Sunday with Julian

She consoles me as I meditate
before Mass—Julian of Norwich,
that is, who says, “We are clothed,
wrapped in the goodness of God.”

And she consoles me after Mass
when I drive home to the friary and
pass two prostitutes who are sitting
on folding chairs next to the curb
helping each other with makeup.

And that evening, too, when I go
to Frisch’s for a Big Boy and fries,
and a boy’s talking to his girlfriend
in the booth next to mine—talking
and talking—and his girlfriend’s
eyes say she just wants to hold him
and quiet him—and he keeps talking
and her eyes keep trying to say,
Let’s leave.
And when I leave, he’s
still talking, “You know what I’m
saying?” and she’s still trying to
subtly persuade him they should
leave and then I’m walking behind
a middle-age man, a son helping
his older mother to the car, and ahead
an older man’s walking with his pregnant
teen-age wife and she’s smiling as he
talks and eats an ice cream cone and I
think, the Mass still isn’t over.

And as I get into the car, Julian’s in
my thoughts again and I say to myself,
They’re all clothed in the goodness
of God—and I’m about to drive away
when a prostitute, tattooed abundantly,
comes to my open window and asks,
“Do you have a lighter I could borrow
from you?” and I say, “No, but I can
give you some matches” and she says,
“I don’t do matches,” and I’m wondering
is there a code here I’m not aware of? And
she says, “Hey, you’re the guy who didn’t
give me a ride earlier, aren’t you?” and
of course I was and didn’t, fearing what
it might look like, forgetting Julian, and
she says, “I said to myself, Okay, I like
the jerk anyway,” and walks away.

And then I drive away and it’s twilight
and I’m left with memories of this day
and I think, Yes, Julian, we are wrapped
in God’s goodness, and yes, the Mass
begins when it ends. And when I get
home, I pick up Julian and she says,
“Mother Jesus leads us into his blessed
breast through his open side, and there
gives us a glimpse of the Godhead and
heavenly joy … ” The Mass begins.

Murray Bodo is a Franciscan friar, author, and
visiting professor in the Franciscan Institute at
St. Bonaventure University in New York.

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