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I Go to Church to Bond With My Father

I go to church to bond with my father,

Who is distant and a Roman Catholic only by name.

Personally, what I am looking forward to

(Me, who left Catholicism a decade ago)

Is the donut bar offered at the end of mass.

My silent father drives the few awkward streets to church,

Which is actually just a cafeteria inside a Catholic high school.

On our way inside, he finally speaks

Only to tell me I need to check my tire pressure when we get home.

I nod and say, "Ok, dad."

The father starts mass,

And my father and I resume wordlessness—

A representation of our relationship in Ordinary Times.

In my head, I imagine my older sister,

Who is staunchly non-religious,

Laughing at me for this sorry performance.

I do a shoddy sign of the cross,

And I secretly think to myself but what if I did pray?

So I kneel after processing for communion,

And I ask the father if I am where I am supposed to be.

There is no answer.

The homily today is about the Binding of Isaac,

In which Abraham is compelled by the father to sacrifice his child.

As he binds Isaac, an angel interrupts him to say he has proven his faith,

And he sacrifices a wild ram, instead.

I look towards my dad who, admittedly, is a man I know very little about,

And I wonder if he would bind me, too.

Instead, he wraps a sweet arm around my shoulders,

Smiles, and for once does not tell me about another thing I've forgotten to do.

At the end of the service, he makes a quiet beeline to the donut bar.

He instinctively grabs my favorite kind

And two juice boxes for us to share.

As I catch up to him, he hands me the bounty,

Pats my back,

And reminds me to check my tire pressure when we get home.

I nod and say, "Ok, dad."

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