Hanging In There

Charlie at squirrel crossing

I am intensely busy right now. I hope to get a post up tonight after my talk in West Palm Beach – if I am not exhausted, which I may well be. I spent Pentecost at the summer property of some friends from Atlanta – Tom, the fellow who runs the private forum. He showed me with amusement this little sign beside a firepit where we said the Rosary before processing to Church. It was there when he bought the place, but he didn’t really notice it until this year and the rise of the squirrel meme on this site.

At my Birmingham area talk, I had three parishioners of a Priest who I had met on my pilgrimage. They said he remembered me from that after I started this site – and wanted to come, but had some car trouble. It was a very unique Mass. Fr. Shinnick has to cover four Parishes for Sunday Mass every week. I was in Eutaw, Alabama where the Mass would be at 2 p.m. It was a very small Church. I had to forfeit a full day of walking, but finding a Catholic Church in rural Alabama and Mississippi was a rare thing, indeed, so I waited. When Fr. Shinnick arrived, we chatted a little. At five after the hour, I was still the only one there. So we started. When it came time for the readings, he looked at me somewhat bemused and asked, “Do you want to do the readings?” Equally bemused, I said I guessed I had better.

After Mass  asked him if this had ever happened before. He said no, never. It is a small Church, but he usually got at least 10-15 people. But that Sunday, it was just him and me…and I was glad I had been walking through, so he didn’t waste the trip.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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75 Responses to Hanging In There

  1. BlessedIam says:

    West Palm…I was just there on a trip. So close and yet so far. Safe travels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Phyllis smit says:

      Hello Charlie I’m from Alberta close to the Montana border. We are hoping and praying you will come here when you come to GreatFalls Mont. We wil pick you up and take you to Lethbridge Taber. Calgary anywhere you want to go. There are many different prayer groups that would welcome you. I’m Phyllis smtphil@hotmail.com. We have lost Mary’s number thank you

      Liked by 2 people

      • deereverywhere says:

        That is wonderful, Phyllis, but don’t you need a passport now to go to Canada. I remember when we went in the ’70’s you could simply declare your citizenship my nine year old niece was shy and the Mountee smiled at he and said” your Canadian” she turn 15 shades of red and giggles.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Beckita says:

    Thanks for checking in, Charlie. Knowing your previous comments concerning what happens when you are fatigued, may I simply say: REST. Please take good care and rest when you need it. While trusting you’re where you need to be, accomplishing what needs to be done, I’ve got you tucked in this heart of prayer, as I’m confident our NRS family does as well. If the article doesn’t get up tonight, it will when it’s time. Please just get some good rest amidst all that is. Love you, Charlie!

    Liked by 13 people

  3. al chandanais says:

    Funny how we see things, we humans, I am saddened too that you were the only one at Mass or one could look at this as Jesus hosting only you to sup with him. A private meal with Jesus, nice, Then again you could look at it as the parable of the rich man inviting his friends to a party .but all were to busy, so the homeless were invited, which in a way you were. What a wonderful day that must have been. experiencing first hand the generosity of God Sacrificing himself once again for the one person who showed up for the party. Nice story Charlie, thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 9 people

    • Charlie says:

      I would prefer to see the priest and Charlie experiencing together what those two disciples experienced at the end of their journey to Emmaus. What an intimate moment that our Blessed Lord Jesus shared with them.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Snowy Owl says:

      Deeply insightful, Al! I love it. 💞

      Liked by 2 people

      • al chandanais says:

        While working for an electronics store in New York many years ago, I had the honor to wait on four Priests from Africa stationed here in the states. After taking care of them I helped them carry their purchases to their car, I told them I was honored to take care of them and requested they say a prayer for me in the parking lot. Actually I said “you know I can’t let this opportunity go by without asking you to pray over me”. They jumped at my request and proceeded to surround me in the dark parking lot with people coming in and leaving held their hands over my head and I almost levitated off the ground. Four beautiful priests blessing me with all they had. When finished I hugged each one and told them anytime they needed something come see me. They did but one at a time, what a great experience Jesus gave me that I will never forget.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Snowy Owl says:

          Oh just beautiful!

          Liked by 3 people

        • Beckita says:

          Beautiful, Al!

          Liked by 2 people

        • jlynnbyrd says:

          I love that and God love you Al, and our Shepherds!

          Liked by 2 people

          • al chandanais says:

            I have lived a very blessed life with Jesus, he has taken me from poverty to riches beyond my comprehension. He has blessed me to trust him in all things and I love him so much I mostly call him Love instead of Lord. I missed every winter storm by one day in 2012 as a trucker. Lord sent his angels to pick my truck up out of the mud and put it back on the interstate in Louisiana when I lost control of the truck and it slid into the mud going 60 miles an hour. I have seen hurricane force winds turn to a breeze at my request on elk mountain, Wyoming to waking to a tornado in Galveston tx at 3 am and lord Jesus turning it into a cleansing rain. Love blessed my wife and I with a picture of him and the satan after another tornado was stopped by prayer in Moriches New York back in 2004 I don’t fear the weather here in tx because Love always hears me. Yes, God loves me, Jlynn as he does all of his children so lets stop worrying about the storm and just trust He that has more love for us than we can imagine. Let us just thank him first when we pray and then make our request, that is pretty much telling him we trust he will answer us and finally, let us work to JUST BE so he can do what he needs in us, for us and through us.

            Liked by 5 people

  4. Lilia Florentiae says:

    Hi Charlie, I just want to say Hello. Thanks for taking care of us.
    Have a happy day, God bless you.
    Lilia

    Liked by 7 people

  5. Mary Ann says:

    Great story Charlie. It was meant to be just you and Jesus

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Jay says:

    Hey Charlie! I too want to say thanks for the note. Enjoyed your recount of your experience as the only attendee at Mass that Sunday. Hope to see you again in DFW area sometime soon!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. JudyM says:

    Charlie, something to go along with your “Squirrel Crossing.” When my niece Susie was about 5 years old, she told us she had changed her name to Booch. We asked her what Booch meant, and she said a Booch was a baby squirrel. From then on, everyone called her Booch, except for her older brother who called her Squirrel. I had a sign made for her bedroom door that said “Booch Crossing” and I had a baby squirrel painted on it. It still hangs on her door, but now that she is a sophomore in college, she has decided Booch sounds too much like B*tch, and she gets irate if we don’t call her Susie. We had a very “Dramatic” argument about her name at a family picnic this weekend. I still think Booch is an adorable nickname, and I hope she reconsiders some day when she is no longer a “Drama Queen Teenager.”

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Rose Stahl says:

    How sad for the priest that cares for the people and for the people that didn’t show up. They missed seeing Jesus. I will pray for all of them and you Charlie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Oh, it was memorable for both the Priest and me. We kind of chuckled afterwards over what a strange situation it was…but we had a great Mass.

      Liked by 6 people

      • YongDuk says:

        Honestly, as a Priest before a Bishop or as a Bishop who is a Priest… raised eyebrow emoticon, Micky and HNSE… To have a Mass alone in a Church or a Chapel and to sing one’s Heart Out is wonderful!

        I remember being in the Holy Sepulcher and saying Mass at the Altar of St. Mary Magdalene and we started to sing and the Custodians came over and interrupted us saying that we would cause a war (yes, war), as the Latins only get one sung Mass a day early in the AM.

        So, don’t feel bad, Rose, these things do indeed happen with Great Providential Care swaddling Innocency.

        Liked by 8 people

        • bflocatholic says:

          When I was in my twenties, I thought daily Mass was something only for “holy rollers.” Boy, was I wrong.

          I was in the Navy at the time and, during one of my deployments, a Roman Catholic Priest who was also a Naval Reserve Chaplain was assigned to my ship for a couple of weeks. During his time onboard, he held daily Mass for anyone that was interested. Although I had never been a daily communicant, I was trapped at sea with nothing to do other than stand watch and sleep, so I thought, “What the heck?”

          Most days, I was the only person on the ship that took Father up on his offer. I have to say, those Masses that I attended on the ship where it was just me and Father were some of the most meaningful and grace-filled occasions in my life. Since it was just me and the Priest, there was no place for me to hide. I was both an attendee and a participant. Father asked me to proclaim the first reading and the psalm, and also to act as an altar boy. I was amazed and delighted by the intimacy of those Masses, the rhythm of the daily liturgical calendar, and the power of the words spoken (often inaudibly per the rubric) by the Priest. Quite simply, it was AMAZING!!

          And, for me, life changing. Since that time, I have striven to attend daily Mass and consider myself blessed to have had my eyes opened to the power and beauty of daily Mass.

          So, don’t underestimate the power of a not-so-well attended Mass!

          Liked by 9 people

          • JudyM says:

            Bflocatholic, I also spent some time out at sea as a nurse aboard a floating university, Semester at Sea (http://www.semesteratsea.org/), and learned the beauty of small intimate morning Masses.

            Most of the Catholic students aboard only attended on Sundays. But there was a small group of us who would go out on the top deck with our priest, set up a makeshift alter, and have Mass with the backdrop of the sun rising up out of the ocean.

            Like our Lord said, “where two or three gather in my name, there am I.” And he was indeed there with us—-you could feel his presence. Those were some of the most beautiful Masses I have ever experienced in my life.

            Liked by 8 people

          • jlynnbyrd says:

            Cheers to our nurses and Navy en and women!! Thank you sincerely! ❤ My sister is a nurse and her daughter, my godchild, is studying to become an RN too!

            Liked by 4 people

          • lambzie37 says:

            Thank you for your service.

            Like

        • Beckita says:

          And the entire Heavenly Court is always happy to unite in prayer whether there is but one soul or a million!

          Liked by 7 people

          • JudyM says:

            Thanks Jlynnbyrd. I always encourage every young person I meet to become a nurse, boy and girl alike. My nursing education has opened up the world for me.

            Liked by 2 people

  9. YongDuk says:

    Beautiful Providence on the Mass last year…

    Googled squirrel meme, but only silly photos came up. I was expecting to see somethign akin to a Siamese meme.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Vijaya says:

    Love that squirrel crossing. I need to take a picture of cat crossing — a metal carving of a mama cat carrying a kitten — in my neighborhood.
    Regarding Mass. Don’t priests offer Mass daily regardless who shows up? It is rather intimate when there are only a couple of people in a chapel.
    God speed wherever you go!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Thanks for everything Charlie. I’m keeping you in my prayers. It was great to see you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Pat says:

    I have a very close friend that lives in Eutaw, AL. He’s a fallen-away Catholic and I pray for him all the time. We talk several times a week and every couple of weeks or so I’ll tell him to get his tail to confession and get back to Church. I can imagine him finally showing up for Saturday confession in Eutaw and there’s one person in line – him – and there’s two people at Mass – him and Charlie!

    Liked by 4 people

    • charliej373 says:

      I spent my birthday that year in Eutaw. May your friend find his way back home. Fr. Shinnick is a delightful Priest – and I think your friend would get a lot out of the encounter with him.

      Liked by 4 people

  13. Michael says:

    Hi Charlie ,from Scotland .would just like to ask you all to remember my late father in your prayers today.Its his 2nd anniversary today and although I still miss him greatly I would never wish him back here . He ,I hope is were I wish also to be one day.
    God bless all and thank you
    Keep up the good work Charlie

    Liked by 8 people

  14. Bob says:

    This weekend my wife and I were out of town. We did an overnight float trip on the Jacks Fork River in Missouri, something I love to do as it is the prettiest float stream in the state and my dear wife is my only overnight canoeing partner as most of my male friends have wimped out on these adventures. She made me promise I would take her canoeing after we got married so I am joyfully keeping my promise. Your title “Hanging in there” is well put. During our float we saw some Cedar trees just barely hanging on the the cracks in the bluffs above, God’s Bonsai trees and my wife commented the message of that is “Just keep hanging on”. I do love seeing my God’s handiwork. It is good for my soul and with my wife beside me how much better it is!

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Hm. I’ll bet the squirrels knew that crossing was there.

    Hey, YD, I did manage to find a photo of a meme after seeing Charlie’s picture. It’s just a grainy Polaroid, and unfortunately Doug and that other rascal couldn’t stop themselves from photo bombing the meme. Also, I’m not sure who that third photo bomber is.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Snowy Owl says:

      Mp, you are SO talented! This is just great! I LOVE Doug’s little red wagon- awww haha! So, so funny!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Beckita says:

      So great, MP. Love the class II malocclusion you rascals share!

      Liked by 1 person

    • YongDuk says:

      Yeah, that is my exact expression at Mass with the Altar Servers who cross-around too quickly too often…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Beckita says:

        A sight to behold, YD, I am sure!

        Liked by 1 person

      • If we get through this stretch… if you and Doug actually find me after the storm on the way to Mt. Meeker… we all know we’re going to laugh like children at the first squirrel sighting… or, maybe we’ll just smile and walk along in silence. I’m at home either way. If it gets too quiet though, I’ll have printouts of these memes in my pack, and Doug will have his brand of jokes, so we can still have a good chuckle. I think we’ll need a good chuckle after all the crying, and I have no intention of getting out of practice. Looking forward to you saying Mass for us.

        I had spotted the rare black male Phainopepla up in Lost Dog wash back around Christmas of 2013. This Pentecost weekend, I finally spotted the gray female Phainopepla along a stretch of the Verde River. I could only stand there breathless, smiling, and remembering my friends here…

        Liked by 4 people

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      MP, you are such a hoot!! I am printing this out and hanging on the frig, next to Our Lady of Tepeyac, for daily inspiration, smiles and chuckles, .

      Liked by 1 person

    • lambzie37 says:

      He actually still had one in the basement that he used to trek stuff around the yard in! I think we got it second hand for the kids. MP can you send the original to StormNewHampshire@gmail.com? I’d really love to have a copy printed up.

      Like

  16. CrewDog says:

    Hey Charlie,
    Your Eutaw, AL Mass reminds me of my “Mass Just For Me” experience during Gulf War I. My Mass actually happened during the forces build-up, “Desert Shield” as you might remember, later Desert Storm when the fight started …. anyway. My unit flew out of Old Riyadh Airfield, Saudi Arabia and we were quartered in Eskan Village about 30 min from the airfield. Any non-Islamic Religion is prohibited there so Chaplains had to call themselves “Morale & Recreation Officers” or somesuch and in the early days trying to find a Mass was difficult as the Padres moved about. I figured out where Mass was in the Village one Sunday, a small out of the way interior courtyard , and when I showed it was just me, the Padre and his Chaplain’s Assistant. Anyway I got to “Play” Altar Boy, do the Readings too 😉 … a very memorable experience for me. Later, happily, the Mass Schedule got spread around and a not so secret place was turned into a Chapel.
    I can’t help but wonder if the days of semi-secret Christian Services are at hand … No!! … I don’t wonder really … wonder about that is wishful thinking ;-(

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 5 people

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      Thank you for your service CrewDog! I worked at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois during that war. As suggested by our management at Christmas time, I wrote a letter to “Any Soldier” in 1990. I received two lovely letters back, one included a poem this young man wrote about his fears & hopes as a soldier. He signed them Chad Smith, aka “Any Solider.” The war ended so swiftly, much to his delight, and ours as well as we were just starting our family. Chad’s poem brought tears to my eyes as he acknowledged God’s love in the midst of it all. I have misplaced it, otherwise I’d share it.
      Last December we shared a link on our NRS blog about a Christmas movie titled, “The Christmas Card” that was also about a solider who received mail from a stranger. During that season, the government overreach regarding the refugees was the crisis of focus in the media. I’ve since wondered how nice it would be to be able to contact our refugee brothers and sisters with such correspondences. So I did a Google search and found out a young lad already thought of this and started an organization which has since been collaborated with Jesuit Refugee Services. So if anyone is interested in reaching out to a lovely soul in a meaningful way, I would suggest checking out anyrefugee.org.

      GOD BLESS US ALL!

      Liked by 3 people

      • CrewDog says:

        Re: I wrote a letter to “Any Soldier” in 1990.
        Hi Jlynnbyrd,
        I answered one of those “Any Soldier Letters”. It was from a Catholic School Gal named Amy from PA. I sent her a reply with my pic and later on one of our unit’s coffee mugs with her name on it. I think about her from time to time and hope she is having a Good-Life … she would be pushin’ 40 now … Yikes!! ….. Where has the time gone!??
        I also got a couple of letters from Playboy Bunnies. Apparently one of my KnuckleHead College Sons answered some kind of survey and put my name in with My Dad’s “Over-There”. One of the Bunnies was my vintage as she said that if I had sons in College I must be gettin’ on in years … like her 😉

        GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • jlynnbyrd says:

          CrewDog, that is so cool!! I
          It broke my heart when we could not longer write to “Any Soldier” due to the aftermath of 9/11. I have lived a quick train ride away from O’Hare Airport most of my life. I love people and could watch them all day long. For fun, even as a teen, I would just hang out at airports, shop, eat, go to the chapel and watch folks comings and goings.
          My sweet daughter Veronica would watch people and make up life stories and share them out loud, which were always so tender and sweet with a happily ever after ending. It will be a joy to have the freedoms that you and others have fought and died for returned to our *Nation, Under God.*

          Liked by 1 person

    • lambzie37 says:

      Thanks CD for your service!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. leel004 says:

    It saddens me to read that you were the only one to “gather at the Table of Plenty”. I beleieve it was St. Padre Pio who said it would be easier for the earth to survive with no sun, rather than no SON. A wise elderly friend of mine once said it is SO good for us when we can have Mass said as many places as possible because of the Heavenly grace that falls upon the place of Celebration. Had you NOT been there the priest would probably not have celebrated the Divine gift of the Eucharist.
    And I would like to add here, Charlie, that in reflection in reading 1 Corthinians 14 &15, you kept popping into my mind. You have a gift given to you that is needed to be shared. And like the poor priest whose grace filled gifts are beyond comprehension and traveled many miles to make Mass available to souls, he did what God calls him to do, whether people respond or not. Keep up the work you are called to do.
    Aloha and God bless

    Liked by 2 people

  18. genennene says:

    I hope no one else was confused by this post like I initially was. First saw it last night, and saw that there were only 4 comments. I thought, “I must have gotten to this one early.” This morning there were still only 4 comments.

    Perhaps people misread this, as I initially did. While it is now clear to me that Charlie is referring to a Mass that occurred back during his nationwide trek, my first read left me to assume that no one showed up to the Birmingham visit.

    I hope this isn’t leaving people with the opinion that people are turning away.

    God bless.

    Like

    • leslyek says:

      Gene – Hi. I admit I had the same thought about so few people, but then realized I myself found no need to reply and in fact was getting into the private blog. Plus, hopefully we’re busier weathering the storm ( with and for others:) !

      Like

  19. Snowy Owl says:

    Just a little fun for you guys 😊 Our pair of pileated woodpeckers get in a fights with our red squirrels at our feeders on a daily basis. They fight over the suet that we make for them. The woodpeckers cracked me up because they flare their wings and will even whack the red squirrels with them if they get close enough! The red squirrels are so feisty! They remind me of some here 😉 Anyway I found a video… but this squirrel isn’t as feisty as the ones here are- ours have had years to plan out their battles and they seem to enjoy every second of it! They’ve turned it into a game. Go squirrels! Well..I love the woodpeckers too!
    The squirrels almost always win because they never give up (so annoying!) lol.

    Liked by 3 people

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