Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WALKING STORIES FROM FR. PAUL SAUERBIER


Fr. Paul Sauerbier, one of the many "random" folks from whom I receive emails, is a Vincentian priest who has established the Prodigal Father Foundation. 

His ministry is to reach out to priests imprisoned for the sexual abuse of minors—whom he calls “the modern-day lepers in our society.”

Read an interview with Fr. Sauerbier in the National Catholic Reporter HERE.


Not long ago he sent me a hard-to-find copy of a book by Caryll Houselander, one of my favorite spiritual writers.

And the other day I rec'd a photocopy of these stories which, being a walker myself, I felt moved, with his permission, to share.

WALKING STORIES

PREFACE




I have lived in my humble half of this duplex for 15 years.
Without any knowledge or intellectual acumen, I happen to have chosen a spot that is one mile west of Home Depot and the Lockwood Branch of the Dallas Public Library and one mile east of the local Post Office, the local grocery store, my Compass Bank, and the Dollar Store.

That is my normal attire but without the cigar, and in wintertime long pants. I've come to realize that the hat and beard are almost like a uniform which is ironic since I have hardly ever worn clericals in the last 15 years.


STORIES

1. So, recently when my intestines were bleeding a bit, scaring me whenever I
went to the john, I called my local gastroenterologist for an appointment
and walked the mile to get to his office. But I did not climb the stairs to his office on the 5th floor. I took the elevator.

In the elevator, some ole man got on behind me. After he punches the button for his floor,
he slowly turns to me and in his gravelly ole man's voice, while pointing at me, says "You
walk faster than I drive!".

I looked at him in amazement then laughed,
then something clicks in my head and
I said to him "Were you the guy in the red
car?" And he says "yea!" At that point we
both got off the elevator at the fifth floor.

2. A couple of years ago I was walking the mile east to the library to pick up some of the books on CD which I had requested so that I could listen to them in the car for my weekend drives, Friday AM to Sunday PM, for my visits.

I'm half way there when some ole man with a cane comes out of his house accompanied by two of his daughters and a few of his grandchildren. I wasn't paying any attention to them and was almost past them when I hear this rickety voice belt out "I want that hat."  I turned and laughingly said "you'll have to chase me for it." Then he replied with "You're a legend around here!"

We all laughed and I continued my way to the library. And "NO"! They didn't offer me a ride!
3.    Last year when it was raining, I drove to
the Post Office, a mile west of my
house, to buy some money orders.
While I was standing in the Post Office, some
middle aged man comes up, stands in front of
me and pointing at me with incredulity and amazement in his voice, says "You have a car!"       Stunned, I looked at him and with mystification responded "Well ..... yeaaa".
He says in explanation
"I didn't think you had a car.
I always see you walking every place."
4.      When I'm in Dallas on a Sunday, I walk
the mile and half to St
. Bernard's
Church for the 11AM Mass, only
because it forces me to walk rather than drive the 3.3 miles to St
. Patrick's
where there is a celebration of the
Liturgy, verses "attending" Mass at St
.
Bernard's which is run by a somewhat
pre-Vatican II Argentinian religious
order wh
ich have the initials IVE.

Just enough people know me that, if at the end of Mass it is raining or there is some extreme of hot or cold, some church lady will ask me if I need a lift home.

With our triple digit heat in the 
summertime, when I arrive at Church, I go to 
the bathroom, take off my hat and dry my hair
with paper towels and re-comb it
. My body
does cool down and by the middle of Mass,
I'm freezing. I keep warm by singing to myself
in prayer for the
Instituto del Verbo Encarnado
"Don't cry for me Argentina, The truth is I never left you, All through my wild days, My mad existence, I kept my promise, Don't keep your distance. I don't sound as good as Madonna who played Evita in the Movie but it warms me up by keeping my mind off how cold the AC is in Church!



3 comments:

  1. Heather, you introduced Father Paul as another "random" individual with whom your correspond, and I couldn't help but to smile, recognizing myself in good company. You know I left the country on the very-intentionally-timed day before the innaurguration, but I returned simply to apply for an Australian Work Visa (it is required I be in my country of citizenship during the application process), and currently find myself off the grid on the Big Island of Hawaii. The visa was granted, and I now only await the selling of my Chevy Impala, which will enable me to purchase a one way ticket to Australia. Point is, without my vehicle, I hitchhike my way around the island. Everyone does. There are days I am picked up immediately, and others I walk significant distances before offered a ride by someone who is either of the desire to help out and make a new friend, or creepily looking for a wife. Wanting two hardboiled eggs and a coffee, I began my walk to a relatively-nearby coffee shop, throwing my thumb into the air for each approaching driver to see. Despite my signaling, I really didn't care for a ride; the formation of a hitchhiker's thumb was more habitual than a plea for assistance. The temperature approached 80-degrees, and the sun shone as I increased the gap between myself and my place of departure, my humble residency. Mantras, peaceful protest songs of the Quakers, and other spiritually-enlivening songs sprung freely from my lips, and I felt a natural smile imprinted on my face. Another two miles were left behind me, and although the journey - up Kaloli Road, past the dumping station / recycling center [a system unique to Hawaii], and across the street from the Kea'au Village Market - is a familiar route, I saw what I hadn't, in the previous weeks, before seen. And by "seen" I mean more than observed visually, but sensed energetically, heard, and even smelled. Rather than being bothered by the ocassional pebble lodging itself between the ball of my foot and my flipflop, and rather than begrudging the rotting palm branches laying across my pathway, I observed the sensation of the lava rock pebble before gracefully moving it, and I looked upward to see where in the palm tree the branch had fallen from. Walking, even when deliberately toward a set destination, can be - and most often is, for me - very much a spiritual practice. The rhythms stabilize my moods, and the varying landscapes of my wilderness or urban journies pull from me a mindfulness I find eventually carries with me long after the walk has ended. I thank you, and Father Paul for sharing stories of your walks. I, again, discover myself in good company.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alicia Rae, you have a book there! I especially like the occasional pebble lodged between your flipflop and your foot...I actually believe walking is a form of resistance--against all that is false, tawdry, and hateful. Instead of barricading ourselves in with an arsenal of weapons and some guard dogs, just waiting for an "alien" to come along so we can shoot them from our porch (and I sometimes see such poor folks on my rambles), we choose to move about the world freely, armed with nothing more than our curiosity, wonder, gratitude and sense of humor. We never know what we might find...

      By the way, my very first car was a Chevy Impala, maroon. 1961, I think. Give my love to the lava and may your path be strewn with palm three branches, seed pods and sparkly pebbles.

      Delete

I WELCOME your comments!!!