Always glad, though never proud, to surrender to the truth of my Knuckleheadness, i have used this blog on many occasions as a confessional. Today i’ll let loose a biggie. As my buddy, Tommy Stanford, likes to say, “Life’s a Gas, Let it Pass (holding crap’ll kill ya!)”

St. Augustine, one of history’s most famous sinners, thanks to his own admission, told us clearly from his first failing how one of the strongest roots is peer-pressure, as much so in the 4th century as in the 21st. That Ugly Ogre was breathing down my neck those days. It was long ago, back when minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. Though just a teen, i was offered $11.50 for a summer job, YIKES! Move over, Donald J.T.! i’m hot stuff! Not easy work, of course; here was a kid doing a man’s task, cutting pipes in the “Bathroom World of Speakman.” (i made 1000s of those pop-ups for your sinks.)

But, that being said, my REAL main occupation was trying to win over the “giant kids” inside the men of the crew, constantly engaged in practical jokes were they, which nearly even cost me fingers. But oh, how cool they were – and made me wannabe! So, i set out to prove myself.

The factory was in Delaware, and just behind it ran the B&O Railroad. And right there, smack dab in our faces, was a real live hobo haven, not a whole camp but definitely one cool stop on the journey. There was easy on/off access to freight trains and a perfect shady rest, a secret hideaway known only to them – and to the boys inside those windows.And there was one special area just perfect for the traveler’s relieving himself, well sheltered by trees and shrubs, but not safe from me and my 25-foot pipes. i found an even better use for them than pop-ups. How about creating a stampeding elephant right through hobo heaven in the city of Wilmington? As from their windows my pals would watch,  i slid my weapon out in silence, only to get it behind their heads and BLOW!!!  making these poor souls jump out of their skin, many a naked butt a-shining, many landing right in their brew. Forty plus years later i still see their horror – and still hear the laughter. i was a hero; i was definitely TOO COOL! at the expense of the hobos.


BUT THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED! Or should i say SOMEONE HAPPENED! Then came a sharp turn in my tracks. THE GOD OF MERCY decided to give me another chance. That very same summer i would be rescued from myself.

And it wasn’t very far away from that B&O HOBO STOP. Up the road a bit there in Wilmington stands a very special hospital just for children. It is known as the A.I. duPont Hospital, and that summer a friend of mine happened to be a patient there. One day while i was visiting, another patient for some unknown reason (in time known as MERCY) had picked me out of all the other people in the place to be her pal – and to play a game of Peekaboo. She was really good at it, and while at first i had no desire to play, something made me go along. When i decided to put a stop to it once and for all, that’s when SHE DECIDED TO PUT A STOP TO ME!!! Right in my tracks. As i quickly caught her, i caught the reason for her game, as she did not think i’d be quick to receive her. This little girl only had a half of a face. It just might have been the first time i REALLY PRAYED, i mean, not some well-memorized old-time prayer but a real live straight from the heart – OR MAYBE FROM THE GUT, as that was where i was really aching at that moment. i prayed that i could stay there with her, really look her in her eye. i prayed, as if for the first time, TO SEE!

Isn’t that what she was saying to me? Or what God was saying to me through her? Saying about my hobos? “WAIT…TURN AROUND…GO BACK…LOOK AGAIN, boy! I Believe you have it all mixed up.” Think again. Is there anything SO COOL AS COMPASSION? And if you consider in whose image you were molded, IS ANYTHING MORE MANLY THAN MERCY?! Nothing!

My little girl-friend opened my eyes, the ones in my head and the ones in my soul. She taught me that people can be so so different from me, and this is REASON to CELEBRATE and to support them, rather than mock them or knock them down. Then, what a wonderful world this could be.

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Oh, i do not mean by this that i fully learned my lesson or that i still don’t do stupid things, make knucklehead mistakes. i simply mean that from that point in my tracks ONWARD i could no longer excuse myself. i rely totally on the Mercy of God and live in awe of the ways in which He chooses to show it. Always AMAZING Grace.


Author: friardad

what's it like having a wife and six kids after having been a friar for many years and being still married to St. Francis' Lady Poverty?


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