Wanna Be in That Number?

Posted: September 11, 2014 in World On The Edge


If you were asked the question: Who can be a saint?  Which of these would you choose?

. only the goody goodies?

. member of the New Orleans football team?

. an innocent child?

. everyone?

This is the first page of a story  entitled ” The Mercy Seat,” after an old Protestant hymn some of you may know, or remember.  It is the fifth of ten stories in Birds of a Feather. Click on the cover to order the book.

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.

  1. Looking forward to “The Mercy Seat,” especially after this intro and perfect teaser.
    I’ve read the first two stories in the book. I appreciate your succinct style, command of the language, the poetic flow, the fact that the characters are human, not idealized versions of humans. They have their foibles and do the best they can – like real people. What a find and a keeper!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s