My priest-friend and I travel to Key West for a long weekend and meet five 20 years old from Pompano Beach who are staying at the same resort. (Being from Milwaukee, I don’t understand why Pompano would go to Key when the weather is good in both places, but be that as it may…)
Later, I’m in the hot tub with my new-five-long-weekend-friends and my priest-friend comes to tell me that he’s off to church (it’s Saturday). I tell him to have fun. The six of us are enjoying ourselves and the conversation soon moves to occupations. I say they’d never guess mine and they don’t when I finally say “Catholic priest.” “Oh, you’re not a priest,” each protests. I say, “How can I prove it, say something in Latin?” The young upstarts just look at me waiting and it occurred to me to question proudly, “I’m the only one in this hot tub who knows what the Immaculate Conception is!”
As my priestly history proved, no one knew. When I tell them what it is the conversation pauses for a moment and then changes as though I’ve said nothing important and I wonder about its importance.
My priest-friend arrives from Mass and we’re still simmering in hot water and good conversation about nothing and everything. He tells me the priest’s sermon was very confusing and the music was awful. I smile to myself which probably was visible as well. I had a great time with folks 40 years younger than me.
My priest-friend and I leave for supper and one of the 20 years old grabs me and says a line I will never forget, “If you enter a bar tonight with a rabbi and minister, you call me.” I howl but did not meet those two that night but I did attend “church” that Saturday with five interesting people in a meaningful and enjoyable way.