The other world comes to my parish because its the end of the world

dog among the pandas

The dog among the pandas is immediately, unmistakably recognizable. Right?

There are those who live in the day to day world, a surreal world unknown to be such by those who dwell there but known to be that way by those of the other world.

Then there are those who live in what they call the real world though they know that their other world is more surreal than the supposed real world of the day to day world.

We have a lot of day to day people in the parish. I like that. They do what they need to do to get through life and be on their way to heaven, come hell or high water, with all the sickness and death and drama and joys and sorrows that we all know. Good.

Because the parish is so very tiny, anyone from the other world stands out. All such individuals try to hide, but to no avail. If they were just newbies or those passing through from some other day to day world, they wouldn’t stand out. We would just notice some new faces and invite them to the social after Mass as always. No biggie.

But those who are, instead, from the other world stand out because they try to hide. They know they are different. They would like nothing more than just to be another soul in the day to day world, longing for this. They try too hard. Who are they you ask?

The parish is at the end of the world. There are lots of ends of the world in the world. They are all crazy places, like the end of Cape Cod, or Key West, or San Francisco. But here we have an out of the way place which isn’t crazy. Just day to day. And that’s what attracts those from the other world who are trying to hide without all the craziness. If only they didn’t try so very hard they would be alright.

  • There are high-value witness protection beneficiaries with escort.
  • There are those retiring out from specialized intelligence operations with escort.
  • There are those from the Department of Justice and other such agencies and companies just taking the scenic route between northeast VA and D.C. and, say, Atlanta.

You can always but always pick them out. It’s like seeing a liberal Catholic nun out of her religious habit. They never know how to dress. They always look odd.

  • The women come in wigs and big sunglasses, always with an escort who is obviously tied to them but is obviously not family, sitting elsewhere but nearby, always within line of sight, always in a pew directly across an isle. The women look totally spooked, totally shattered, totally in a different universe. One woman said to me: “They know that I have the right to practice my religion, to go to Mass.”
  • I’ve only once come across a man who had a handler, who, as always, was obviously tied to the guy but was obviously not family, sitting elsewhere but nearby, within line of sight in a pew directly across an isle. The two came in and exited thirty seconds apart. After Mass the one guy started talking with me about what was happening with him, on his way from a stint as an expert of assistance in GTMO. He was totally shattered. Totally devastated. He soooo just wanted to be in the day to day world once again. Then his CIA handler came out and heard what he was saying to me. What ensued was not a good scene, not a good scene at all.
  • Then there are the others just on their way to somewhere else, but still trying way too hard not to be noticed. It is almost comical with them. It’s like a uniform: jeans, but pressed, with creases, a button down shirt and a sport coat to hide the “carry,” a five day beard. Just too perfect in their slumming. No one does that. But them.

The first time I noticed anything like this was 25 years ago in a tiny parish church belonging to the Archdiocese of New York, but way up in northernmost reaches of the Archdiocese. Four men I’ve never seen previously came in together, all about forty years old, all sharply dressed with their sport jackets in the summer. There were only like eight others for the daily Mass so they could have sat anywhere together. But no. They chose a pew toward the back, as always, and spread out right across the the church. They were typical FBI, as described above (always the same, like Mormon missionaries!), but, as I was soon to find out, they were pretending to belong to the Moonies cult that had their largest institution in North America just down the road from the rectory (an old Christian Brothers School). They came to Mass a few times always in the same fashion, and then one day introduced themselves to me, inviting me to go to Russia as their special envoy, working with Moscow, but right across Russia, to adjust their policies on the exercise of religion. I told them how much I had tried to bring an end to the Moonies in that little town, but they tried hard not to let that phase them. They said that this was different. They wouldn’t take no for an answer. This went on for months, once every couple of weeks or so. Finally they gave up. But forever after that, I noticed special visitors trying not to be noticed, at least until they might introduce themselves with their otherworldly stories.

Some don’t introduce themselves, of course. They especially look to be trying way, way, way too hard not to be noticed. There was one lady recently for whom my heart broke. She had the usual wig and over-sized but not too dark sunglasses. She had an ever so typical handler. But it was the look on her face. Oh my. It’s like a Nazgûl Ringwraith sucked her soul right out of her. I prayed for her. People go through an unbelievable amount of hell in this world and they are really from this world and so desperately want to be in a day to day world but feel stuck in another world, unrelatable to the day to day world, not knowing which one is surreal, in a maelstrom of confusion. Sometimes it’s just all too much.

You would think that it’s so bad that in that other world we could crucify the Son of the Living God.

pieta

But we’ve done that in our own day to day world. Get it?

We disguise ourselves even to ourselves to pretend we are of the day to day world when instead we are from that other world. Yep.

When will we stop running?

11 Comments

Filed under Intelligence Community, Missionaries of Mercy

11 responses to “The other world comes to my parish because its the end of the world

  1. sanfelipe007

    Hooray, I found the dog. Now I can read the whole thing.

  2. sanfelipe007

    O.K. not what I was expecting. Prolly a good thing. Either you are playing “the man who knew too much,” or maybe you just want the “other-worlders” to settle down a bit. Maybe a little of both.

    There is quite a bit of situational awareness going on – maybe always will be.

  3. Father George David Byers

    @ sanfelipe – or you’re supposed to look in Mary’s eyes…

  4. Nan

    When you say “liberal Catholic nun without her religous habit” do you mean one wearing something other than a polyester pantsuit? Because they all have short hair and polyester pantsuits. The ones who aren’t liberal are half their age and wear habits.

    My parish anyone would stick out like a sore thumb if they’re a visitor. Father has been praying for someone from the neigborhood to come to church. One guy did; he saw the lights on and came in at the end of the prayer group one evening. He came to the liturgy on Wed, drunk.

  5. Father George David Byers

    Probably saved his life. Alcohol and cold don’t go together.

  6. sanfelipe007

    Looking into Mary’s eyes, that is. Father is also right about alcohol and the cold. There a re plenty of stories about members of climbing teams attempting Everest who froze to death (over night) in the same conditions as the rest of their team who did not drink alcohol.

  7. Aussie Mum

    @ Pelerin, I haven’t seen nuns in pantsuits here either. Around my way, nuns who don’t wear their habit any longer are usually in a plain navy blue or grey skirt and cardigan or jacket. And yes, all their hair styles are the same: grey and very short.

  8. sanfelipe007

    Quite right, Father, quite right.

  9. pelerin

    Your description of liberal nuns looking odd made me smile. They dropped their habits and yet ended up looking the same in their choice of clothes. Easily spotted with same hair, same white blouse, same navy cardigan and same navy skirt. They appeared to swap one habit for another. (In England at least I have never seen one in a pantsuit which I understand forms part of the ‘uniform’ in the US)

  10. Aussie Mum

    @ Elizdelphi, I didn’t see the dog at first either. He is at the top, to the right of centre. Look for a rounded rather than semi-circular shaped nose.

  11. elizdelphi

    going to go blind if I stare at the pandas anymore. No dog!

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