He thought he could swim across himself. To another side of this. Where he would wake up and Sun would not be God and Moon would not be Holy Spirit. He dreamed of before, when he was closer to Earth. His hands and feet and ears and lips were closer to Earth. Infant crawling, everything to his lips, everything to his tongue. And there was no “truth” then, only everything in front of you and behind the eyes, soft song like suffering youth.
Padre Pedro was 47 when it came. The rain. Inside the sacristy, sobbing something out of him. And it never stopped raining. The Church grew colder and paint began to peal. The smell of something dead began to moist and rot its way from under his robes. Under the white and the embroidered gold from Sisters in a monastery somewhere, somewhere.
He started praying to St. Somewhere instead of the sacraments and began to eat meat on Fridays to forget this endless lamenting. Padre Pedro grew into the statues and danced with the candles in his heart when the storms started and the rain came. But this wasn’t a flood. He was done with bible myths and crucifixions. He was done with the guilt for guilt for guilt. Of never knowing the left side of his hand or his penis, and always something like a plank in his eye, supposedly. He was done with being a blind, deaf, mute, beggar. He wanted to live. So one day, he started himself.
Over and over. This dream came. Of a beach on the other end of the universe with palm trees and people. Beautiful people walking all over, naked. He was never foolish enough to feel ashamed for this dream. To confess and raise high hell for something as beautiful as a dream. No, he was not that kind of priest. But he wasn’t one of the wishy-washy ones either. He knew the books inside out, and he knew where he stood. Somewhere between St. Peter and the dirt. Yes, somewhere between the raindrops and dust. Maybe he was ashes. Yes, he would be ashes mixed with spit and a little bit of sand smeared over his thigh.
This was where he was when the rain came. He couldn’t pray. There were no prayers left. He had accepted his fate. The fate of his world. He would be Padre Pedro forever and he was at peace with this when the rain came. So he started himself back to that place, started an ocean tide over his feet and the slightest cool breeze, and laughter. Laughter, like angels and hands and many fingers were what started the rain inside the Sacristy one Sunday night, before the sunset and the Church would slip from orange rainbow colored stain glass blurs on the walls, sliding into deep dark sleep, despite the candles that never slept and always had prayers in their smoke.
He thought one of his old prayers on reserve had started this, started the surging of water around him. But it was just a broken window, a tree branch through St. Selena’s eye, the patron saint of beautiful, young Tejana singers slain by something like Satan, an over protective father, or no one knows which conspiracy to stick with. Kind of like Jesús’s crucifixion, Madre Teresa and Princess Diana’s deaths all thrown into one brown beautiful, crossing over success story, gone sob story. Padre Pedro was sick of all the sadness in his Mexican sanctity. So he started to smile, started to sing Bidi Bidi Bom Bom in his head when the first cold drops began him. Pushed him up and open like a miracle, to interpretation, the water started smothering candles and caused all sorts of sins to not be forgiven and souls not to be saved, because those candles went out. But Padre Pedro was all smiles.
The sacristy, where the sacred objects were kept, chalices and candles, and the precious wine to blood the alter boys took swigs of when no one was looking, was where the rain started his thoughts. After the rectory and Sisters, some parishioners and a couple Sunday offerings, checks and a garage sale in the basement to save St. Selena’s eye, the stain glass was fixed, the cardboard removed, the Sacristy mopped and everything back to normal. Except some water had gotten into Padre Pedro’s shoes. And he remembered something about sand between his toes and holding His hand. Holding His hand in the sand, before all of this. Back to the beginning, a boyish fantasy before he sold his soul to Salvation, Eternal Silence, Certainty like security blankets. He told himself there was nothing to lament anymore, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom. Bidi Bidi Bom Bom all the way to the Lake. To the rocks. And the air had gotten colder since he’d last been there. Before, before, holding His hand there, scared of something.
Told himself he wasn’t swimming towards the eyes of that man like a vision in his dreams, that lover he longed for that looked a little like Jesús, standing on the sand, robe slightly open exposing brown body. Loafs of bread and thousands of fish for thousands of people waiting for him there, waiting for their marriage on those sands. He tried to tell himself he was just swimming away from the sadness, from the silence and suffering, the blood and tears and smell of incense always heavy in him, in his hear and hot behind his eyes, coals for burning incense always. He swam to the other side of himself and never came back. He swam, thinking there would be fish somewhere in the ice water of Lake Michigan in November. Where had Jesús gotten all those fish from then? Why were all the people naked if the water wasn’t warm? He swam. And never came back, never came back.
Don’t say, Amen. Don’t say, this is a prayer. Don’t sing a song. And don’t cry. Was his last sermon. Don’t die never having lived. Don’t die stuck in all this silence. There’s nothing sad about me. There’s nothing sad about me. So I’ll see you on the other side of yourself. The other side of suffering, is how he became Saint No One, No Where, patron saint of all those who can’t or never knew they could. Patron Saint of all those who are stuck, can’t swim, or think they’re not stuck and think they can swim. Swim despite the sinking sensation and the sound like world saying, No. Patron saint of Someday instead of Sunday, and the other side of what we think is sin, truth and water. To keep us believing in miracles, he turned the entirety of Lake's waters into whine when he started swimming, each breathe of water in let out deep violet sacrament of himself. Each breathe thinking, one day he'd wake up, a small boy-like man in his arms and this will be the way it was meant to be. Warm, floating in his arms kind of miracle.
Lake gave back the robes and scapular, his glasses and his left shoe to each rock that asked for it. And kept the rest of him for itself. An offering for Lake's prayers, miracles and sufferings into sleep, soft sounds and soothing ssssshhhh of waves, saying his saint name. Saint No One, No Where. Lake had enough water to give Padre Padro. To fill him. And love him, the way he had never been. Lake found him his place and held him safe there, a secret that no one would know.
I sit at the rock that hides his left shoe in its cracks. Looking out over Decembered ice Lake. And do not sing, do not cry, do not pray for Padre Pedro. I smile, a Bidi Bidi Bom Bom kind of smile. And Lake smiles back something like a saint.