Like most pastor's families, we moved a number of times during my childhood. By the time I began second grade, we were living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Lincoln Elementary was an old building, the kind that is cold and drafty, with interesting nooks and crannies, old timey hooks for coats in the side rooms and wood accents that reveal traces of the thousands upon thousands of children who had passed through the doors.
The playground was boring. Monkey bars. Swings. A field for kickball. I suppose that is why I spent any time at all taking note of the neighborhood beyond the Lincoln grounds. Across the street, there was a Catholic elementary. I was fascinated by the children who played there. They wore uniforms and the teachers who did playground duty at that school were nuns dressed in full habit.
It was the first time I realized that there were Christian schools. It mystified me. I was the daughter of a preacher. I couldn't understand why my parents wouldn't send me to that school. Everything we did was Christian. Yet, we went to a public school when there was a Christian school just yards away.
That year, I learned that the Christian world is not united. We were Christian. Our entire lives were defined by our Christian identity.
But this was where it ended. We did not identify ourselves with Catholic Christians.
On this, the third day of the first week of Advent, I pray for Fr. Everett Hemann and St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. May those who are not Catholic - yet live near this parish - see the light of the St. Patrick's laity lived out in the community. And may the Holy Spirit bring about many conversions through their faithful witness, with that same divine breath that came upon a young Jewish girl in Nazareth.Blessed third day of the first week.