A word by way of introduction.

This afternoon I have embarked upon the beginning of what might be expected to be somewhat straightforward – spring cleaning.  

But when you have moved 11 times in 10 years, and counting; when you have moved from priestly ministry in the Roman Catholic Church to a once-in-a-lifetime position at Boston College, and then to priestly ministry in the Episcopal Church in another metropolitan area; when you begin to unearth boxes and folders that have traveled with you from a grand old parish in West Lynn MA to Glenstal Abbey in County Limerick to BC to Brooklyn to Mercer School of Theology in Garden City NY; when you find snippets of conversations and good wishes and prayers and questions answered and unanswered . . . then spring cleaning becomes something worth beginning that may never be ended.

Every inch of that landscape is marked both by the compassion of God, made flesh in great people, and by my own strivings, needs, half-understood yearnings, and throughout a faith that is the foundation of all.   Absolutely all.

I can only do this work for so many hours at a time.  I have to stop then, return to the present place and time, and consider well.  There may be some things I deem worthy of sharing as they are (re)discovered.  You may not find much in them, but for me they are worth transposing into another key, with hope and a tear or two, a smile, and a grateful heart.

This prose poem – without skill or guile that I can see! –  bears the date of 6/6/06.  That was the period of time between Sacred Heart in Lynn (hi guys!) and Boston College’s Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (a beautiful reality, now tucked into BC’s School of Theology and Ministry).  I believe I was at the time of that writing staying in a condo in the beautiful town of Newburyport, a condo owned by a friend from Sacred Heart.  I was upheld entirely and without want by the love of friends and strangers, and the Lord whom I could see standing between them. God bless those generous friends, every moment and always.

I have no idea almost a decade later who the ‘neighbors’ are as they are mentioned here.  I hope they weren’t put off by a neighbor between them who was thinking a lot, as is still and always true, about the meaning of our lives together.

A porch to either side

on a sunny June afternoon;

one seen from an upstairs window

an infant carefully placed in a carriage asleep,

one unmoving hand visible,

and in it the potentials of a lifetime.

Another seen from a kitchen window

an old woman, still, in a rocker,

breathing in another June

old dog by her side,

each hand lain on a rocker arm

and in them the history of a lifetime.


Young mother comes with care in quiet,

raises the young one to her cheek

and enters the house.

The old woman lifts herself with care

as the dog rises too,

no ease for either,

and enters the house.


Neighbors, infancy and age,

Between them is life


held in common,


as neighbors.

(J. McGinty 6/6/06)

old woman and baby
Greatgrandmother and child (NY Daily News 4/1/15) 


One thought on “Neighbors

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