Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A Priest and An Atheist Walk into a Bar

 No, that’s not what happened.

A priest and an atheist walk into a Bar Mitzvah.  No, No. Let’s get serious.

A priest and an atheist walk into Peggy’s bedside. The man of the cloth is Father Patrick Comerford. Whatever gold dust he carries is exactly what Peggy has reception for. Her own resources are sparked. His simple presence mends bones, quiets a clamorous heart and recharges her cells.

We talk about pubs in Dublin, the poet / priest Gerard Manley Hopkins and his sister, Irish writers, the history of Trinity College, his days as a tennis champ, his brother the taxi driver, Vin Scully…….everything, thank God, but religion.

Father Paddy could have come out of central casting with his ruddy face, shock of white hair and County Cork brogue. In my early days I remember Hollywood’s Pat O’Brien playing the priest as he walked that last crooked mile with Cagney on the way to the electric chair. Later, came Barry Fitzgerald, with the black gown and the amiable voice bending his elbow with a wee bit of the drink and a well-delivered bit of blarney. Father Patty has them all beat.

Miraculously it was Easter Sunday when he popped in to resurrect Peggy’s spirits. T’was a secular Mass; No wine nor wafer. Yet she was lifted. Maybe it was the synergy between Father Patty, Peggy and me. Atheists (I prefer the word Humanists) too, work in mysterious ways. I would argue that there is a spiritual dimension in the mundane, the quotidian, the secular. The sublime hides in the ordinary

If the pagan spring festival got folded into the Christian myth let seasonal transformation be horizontal as well as vertical. Let my people go. And while April blooms let Peggy have her exodus out of St. John’s Hospital.


  1. What a beautiful experience, Norm. I’ so happy Peggy’s energy was sparked! I’m sending you both love and hoping Peggy’s exodus from St. John’s to home comes soon!

  2. Thanks, Alone, that would be my idea of a Passover.