by Fr. Jack, Guest Contributor on
And He called twelve to be with him . .  and said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
It’s after midnight and near freezing. My buddy, Carter, and I stand still and peer into the canyon. It has sharp shadows. The moon lights up the flat surfaces of rock. The coyotes start yelping and there is a gentle rumble behind us. I immediately know that rumble. Carter doesn’t. He hasn’t been here before.
Seven hours ago, we set off for the plains of West Texas. I finished my Sunday evening Mass, threw some stuff in a pillow case, and jumped into Carter’s truck idling in the driveway. Just a moment ago, we were in the strange space of late-night road daze and two states from home—the sweet exhaustion of Sunday preaching and a full week of ministry settling in to a calm sense of grace and peace.
But, now, in frigid air on the canyon edge, we are wide awake. I feel like I’ve been transported into a Lord Huron song. The rumble is closer. I lead Carter through the dark brush towards the curious sound. We stop. I smile. His mouth falls open. Ghost buffalo—a lot of them—slowly, carelessly, pass in front of us.
The coyotes continue their background chant. Carter crawls into his sleep bag. I light another smoke. I don’t want to not see any of these stars.
Tomorrow, Fr. Carter and I will join Fr. Matthias and Fr. Luke at the cabin to do nothing much but laugh and eat and pray, ride horses, play music and maybe some baseball. And then Carter and I will drive all the way back home: he to a big hospital, I to a poor inner-city parish.
I put on my red head lamp to give thanks with Night Prayer. Carter’s already asleep. I’m guessing he prayed it with his phone.

Lord, we have celebrated today
the mystery of the rising of Christ to new life.
May we now rest in your peace,
safe from all that could harm us,
and rise again refreshed and joyful,
to praise you throughout another day.
I strip down to my boxers and quickly start to shiver (the temperature feels below freezing!). I crawl into my bag on the other side of the cold fire pit. I pull my coat over my face. The shivering stops. In the canyon, in the dark, there is stillness.
In this deserted place it is clear: the best part about being a priest is my brother priests.
07 / 08 / 2021
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