it’s me, Barbara Czernicki.
But of course, You knew that.
Unlike some people here,
You hear from me pretty often.
I bet when Norma Pfeiffer deigns
to show up for Mass,
You say, “Norma who?”
Or those O’Briens.
They always seem to have
five children between the ages
of four and twelve,
no matter how much time passes,
all those children in their soccer uniforms,
if they bother to show up at all,
because little Maddison or Addison
or Aiden or Braden or Jaden
has some kind of soccer tournament
500 miles away,
and back in my day,
none of that nonsense was scheduled
on a Sunday,
but parents these days can’t say no
to anyone, let alone some fanatic coach,
but when they’re here,
I’m sure everyone in a three-pew radius
is just praying for a stiff drink,
all that fidgeting and whining and sighing
and chattering and punching
when their parents aren’t looking,
and their parents are never looking.
You’d think the older ones
would be altar boys or girls by now,
but no, we can’t miss any soccer practice,
and Father Zerbinsky wouldn’t even be able
to give them the smacks on the head
they all so richly deserve.
Of course, Lord,
You see Ben and Diana Tannenbaum sitting there,
right in front of me,
trying so desperately to hold it all together,
and Ben tries to sneak looking at his cell phone
during Mass because he has no respect for You—
is it work he’s obsessed with
or a certain female coworker?
The one he calls his “work wife”
while Diana rolls her eyes—
I can’t tell because Diana nudges his side,
hard, with her elbow,
and he quietly sighs and puts the phone away.
Like a teenager, I swear to You, Lord!
And Lord, I really have to have a talk
with Your servant, Father Zerbinsky.
He’s been having us sing
all the verses of the hymns lately
and has been choosing
the extra-long Eucharistic prayers,
and his sermons have been rambling and—
I’m sorry to say it—
almost political lately,
and that’s not what this parish is all about.
We are devout to You, Lord,
but also efficient,
which is what I imagine pleases You most
with all the long-winded services
You must attend every week,
like the ones with those miserable Slovaks and Greeks.
Father Zerbinsky needs to understand
that just because his predecessor has retired
doesn’t mean Father gets to change everything
and start encouraging teenagers to lead
the Responsorial Psalm with their horrible guitars
and forcing us all to hold hands
during The Lord’s Prayer,
when I’m sure You’d rather these people keep
their grubby little hands to themselves
as this moment of silent prayer,
which has gone on far too long already,
comes to an end,
I just want to thank You
for the gift of patience
You have given me
so that I can suffer my fellow believers.