The Mercy Seat

Posted: June 6, 2014 in World On The Edge

file000848537366TGIF!  And I mean that sincerely. Besides, Friday is appropriate for this first page of the fifth story in Birds of a Feather. The story is entitled ” The Mercy Seat,”  after an old Protestant hymn some of you may know, or remember. And here is your question and multiple choice answers, after you’ve read the first page.

Who can be a saint? Choose one to put in the comment section

. only the goody goodies

. member of the New Orleans football team

. an innocent child

. everyone

The Mercy Seat

Today is Good Friday. It is my turn with Grandmother. Her gray hair is spread out upon the pillow like roots from an old tree. She lies sleeping in her hospital bed, in a room of clinically accurate monitors, IV poles, and bed rails. To someone looking in, she might seem insignificant, barely separable from the sheets drawn tightly around her like swaddling. Yet she is the most consequential person in my unworthy life. She is church to me, salve for a sinner.

From her window on the second floor, across Bell Street, is a view of the crumbled parking lot where the church used to be; Saint Mary Magdalene,Grandmother’s church, the church of my Catholic family. It was built of white brick on the corner of Main Street back when Main was lined with huge oaks hovering like protective parents over everything below.

In our small town Catholic children were armed with the sacraments and the Catechism, raised to defend the Pope, Confession, and Natural Family Planning. “Defend your church with courage,” Grandmother instructed us, “because the Lord wants you to be a saint.”

Our footfalls behind hers, on the sidewalk after morning Mass, became as one melodic phrase, tapping out yeses for our conductor. Because of her, I kept in line. I didn’t lie, or cheat, or deceive. But that was then. I am not a child anymore.


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