Monday, April 12, 2010

In a Child's Eyes

What's heaven like? The closest I've come to it was in the eyes of a 3 year old with a passion for choo-choo trains. Little trains, like miniature Thomas; big ones, like the old retiree (shown here) resting trackside at the Martinez (CA) Amtrak Station.

At my grandson's command, I hoisted him onto my lap and displayed his favorite snapshot on my wide-screen monitor.

"Can that choo-choo go on the tracks?" I asked.

"No!" He delivered his line with the enthusiasm of a child actor in a Cheerios commercial.

"And why not?"

"Too old, too tired." Together we exhaled a compassionate sigh for this once-proud locomotive that now can only watch and reminisce, as younger models race by. 

Recently, we lucky grandparents had our little guy to ourselves for two whole days. What better way to spend this time than by treating him to his first ride on a real train and a visit to the Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento? On the day before our adventure, he and I went to the station to buy our tickets. 

"Why do we need a ticket?" I asked.

No script for this dialogue, but several prompts later he got it. "No ticket, no choo-choo ride." 

In our short time at the station, an eastbound Capitol Corridor train roared in, whistles blasting, guard gates clanging as they fell. When it stopped, the engineer leaned out of the cab and waved. At first, my grandson couldn't believe the gesture was directed at him. How could such an important man--one with power to tame this mammoth beast--be waving at me? Slowly, his little arm rose and waved back.

The next morning, a silver giant's doors slid open to receive a wide-eyed little boy and two excited grandparents. For the next hour, our little traveler pressed his nose to the window, in awe of every sight that we considered ordinary--the Martinez-Benicia Bridge and the brown Carquinez Straits current lapping at its pylons, empty Solano County fields, and a ho-hum stretch of the Sacramento Valley. 

I envied my grandson's vision of the wonders to which I had become blind. I felt moved by the depth of his contemplation of the miracles of nature and human invention.  I resolved then and there to view  the world that day--and after--through his eyes.

(c) 2010 by Alfred J. Garrotto
All rights reserved


Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Prayer for Renewal of the Roman Catholic Church

Lord Jesus, I lift my saddened spirit to you in humility and faith—also in great hope and trust that your Spirit is guiding my beloved Roman Catholic Church. I believe this, even as the fires of the sex abuse scandal lick around the feet of Pope Benedict XVI.

Lord, bring the triumphalism of our pope and hierarchy to its knees. Let the secrecy and protectionism that shroud your Good News and saving mission in the world end. Give light to our Holiness, Eminences, and Excellencies who have lost their way. Turn their inevitable humiliation into a grace that will purify our defective Church and heal it of its sins. May your gospel no longer be muddied by holy, but empty, words that coddle scandalous behavior in preference to virtue and fidelity. For only by acknowledging their current blindness can our leaders return to their apostolic roots and restore the Body of Christ to full health and vigor.

Lord, inspire our Holy Father to take responsibility for the current rebuke and ridicule that has fallen on our heads. Let him declare a period of “Universal Repentance,” as the King of Nineveh did, when the humbled prophet Jonah called for confession and reparation. And from the sackcloth of this top-down admission of guilt, raise up a newly baptized and cleansed Church to bask in the glory of your divine Light.

Finally, let the renewal for which I pray begin in me. I make this earnest prayer with confidence in the guiding presence of your most Holy Spirit. Amen.