As we leave 2018 behind us and prepare to leave welcome 2019, I want to share with you a short story written Father Patrick O’Doherty, Pastor of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala, FL. This is my parish and I look forward every week to hearing Father O’Doherty bring the Gospel alive. This story is printed here with his permission and as published in our Sunday bulletin.
CALL ME FREDDIE
I was visiting either the second or third grade classroom (I can’t remember which) when one of the children said, “Father, tell us about death!”
“Once upon a time,” says I, “there lived an orange whose name was Freddie.
“Hi, everybody, my name is Frederick Mary Joseph Elizabeth. I’m an orange and since we are becoming friends, you can call me Freddie, or if you like Frederick Mary Joseph Elizabeth.
“I can’t ever remember being born, whatever born is, but I do remember being green at one time and hanging on a tree with bunches of other green oranges and leaves. I used to hear people talk about the heat, so I guess it was Summer, and as the Fall came, all the green oranges turned orange and a few of my brothers and sisters fell off the tree and went ‘plop’ on the ground. I wonder if that is why Autumn is called Fall?
“Anyway, we didn’t worry about them at all ’cause some people came and picked them up. Well, Winter came and Jack Frost with it and the cold sweetened us. Well what happened next scared me half to death. A man and a woman came and began picking all the oranges and the excitement about being picked gave me butterflies in my stomach. I can’t explain what happened next, but every orange got picked except me.
“I kept shouting, ‘Here I am, here I am, pick me’ but nobody heard me. I just hung there for a while and I cried and I cried and said to myself, ‘I’m no good to anybody, nobody wants me, nobody loves me’.
“In the weeks that followed, I got used to the loneliness and the cold winter nights, but slowly fear started to rise in me again. The leaves all around began to change color and were blown off the trees to God alone knows where. What frightened me even more was I knew nobody would pick me up when I did fall from the tree.
“And then it happened: a strong wind blew and broke the little twig holding me to the tree and I went ‘plop’. I can’t begin to tell you how frightened I was. Day after day I was drying up inside, I was going from orange to a brown and I felt I was dying, whatever dying was, and it scare me and I knew I was no good to anybody.
“One day as I lay dying and drying out on the ground, I saw Belinda the cow coming toward me. In my panic and fear, I cried out, ‘Don’t stand on me please ‘ but nobody heard as Belinda’s large foot came down on top of me and I went ‘squish’. I was ripped open and taken apart – I was pushed under the ground and no one noticed except God and His eyes flashed fire and He said, “Don’t be afraid, little orange, I love you: I always have, and do and will. You will rise again”.
“As my broken body and its seeds lay rotting and dying the the cold earth, I wondered what ‘rise again’ meant.
“What happened next is not so surprising really. The same God who walked into the tomb where Jesus was buried stood over me, groaned in Spirit and cried out in a loud voice. ‘Frederick Mary Joseph Elizabeth, come out!’ And I came out and didn’t look the same, now I was a tiny tree and all that day I thought about the tree I first hung on and was filled with hope: the best is yet to come!”
My hope for each of you is that with 2019 the best is yet to come!