Seating Chart

The accidental intimacy of third grade life, by way of remembering the seating chart.

| November/December 2013

In the first seat in the first row at St. John’s there was a girl named Colleen who was the smartest kid in the class and always got the best grades and never punted a test even once. One time she got a 94 instead of 100, and she burst into tears right there in class. She was scrawny and did not talk much and had pimples, and her dad had cheated people and gone to jail. Her mother came to pick her up every day in a car that smoked and groaned.

Her little brother was in first grade, and one time a second-grader teased him on the playground, saying his father was a jailbird, and the brother broke the bigger kid’s nose. You would be surprised how much blood there was. There was blood all over, and the bigger boy cried so hard that other kids nearby began to cry also. Our teacher dragged him to the school nurse.

I remember that was the week we played St. Mary Star of the Sea and lost by only 12 points. Our coach said this was a moral victory. A moral victory is when you lose by 20 points or less.

In the second row first seat of the seating chart, there was a boy named Mike who was Italian and did not speak much either because he had an accent. His father was so short that some of the kids in our class were taller than he was. Mike’s father was one of the four men who brought the collection baskets around in church, and he was so short that when he extended the basket down a pew with its long handle you couldn’t see him, so it looked like the basket had appeared magically by itself in the air—which was totally possible because the world was filled with miracles.

That is what our faith is all about, said our teacher. There are miracles everywhere and you must train you eyes to see them. Each and every one of you is a miracle if only you had the eyes to see.

You can see miracles more clearly if your heart is pure. Our faith is like a set of spectacles with which to see better. If your vision was terrible, and you had the chance to wear glasses to see better, would you refuse to wear glasses? No, of course not. And yet there are people who refuse this divine gift. We must pray that their hearts are opened and the beams of timber are lifted from their eyes.