in church and I was little, squirming in the polished pews, my baby brother crawling under the seats, popping up like a prairie dog between the other church-goers' feet, the irritated sighs and judgmental whispers, and no one in my pew capable of fixing the situation. Embarrassed, I stalked outside and did flips on the metal railing by the rectory until a priest caught me and asked why I was skipping mass,
but how could I verbalize back then my shame? For my brother who was too young to feel it. For my parents who were old enough but didn't seem to feel it either. And who else was going to take on the feeling but me, and what an expert I became at that. Regardless,
it wasn't a good reason to miss mass, so the priest led me back inside the church, and that was double the shame. Triple. Quadruple. The mortification blooming, swelling, replicating like a virus. Be kind to them, he told me. Forgive them.
I did. I did. Still, sometimes I wish he'd said be kind to yourself too, for you are also worthy of forgiveness. That lesson took half a lifetime to learn and it didn't happen in church. This morning
the two newborn mourning doves in the nest on the back porch bob their small heads, their parents, good parents, close by and mindful. My husband coos at them, and after a beat, they coo back. God only knows what they are saying, but isn't it lovely, the song.