings and the knowledge that they were going to break down boundaries as they traveled.

Joseph told Bee, “There is a bit of nip in the air.”

Bee replied, “Just enough to keep the bugs away. The sun is warm enough. It adds freshness to a new day.”

Joseph rode his bicycle, with Terry in tow, south on from Sacramento Avenue, for a third of a mile, until they reached Park Avenue. They put their minds into cruise control mode as they started on the 20 mile trek down State Route 267, to State Route 28.

People greeted them with a cordial “Howdy” as they waved their hands and gave a gentle smile.

They received the cordial “Howdy, hand wave, and smile in return.”

Ten speed bikes tend to be very quiet. Traveling along, they got within just a few yards of a large ground hog as he scampered along in his travels. Squirrels run up to and alongside the silent craft as they travel along, much as dolphins do with the quiet ships at sea.

It was in this hushed silence that Joseph meditated on the universal peace coming to his generation. This generation had been distressed from the leadership of the recent past.

Terry complained, “Do you have to hit every bump on this road?”

Joseph grumbled, “It was that president who forced this trip. Now I have a very pregnant and sensitive wife on a one-hundred and ten mile trip and all she wants to do is complain about every bump in the road.”

Terry also grumbled, “I know pulling a hundred plus pound person has to be no fun, but, riding in this thing is no fun either.”

After the couple turned left and unto Mt. Rose Highway, they passed five or six-mile posts. Joseph observed as two cars were in line to pass Joseph and Bee Terry. The first was a Ford Bronco, and the second a Buick.

The Bronco passed, which caused Joseph to lose his balance and fall into the street. He looked up and saw nothing but tire tread from the Buick that had stopped just in time.

“Learn to give people the space they need, and not the space we think we need,” Terry commented.

On their right was the railroad, which a hundred years before changed Nevada forever.

Joseph reminded Bee, “The trains took our ancestors to the unwanted South Dakota to learn the white man’s ways.”

Bee complained, “Please, watch the bumps!”

Joseph looked up into the sky, focused on a cloud, and grumbled, “Between the bumps in the road, the cars not giving sufficient girth, and this cranky woman, I just don’t know boss.”

Bee grumbled, “I know pulling a hundred plus pound person is no fun…, riding in this is no joy either.”

Joseph and Terry turned south onto State Route 28, and they traveled until they saw a sign, “US 395 20 miles.” As they traveled, they smelled the wet grass smell of the local foliage and the occasional sweet smell from the local ranches that told Joseph and Bee that cattle were nearby.

They stopped and asked a local farmer, an older fellow, “Can you please fill our water jugs. They are very low.”

The farmer informed them, “I’ll have to ask the wife first.”

He entered his house, returned a few minutes later and related, “The wife says OK, but under one condition. You must have dinner with us first.”

The farmer and his wife fed Bee and Joseph a very nice meal and introduced them to their college age children. Bee and Joseph left with their water jugs filled and extra food for their journey.

That evening a nice corvette drove by. Inside were some high school kids out for a good time. Inside the car were a couple of bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 and a large pizza from a local pizzeria. When they saw the bike and carriage, they thought they might have fun. As they drove by Joseph, they threw the pizza out the window, hitting Joseph on the back of the head. It was such great fun. They at least thought so. Joseph and Bee watched them, as they drove by laughing.

As they approached the development near US 395, it was time to start looking for a campsite. They saw a rancher and asked him, “Is it OK if we camp over in that fallow field down by the river.”

The answer came back, “No! You need to get that food cleaned off you, have dinner, and spend the night inside the house. We are a Christian family and we take great pride in the way we treat our guests.”

Imagine the consternation on the face of Bee and Joseph, when they saw the corvette in the driveway.

As they sat down for dinner, Bee could not resist making the comment to the eldest teenage son, “You must like pizza.”

The farmer caught the looks on the faces of not just Bee and Joseph, but on his son’s face as well.

Joseph made a comment, “Drinking must be fun, for those over 21.”

About this time, the rattling of a pot came from the kitchen. The farmer related this to the situation in his mind. The snide comments and the glares were like the lid on the pot. No one dared to remove the lid for fear that the boiling water inside the pot might scald them.

If his guest came out and openly accused his son, they would be ungrateful guests. His son was not in a position to take the lid off the pot. If he did, he opened himself up to the wrath of his father. The farmer did not feel comfortable accusing his son in front of guests and putting his guests on the spot.

The farmer reasoned to himself, “I do not know the facts; I was not there.”

If he picked up the lid, this would force his guests to accuse his son while they were eating his food. He did not know how to broach this directly. The farmer gave his son a stern look, one that said he knew what his father expected him to do, and went to check the boiling water in the kitchen.

While he was gone, the son told Bee and Joseph, “I did something stupid out on the road today. I was just trying to have some fun. Please forgive my extravagance, it is inexcusable.”

As soon as he finished, his father reentered the room. He had turned down the heat of the boiling pot. The farmer took the keys to the pickup and tossed them to his oldest son.

The son went to toss them back when the farmer informed him, “You will need those. I have been hearing many reports recently, about how you have not been too constructive with your time. You need some help in that area.”

The farmer commanded, “The crap needs cleaned out of the barn. You can start tonight. Take it to the composters and give them some turns with the old pitchfork. You’ll need to clean out the truck.”

The boy retorted, “Ah, Pop.”

The farmer rejoined, “Don’t Ah Pop me. When you finish that, your sister needs help with her homework. I will be watching and listening. Do you want me to add more? The post hole digger and that pallet of cement is just looking to be put to use you know.”

The boy took the keys, and put them in his pocket. He was quiet and sullen the rest of the evening.

Joseph just thought to himself, “Even the best are capable of such as this. Harsh punishment just seems to bring out the worst in people later, when the disciplinarian is not around.”

The conversation turned to the perils of the trip, minus food hitting them.

The farmer informed Bee and Joseph, “I am very interested in what kinds of animals are on the way and how many.”

Joseph readily told them, “We saw a ground hog, a skunk, and some beaver and muskrat tracks.”

After the moon rose another foot into the sky, Terry and Joseph sauntered down the hall, stepped into the guest room laid Salvador in a used crib the farmer provided for guests, then laid down, and fell asleep. The following day they awake to the sweet sound of Mr. and Mrs. Finch and the cooing of the rock doves. There was also the sweet smell of cow manure, rows of roses, and the incense of honeysuckle in people’s yards.

As they rode east, Joseph rejoined, “The farmer is a good Christian man who cares for the stranger on the road, but piles crap on his own child, who later throws it at us. We later came and caused it to be thrown back at the poor child.”

Terry added, “Thank goodness that pot gave his child a chance to redeem himself, but when will the cycle ever end?”

Terry looked down at her abdomen and Joseph at the belly of his wife, and exclaimed, “Then!”

It was very early in the morning and the line in the sky had just cleared the horizon, when they saw fawns as they stood in the road. After just a few minutes, a car drove by. As it approached, the driver panicked, slammed on his breaks, lost control of his car, and almost hit the fawns.

The fawns looked at the driver as if to say, “Do you think you own this cleared out area or something?”

They turned their heads away from the car and scampered into the brush.

Joseph thought to himself, “Interesting! We take for granted the concept of a road. We think that a deer of only a year or two years old should know and respect our concept of road. Why, they were here first? In the first chapter of Genesis, it tells us that the mighty judge created man last, not the deer. The fawns were in the road first. They have the better claim.”

Later that morning, a doe looked up as it grazed by the road. Again, a car drove by. This time, the driver did not panic. The driver did slow down, almost to a stop and started to talk to the deer. He waved at the doe. The deer panicked and ran into the brush.

Joseph thought to himself, “This is interesting. The human expects the deer of only a few years of age to understand the concept of talking and waving. She can probably learn these concepts, but she probably thought the humans were roaring like a lion. To her, the wave was not showing the human was unarmed, but rather the showing of claws, that he was armed.”

In fear, the deer ran into the brush. Joseph thought, “The human needs to learn that others see and respond to the world from their experience. Others do not necessarily see, or respond to the world as we see it or respond to it.”

Later, as the sun cleared the horizon, a buck fed by the side of the road. Again, a car drove by. Again, the driver slowed down. This time, he did not stop. He looked the buck in the eye and the buck looked back. They seemed to come to an understanding. The car sped up, continued on its prior direction and left. The buck continued to graze.

Joseph thought, “This is interesting as well. The driver recognized the deer as another of God’s creatures as he drove by, recognized the danger of a collision between the two, and took reasonable precautions. The two recognized each other and as fellow friends of the Mighty Judge, and went about their way.”

It was as they rode down toward the Sierra Summit Shopping Center the couple met a nice man in his early twenties under a Victorian gazebo.

The man commented, “The bicycles will ride better if you oil the chains and made some other minor adjustments.”

Joseph answered, “We got no oil.”

The man replied, “I have plenty.”

He oiled everything and made all the adjustments on the bike and the trailer. When Joseph and Terry left, they found he was right.

After they left the man, they rode several miles with views of leaves and flowers giving ornamentation to the gently gurgling creek on their left. This was symbolic of Nevada the way it used to be before the white man arrived.

As the couple rode further down the hill, Bee asked, “This trip is wearing me out. Do you mind if we stop for a while?”

Joseph replied, “I think that is a great idea.”

The two stopped at a gurgling creek by the side of the road. Bee laid out a picnic basket while Joseph did some fishing down by the creek. They had fish, along with some bread and some wine the farmer provided the couple for later.

After the sun rose another foot toward its zenith, the two were again on the bicycles and traveling down the mountain and toward US 395. They traveled past five more mile-markers and came upon the homes near the shopping center. After traveling another mile, they came to the quaint shops Sierra Summit.

When the couple arrived at the shopping center, Joseph’s eyes drifted toward Martha’s Cafe.

Joseph told Bee, “Maybe we should stop for some good old fashioned coffee and a donut or something.”

They parked the bike and trailer and sauntered up to the front of the restaurant. The oak floors creaked as they walked up to the door. The door squeaked as it opened.

An older, dark complexioned lady noticed them and advised, “It is very cold outside. Yeah need to sit down for a few and get some hot coffee in yeah.”

She went behind the counter and got two hot coffees, with cream and sugar. As they started on their coffee, the waitress counseling in favor of the rhubarb pie, “The special today is the rhubarb pie and coffee; highly recommended. What brings you two to these parts?”

Bee informed her, “Looking for a place to stay up here.”

The waitress requested, “Didn’t catch your name.”

Bee added, “Didn’t offer it, but I am Bee and this is Joseph.”

The waitress looked out the window, and toward construction going on in a park south of town, then remarked, “Wish you luck, with the holidays and all. You look exhausted.”

Terry commented, “When you are in this shape, riding a bicycle twenty miles is a long way.”

The waitress commented, “In your shape, riding twenty feet on a bicycle is a long way. Sorry I have to say it dear, but you have no business riding a bike in this weather and in your shape.”

Terry commented, “There is that regulation the President forced upon us.”

The waitress quipped, “Election coming up. We will remember. I hope the rest of this nation does.”

Joseph commented, “Amen.”

They rode through across the intersection and found themselves on State Route 341. As they looked to their right they saw a gently gurgling stream. Pigeons looked down at them from the telephone poles as they traveled on.

Terry complained, “Please, watch the bumps!”

Joseph grumbled, “Between the bumps in the road, the cars not giving sufficient girth, and this cranky woman, I just don’t know boss.”

Terry also grumbled, “I know pulling a hundred plus pound person has to be no fun, but, riding in this thing is no fun either.”

No sooner, were Terry and Joseph on level pavement again; then they found themselves looking at another steep climb. As they started the ascent, Terry complained, “Watch it!”

Joseph just sighed. Soon they were on leveler ground again, and Terry quipped, “You like my complaining, don’t you?”

Joseph looked up into the sky again.

They soon passed a grove of trees and a clearing.” Sea Gulls came out and greeted them. Joseph stopped for a moment and they watched the birds flying overhead.

Bee also commented as they listened to frogs calling the birds to the lake, “My, the frogs are in tune today.”

Joseph replied, “They are all singing to you my dear.”

Bee retorted in response, “If they are as tired as you, they are about to croak.”

Joseph laughed as he got back on the bicycle and the two continued their travel south. Soon they were at the junction of Loftis Drive.

Bee chirped, “Less than nine miles to go.” Another seven mileposts went by and the couple was south of Five Mile Road.

As they drove near one home, a lady working her garden told Joseph, “You look tired, please stop for some juice and a doughnut.”

Joseph readily agreed. The lady asked, “So how far are you dear,” the lady asked as she looked at Terry.

Terry commented, “Nine months.”

The lady quipped, “It is nuts, pleasure riding that far along.”

Joseph complained, “It is no pleasure trip. We have no funds for regular transport, and the President did order this trip. We are Santee Lakota and he wants us in David City for his census.”

The woman yelled, “Stephen!”

A gentleman dressed in a flannel shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots walked into the room.

The woman told him, “These people have been riding that contraption all day trying to get to Virginia City. Throw it into the truck and get them there.”

He retorted, “Yes dear, and did as required. He drove them to Edith Palmer’s Country Inn, in Virginia City. Stephen dropped them off, and drove back home. He did not notice that the vacancy sign was off.

While they were at Edith Palmer’s Country Inn, the time came for Bee to give birth. She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in a tight blanket, as a cat wraps herself around her kittens. She laid him in a feeding trough in the basement. There was no room for them in the upper-room,[1] where the other guests rented rooms and the local hospital was full.

There were ranch hands in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their herds. The messenger of the Mighty One appeared to them, the radiant importance of Mighty One enlightened everything around them. This struck them with fear.

The messenger told them, “Do not fear. I relate satisfying news of great delight that will be for all the people. Today in the city of the Beloved Chief, the Master Shepherd, a liberator, a young woman just gave birth to your Salvador.”

The messenger added, “He is like Ike in 1945 Germany was to the Jews. He is like Abraham Lincoln to the African Americans in the 1860’s and J. F. K. and Martin Luther King JR. were to the same people in the 1960’s. He is the George Washington of our People. He is the Anointed Leader of our people.”

The messenger related, “This will be your sign; you will find an infant wrapped in the tight wrap of Lakota children and lying in a feeding trough.”

 

Suddenly there was the multitude of the great procession of the sky.

The messengers sang beautiful words about the Mighty One, “The importance of Our Mighty Savior recognize in the highest places. Bring tranquility to earth and good will to all men.”

When the messengers went into the sky, the ranch hands told one another, “Let us go to Virginia City to see this thing that just occurred.”

They quickly went and found Bee and Joseph, with the infant lying in the feeding trough in the Great Land of Eucharist. Seeing this, they told them the message about this child. This amazed everyone it. Bee kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Bee Terry later related these things to Curtis E. Monk and to Tiny who related these things.


[1] The best translation for the Greek word used in the Gospel account for the “Inn” is actually “The upper- room.” This Greek word is the same word used for the upper-room of Jesus last supper.

Charles Liston meets Salvador


CHAPTER 2

Lee Stone opened the door and the sweet smell and the vibrant colors of the cherry blossoms greeted us. Lee Stone looked off dreamily as the song, “Like a Rock,” by Bob Segar transplanted us back to California and the beginning of Salvador. This is the story Lee Stone related to me.

Mt Rose in the fall

I remember the winter cabin near Incline Village Nevada. There I was, a young man, sitting on the front porch. They called me Charles Liston back then. The main light in the living room glowed with the warmth of the fire in the fireplace. I sauntered into the living room and sat in my recliner. My wife, Virginia, sat in her back room meditating on her rosary as I meditated on my favorite song, “I am a Rock,” by Paul Simon.

When Virginia finished her rosary, she came out and began this angry discussion. “You need to stop feeling so sorry for yourself and meditate on the rosary. You are a successful hotshot with the Nevada Fish and Game.”

I put my part into the discussion with the words of Billy Joel, “Only the Good Die Young, “Come out Virginia, Don’t let me wait. You Catholic girls start much too late but sooner or later it comes down to fate. I might as well be the one.”

Virginia argued back, “I might as well be the one what? My Catholic faith is the ultimate reality. I am not late to anything!”

I retorted, “They showed you a statue and told you to pray. They built you a temple and locked you away. They never told you the price that you pay for the things that you might have done.”

Virginia fought back, “I pray to God and he does what I ask. I am not some bird in a cage. I choose to spend my time with God and not in the secular world.”

I asked, “Does your mother say a prayer for me?”

Virginia Liston gave the information, “There is an eccentric man in Sacramento who is the son of a deacon there, I want you to meet. He is not like the others. He spends most of his time out of doors, goes fishing, and hangs out with the working class folk. Go talk with him and see what he says.”

I said, “Done!”

I was talking with Curtis E. John by Christmas. First, I must tell you that before I arrived at the Folsom Lake on the American River I met some conservatives passing out pamphlets.

One person from their group came up informing me, “We are from the tea party up the street. Take a pamphlet; help stamp out abortion once and forever.”

I gave my opinion, “Where do you stand on the living wage and the right of all people to live life to its fullest in dignity?”

The man from the tea party presented his view, “We can’t stand up for all issues. I see you are passionate about yours. Join us in ours.”

I retorted, “We are a minority in support of our issue and need your help.”

The man argued, “We can’t stop abortion until people stop making excuses and join our cause.”

I chirped, “You say it well. We are each a minority. Neither of us can accomplish our goals as long as the other insists on making excuses for not participating. Let me know when you are ready for a true pro-life stand.”

I turned and faced them, “Let me know when you support a pro-life stand that begins at conception and ends at natural death. Let me know when you agree that true life is life lived to its fullest. Let me know when you agree that pro-life means pro-life for all people and not just a couple of rich guys from Texas.”

As we strode away, Curtis E. John told me, “There is no need to talk with that kind. They already have all the answers. They do not need to listen to the views, and the pains of others. They already have their solutions.”

I sighed as I thought, “You cannot hope to convert them to your way of thinking; you don’t want to give up your salvation by being converted to theirs. They bear the seeds of their destruction. There is nothing to do, but walk away and leave them to their own end.”

I must tell you that I was one argumentative cuss.

The first words out of my mouth when I met Curtis prove my point, “Just how is hiding in dark churches going to prepare me for a life in the light of Almighty God?”

Curtis just looked at the scenery around us and gave his view, “Look around. Are you in some darkened church?”

We were standing by Folsom Lake on a cold December day and it was very sunny.

 

Curtis continued, “Mass is a fancy Latin word and it means departure; in the Latin it ends with Mitte est. Go now to love and serve God. We, the people, you and I, are the Bride-of-Christ.”

Curtis looked at a young couple nearby, “Look at that couple and the park bench they sit on. Think of the pews at Mass.”

We were to meet that couple again. I noticed she wore a name badge from the place she worked at. It read “Anna Lynn.”

Curtis continued, “Mass is the romantic place where we learn about how God has reached out, touching us, the Bride-of-Christ. It is also about how we respond.”

Curtis looked at me. “You are right. If Mass is not romantic, we are not doing our part in presenting the groom, the Mighty Judge, to the people.”

 

By Easter, I was a regular at the outdoor meetings of this nice man named Curtis. Half a dozen moons came and went and summer arrived. With it came the High Holy Days, starting with the feast of Christ the King. I meandered down a long lonely highway, more into myself than what was coming out of the mouth of Curtis.

I thought about another image of my youth. It was a bright and beautiful fall day. That’s was me again, a young vibrant man, hiking down a long lonely road in the late afternoon on Highway 6. It is lovely near Folsom, California.

Just ahead, was my dog, Sam, running up and down the road, trying to get me to throw sticks for him to chase and taking time to smell the purple flowers.

I told myself, “This is communion, being in communion with God and nature.”

In my hand was a large piece of paper, a seemingly unused target, except for where a member of the staff stapled it to a board. There was the singing of the birds and there were frogs in the pond that seemed to be keeping time with the Tommy James song, “Draggin’ the Line.” There was a cross in the road. Coming from the main road, Natoma Street, was a very charitable and kind man, the cousin of Salvador.

As we hiked down the road, we must have been a sight; one of us had hair, old and gray. The other with blazing red hair resembled the fire of the late afternoon sun. One had cool green eyes that reminded one of a Nevada meadow. They gave warmth that never seemed to burn.

The other man, me, had warm eyes, those of a cat who had just found and lost its mouse, his dinner for the day. The personality of the older man, charitable and kind, came out in the way he moved down the road and held himself erect, as well as in the quiet smile upon his face.

He looked at me and the troubled look on my face seemed to talk on its own, “We are the wheat of the field. We are here today and gone tomorrow. We are the breath of the wind in the clear blue sky.”

Curtis added, “A Greater breath exists, one that lasts forever, a Mighty One who controls everything. We are like the grass, here, but for a very short time. We are like the frogs and the birds, the ants and the worms, and we are loved.”