I start with a photo of cookies.
They weren’t very good cookies; waaaay too sweet. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. In general the sweet and, in other matters, the sentimental aren’t my first choice. Never have been. As I get older, and I won’t commit to this, I may be developing the tiniest mawkish corner in my beady black heart, which in general has been as cold as a frog on a mountain. After all, I’m conservative, decidedly not a democrat, and I want traditional Latin liturgy back.
This morning, I awoke with a terrible start, as I did yesterday as well.
I was in one of those odd close-to-waking dream states. Things were going along as normal: we were being invaded by the Chinese. You know, the usual dystopian scenario. Then, as I was driving in the dream, a little boy ran into view from the left, looking the other direction, directly in front of my car. That’s when I literally jolted awake.
A couple days back, I went to a local rectory to meet with a few priests for lunch. One of them was just ordained, a few weeks ago. He told us that he had just had a funeral for a 5 year old boy who had been killed by a simply dreadful car neighborhood accident. As it turns out, this little boy had gained the attention of the local police chief, a devout Catholic. At an annual gathering of cops and firefighters, as most of the kids climbed over the big rigs, one little 5 year old boy was in a police uniform: he wanted to be a cop, which tugged at the chief’s heartstring a bit. Here’s are a couple of photos, for the sake of your heartstrings.
As it turns out, this was the same little guy who was killed in the horrid accident, a neighbor backing up his car.
The boy’s parents wrote a note to poor driver, saying that he shouldn’t let his life be ruined by what happened.
The police department provided their full honor guard at the funeral.
What an intersection of experiences of the human condition.
At five, I assume that he hadn’t yet made his first confession and received the Eucharist, but he was baptized, thanks be to God. He was already oriented to the good, true and beautiful in service to others, however childlike and idealized it may have been at his age. There three types of people in the main: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. I think I know which he was.
It is probable that a combination of factors let this particular experience get under my skin. I remember being five, clearly. I ran a lot. I grew up surrounded by cops. As a priest, I’ve dealt with people who’ve lost children in terrible circumstances, one similar to this but in some respects more… frantic.
Learning about the origin of that cookie and hearing that this brand spankin’ new priest had to handle that funeral, and knowing that the cops turned out … got to me. As I now write, it gets to me.
Law enforcement and the sacraments of the Church both exist because of Original Sin.
In the tangle of our minds and with the help of others, the teaching of the Church and the light of grace, we have to deal with the vicissitudes and sorrows of this life, which “come not single spies, but in battalions.”
A lesson to take from all of this might be the following.
As alluring as the things of this world are, and as wonderful as these other images of God in our lives are, we must carefully guard the throne of our heart first and foremost for God alone. With God on that throne, we can love others in the right way, make any sacrifices that are needed, and even bear the losses that would otherwise break us to pieces. In this earthly life, in this vale of tears, all created things, including the people in our lives, can be lost in the blink of any eye. God alone is lasting and unwavering and sure. Clinging to Him will bring us to eternal reunion with those whom we have lost in this life, please God.
The cookie that was too sweet was from the boy’s funeral luncheon.