Unless you've hung around an urban church for a while--not a day or so, but weeks at a time--you have no idea what passes through and what wondrous folks you might just meet.
One day, five or six years ago, I encountered an elderly Hispanic man in the hall way. I often don't know if the person I'm speaking with is on drugs...but I usually recognize alcohol. My elderly friend had been drinking enough for three people and it was early in the day. He spoke no English and I had almost no Spanish, so he swayed and looked concerned and I, caught up in his movement, swayed back and forth with him in confusion.
Finally he said, "Pee pee". And that I understood. The use of bathrooms is a universal language. So I helped him through the library of the church to the three bathrooms off the nursery. I turned on the light and led him in. He knew what to do from there, so I left him to complete his business. But five minutes later, obviously too confused and drunk to find his way back to the front door, he started yelling, "Mama! Mama! Mama!"
Another universal language--the call for mother. So I rushed and helped him into the hallway where there are two doors to the outside. He sat down and fell asleep and when I wasn't looking, left. I've never seen him again.
But in telling the story, the staff of the parish came up with a new exclamation. When something was confusing, confounding, troubling, outrageous (lots of that) or simply inexplicable, for months people would say, "Pee-Pee, Mama!"
Who among us hasn't reached that point from time to time? Bodily urges and being lost are things we can all understand. To this day, when I don't know where to turn or what to do or who will help me, I resort to the universal signal of distress....PEE-PEE, MAMA....
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