by Louis Wenzlow
It seems that someone forgot to brief him on the socioeconomic makeup of his audience—doctors, lawyers, respiratory therapists, all trained in the US and certified to the ultra-high standards of their professional credentialing agencies.
They sit in the pews, most of them half asleep, until a surge of adrenaline ripples through the congregation when the visiting priest gets to his point about living a spiritual life on the farm in the old country—the simple beauty, the clean and healthy work. Food that’s a product of your own hands just tastes better. But it’s important not to give in to the temptation of fornicating with the animals. There are practical reasons for this, disease for example, but also significant moral and ethical implications…
The local priests look at each other, possibly wondering who the hell made the recommendation to fly this guy in, as he continues to discourse on what apparently is a real problem in certain parts of the world. The parishioners listen in utter silence, pensive, their combined American brain power focused on every exotic, fascinating detail.
For years after, we laughed about the incident, speculating that he’d just grabbed a dated sermon at random off the shelf in a rush to get to the airport, or perhaps he was battling his own life’s demons: the eye-catching leg of a cow, a pudgy lamb, the pink of pig, one hundred ways to enjoy a chicken.
Apparently he is still considered something like a saint (in the spirit of St. Francis?) where he comes from, though you can bet that he will never again be invited to the Lithuanian World Center in Lemont.
But I imagine him back in his remote parish, in that place that has barely changed over centuries, regimes, wars, technology, where they still use oxen to till the soil and folk songs are the same from generation to generation, dirt floor in his one room church, just a mindset away from being the last pagan nation in Europe, from dark acts of bizarre sincerity, wearing the white smock of Christ, so clean, and telling it to opened hearts needing to hear, that feeling of loving every living thing on Earth.