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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stopped by today, unannounced

St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church
It was a cold, quiet Sunday in Newton, Massachusetts and the alarm clocks were not set this morning, because the kids needed some sleep. Despite that fact, and the fact I was sleeping soundly, my beautiful wife awoke on-time and she nudged me at about 8:25 am eastern standard time. At Midnight or so, she had been summoned by a different kind of alarm, a bad dream call to arms for "Mommy," from our littlest one.

My wife performed her motherly duties, thankfully, while I slept and all was good and peaceful in a warm household in bucolic New England. It is Sunday morning, and Clare knew I wanted to be out the door at 8:50am. I had to stop by and see an old friend who I hadn't seen in a while and the eta was 9:00am. Since the kids needed some sleep, they would make their own visit to see this friend on Sunday evening.  I needed to go visit today and as soon as possible. In fact, I had hoped to head over for a quick 'hello' on Friday evening. That didn't work out.

This summer, I had stopped by to see this old friend a few times, unannounced of course.  The door was always open, said he. It was.

Funny, I've known this friend on a first name basis since first grade. I was so proud to be a Kindergarten graduate from Genevieve Gallow School, but I set off, across the tracks, as they say, to Grammar School in my friend's blacktop backyard. Back then, the school was packed with kids - Grades 1-8, but in recent years, my buddy had to close the doors on my grammar school as the finances no longer added up.

I was lucky, though, as my timing allowed me to graduate from my friend's school-yard at 30 East Cherry Street and head off to the big time, a school run by my buddy's friends and he has friends all over my native Long Island and all the rest of the world, too.  After the first encounters as a little one myself, I really got to know this guy when I was lucky enough to keep the kinship flowing while I attended Holy Trinity HS, then later at St. John's University.  

My buddy was always there at the big events. From graduations, to weddings, to terrible days where he guided us through prayer vigils and, eventually, funerals, my guy was always right there.  In fact, looking back to my days as a newborn, my bud even threw me my first pool party, but he called it something else.

Two days stand out from the years gone by, and on both those days, my buddy came out of nowhere to be there for me and for Clare.  One day, came upon the day my wife learned of her grandfather's death. She was so sad, and she needed some solace. It came naturally, at a little West Village sublet that my guy had established.

Later, on 9-11-01, I sought my buddy's advice, too. Clare stated it clearly and decisively, "Let's Go."

The atmosphere provided is calm and simple. Sometimes, it's totally quiet and empty while other times, like this morning, it was packed.

I wondered why I tend to drift and allow so much time between visits, because, like good family members, my buddy throws a nice brunch and after events refreshments every week he holds forth. And, that's not to mention the "supper" he provides every Sunday, just like my older brother does with his friends and their immediate families each weekend.

The truth of the matter, is the site of the meeting never really matters, as my buddy is fortunate enough to have places all over. The fact is - when I need him, he's there and he gathers the right (small) group so we can be together.

To be together is times of joy and in times of sorrow. And, to find some peace of mind through the experience of being together, although my guy throws a serious party with some simple dishes of bread and wine.

My only trouble today, was when one of my guy's frontman, right in the middle of the gathering, stated the term, "Thy Will Be Done."  That line has always bothered me and it bothered me again today. But, as I understand it, my guy likes to read some mysteries and those mysteries aren't your garden-variety 10pm network drama mysteries nor are they the P.D. James or Michael Connelly type. They are true mysteries of faith. And, we'll never have the answers or the spine-tingling ending to read.

I found some peace of mind this morning and it prepared me for a better day, a better day that came today. My buddy helped me find strength and he helped me gather that strength so I could step up to guide my family. And funny, my guy encouraged me to "Get Ready for some Football," too, stating that is wasn't just okay to try to get back to life, but, it was mandatory. 

He was right.

I took that advice, stopped at DD in Wellesley and headed home to start a little fire in the fireplace and to rejoin my family.

My buddy helped a lot.  I think I'll be sure to visit him much more regularly, as he helped me gather my strength, re-affirm my faith in God and in mankind, all in one fell swoop.  My guy said, "the doors are always open," as he shook my hand and sent me off on my way home, down the steps, past the manger and out to the streets of Massachusetts.

My guy has hailed from St. Ignatius Loyola in Hicksville, Holy Trinity HS, also in Hicksville, then at St. John's University in Jamaica, NY, then at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on W71st in NYC, then St. Joseph's of Yorkville on E87th, to Sacred Heart in Newton Centre to St. Ignatius Loyola in Chestnut Hill to St. John the Evangelist in nearby Wellesley. 

My guy. He helped me a lot today.  I know I won't be a stranger anymore.

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