The simple things in life

Today at church we had our final Rite of Christian Initiation ceremony for the students preparing for baptism, which we will celebrate April 15. Participants and their families are making preparations and getting excited.

Nice weather over the weekend means that we’re getting started with activities often pushed off until April and May. Once our American Indian students came back from spring break, all the bikes came out of winter hibernation, and the campus was full of pedal pushers. Some of the homes, like Ambrose (1st-3rd  grade boys) rode off in a supervised bike brigade into town to the local park. The soccer nets are coming out and rubber softball bases are spread over the football field.

Many of our teenage readers were excited that Chamberlain’s movie theater got the movie “The Hunger Games” for opening weekend. I myself read and enjoyed the series, though it is very heavy and thought-provoking. Friday night at the early show I sat next to a large group of our junior high homes, and when we exited the theater, ran into many high school students waiting for the late showing. One fringe benefit of living in a small town is they don’t charge big city movie prices. The movie ticket, soda and box of popcorn ran me a grand total of $7.25, and the movie theater actually gives our students a further discount.

Two couples graced my Saturday. While I was eating lunch, Pink and Edwina from the parish I used to serve in Promise, South Dakota, were in the area to visit their daughter and dropped by to surprise me with a visit. As a brand new priest, they were a widow and widower in their mid 50’s, with grown kids about my age. When they decided to get married, they came to me for preparation, and I felt humbled by their years of marital experience compared to my just-out-of seminary-knowledge about the sacrament. Still, I just facilitated their talking about many issues, and we had a simple but lovely ceremony when all was ready.

The second couple are college seniors, preparing for their marriage this summer. They bring a whole different set of questions, hopes and dreams for their marriage. I don’t do as much of that kind of preparation and ministry as when I was a full-time parish priest, but do enjoy getting to know couples and celebrating with them those special, unforgettable times in their life.

As I walked by the playground and toward the office, some students on the playground waved me down and called me over. The Dennis Home (1st -3rd grade girls) and Raphael Home (1st– 3rd grade boys) were having a picnic at American Creek park that night and invited me to join them. How can you turn down food, fun and an invite from an 8-year-old?

I couldn’t stay for the whole time, but we tossed footballs around, pushed swings, walked on the balancing logs and after a satisfying meal, got out marshmallows and roasted them on sticks. I haven’t done that for some time. Kids remind me of how fun and meaningful the simple things in life can be.