Dear Jim,

What a great week off. I haven’t worked since Tuesday. Each day I’ve been outside over four hours reading, writing, and walking. I feel healthy doing that.

Before my holiday, I worried about how I would make use of the time. I looked up an outdoor walk commemorating the Stations of the Cross for Good Friday. I participated five years ago, but did not see any notices for it for this year.

I thought I should go to the Holy Thursday service, or three hours on Good Friday, or a sorrowful music performance on Good Friday night, or communion on Holy Saturday, or Mass today. With so much free time and extra energy, I ”should do something” to honor Easter, worship God, thank Jesus.

But I didn’t want to. On Palm Sunday I felt a change of mood. I felt solemn. I told dad I was feeling the Easter spirit.

I put the clock radio in the drawer. I didn’t listen to my other radio. I didn’t worry about getting things done.

I didn’t go to any of the Holy Week rituals because I didn’t want to be inside and I didn’t want to put money in the collection basket. The main reasons are I don’t think Catholics take their faith seriously. They want to ooo! and ahhhh! on Good Friday as the huge lightweight cross is passed from the people in the front pews to the people in the back pews. ”Aren’t we progressive?”

It is really very phony. When did that shit start? I’ll have to ask dad but he probably won’t remember.

I feel lonelier at church than I do anywhere else. To sit through one of the long rituals would have killed me: ”I don’t know these people. They aren’t my friends. There is nothing to talk about. I don’t want to see people I know from other places and don’t like.”

On Friday I said Happy Easter to the cashier at the grocery store. She appreciated it. She said ”Happy Easter to you too.” Our exchange meant more to me than attending all the Holy Week ceremonies and Easter Mass would have.

The Good Friday walk I mentioned at the beginning of the letter. When I was volunteering at a church, one of my co-volunteers encouraged me to take the walk. She wasn’t physically able to do it.

I arrived at the place it started at least fifteen minutes early. The musicians were rehearsing. During a lull I asked them if this was the Good Friday walk. They said yes, but they were not warm. Nobody said ”Glad you could make it.” Nobody smiled. They looked at me as if I were less than.

So I sat on a picnic table until the walk started. The leader and an important priest were there talking. They had an attitude of self-importance. I was looking for reverence.

The walk was a struggle. We stopped for every station. Whenever we stopped I wanted to sit down, but it would not have been appropriate.

It was warm in the sun. Cool in the shade. I kept taking off my ski cap to put on my sun hat, and I kept taking off my sun hat to put on my ski cap. In the sun I stood in the shade of a telephone pole or street lamp.

Finally the walk ended. I ran into the woman I volunteered with. She had driven down to say hello to people.

As we were talking, she saw the leader of the walk coming toward us. She said ”Oh! I’ll introduce you guys.”

After they said hello to each other, she said ”So-and-so, this is David Vaszko. We volunteer together at one of the parishes.”

He says, ”Oh, weren’t you the one who kept putting his hat on and off? That was odd.”

”Yeah. That was me.”

”Don’t you walk by my office every day? You look familiar.”

”I walk all over.”

But he didn’t tell me where his office was or what its’ name was.

Then someone he knew came up to him. He said ”Excuse me,” then talked to the guy. I wanted to leave but didn’t want to be rude, so I waited.

Then he turned to me and said, ”I’ve got to go to breakfast with my friends.” He didn’t invite me. ”I hope you come on the walk next year.” But he didn’t say ”We’re always looking for volunteers.”

I thought ”No way in fucking hell am I going on the walk next year with you snobs.” He talked down to me. He should have invited me to breakfast and encouraged me to volunteer with the group.

On the way home I thought that guys like him are why people leave The Church, and why so many who try to return to The Church say fuck it. He wasn’t warm, respectful, diplomatic, or Christian. He was just a busy-body.

I never told the woman what I felt about him. They were close and she and I had a good relationship. I wanted to tell her he talked down to me but I’m glad I didn’t. She was really good to me – always encouraging me to do more in the parish because she respected me and knew I was struggling.

During the week I kept thinking about what Holy Week means. I was wishing I felt part of The Church. I would have loved to participate in one of the ceremonies. When I was coming home at 6:30 Thursday evening, I thought “In a few hours Jesus will be arrested.”

I got lucky. When I came home yesterday there was an invitation to dinner. The real short friend of mine who I told you has the sick sister and the old girl friend of mine who you guys adored and now has a husband, wanted the four of us to eat dinner and then watch a movie.

So the couple picked up my short friend, met me at the Mexican restaurant around the corner, paid for our dinners To Go, then drove us back to their house. The food was great. They all wanted to taste my menudo and they all loved it.

I was leery about watching the movie because movies overstimulate me and most TVs bother my brain. But I knew I should go and I was right.

The movie was The Darkest Hour. It’s about Churchill’s appointment to Prime Minister and his struggles to outwit Chamberlain and Halifax so that Parliament and the nation would accept his demand to fight to the death against Hitler.

You would have loved it. I told dad he would have loved it.

I didn’t get home until 11:30. Some neighbors were having a loud party that didn’t stop until 1:15.

I laughed. I got to spend Holy Saturday night with people I feel good being with, and one of the few nights I went out happened to be one of the few nights my neighbors were loud and I couldn’t have gone to bed early.

Happy Easter to you and mom Jim.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko