The back of the church is filled with babies, the pews in front of us with children in their Sunday best, and way at the very front, two neat rows of fourth-grade saints with their gold-painted cardboard papal tiaras and crosiers and veils and tiny birds glued on St. Francis’ shoulders.
And, I pray when I can in between trips to the vestibule and negotiations with an 18-month old, I pray that with us too are little ones from across the sea, buried by an indifferent earth. More saints here today. More than yesterday.
After the struggle that is Mass, that is the Holy Sacrifice in more ways than one, I return rented movies and drive back by the school. Another mother, who also struggled with her two little ones during Mass with, it seemed at the time, less patience than I, if that could be possible, is walking down the sidewalk back home. Laughing with her babies, who are laughing, too. A song is playing on the radio. A country song by Tim McGraw about a red rag top car and the life that was made in that car by two young people. A life created then ended, the singer says, with the determination that there would be no regret. Implicit through the deceptively simple lyrics is, however, nothing but regret and an acknowledgement of loss and selfishness. The song plays and the regret mounts, and at that very moment, the school doors open and little ones stream out, in neat lines, bound for the playground in the dark fall coats. They just keep coming, skipping, running, flowing out onto the sidewalk, and the song doesn’t end, and I swear, beside the living, I see another faint line of dark fall coats,not from across the sea now, but from right here, buried by our own indifference, streaming out beside them. More saints, for all martyrs – holy innocents included - are saints.