Happy 4th of July. I hope it is warm and sunny at your picnic because it is FREEZING here in Portland with no sun to be found anywhere. We are getting ready to go to a barbecue and I’m bundling up in socks and long underwear.

I should probably wax poetic about freedom, but what I really want to talk about is the new priest at our church – and the old woman’s handbag. Can I squeeze it all in? I’ll give it a try.

I’m thankful for our freedom here in America. I am very thankful for our government, our highways and parks and schools and public buildings that our freedom (and taxes) allow us to enjoy.

Pressing on to our next stop, the new priest – I really like him. He’s from Washington DC, well-educated and well-spoken, and FUNNY. He told a story about a preacher who was teaching a group of pre-schoolers about the freedom they have as Christians. “Now I’ve told you all that you are free in Jesus. So everyone who is free, raise your hand.” All the kids raised their hands but one. He was grinning from ear to ear. “I just told you that everyone in this room has the freedom of Jesus, so everyone who is free, raise your hand.” Again the one did not raise his hand. The preacher went over and asked him, “Johnny, I just said everyone in this room was free, so why aren’t you raising your hand?” The little boy grinned real big and said, “I used to be free until yesterday, and then I turned four.”

The congregation laughed at this and several other jokes and asides. I didn’t drift off to sleep even once. I think I’m going to like Father Charles very much.

On to our final stop, the old woman’s purse. During Mass, when we got up to go to communion, I went out into the aisle, received communion and went back to my pew from the other end. I saw my purse right there, which threw me completely off, since I then noticed that my purse was where I left it, down at the other end of the pew. Whoa! I felt like I was in a parking lot trying to get into my car, and then noticing my actual car a row away.

These two purses are run-of-the-mill black and white department store purses – not Coach or Prada. Mine was not very expensive, but it is practical and goes with everything and I’ve been quite pleased with it. Until today. Once I saw that someone else had my exact purse, I wanted to see who it was. I settled myself in the pew and watched the people filing in.

Oh my gosh! This very elderly woman with tight curly white hair, and elastic waist pants, baggy button up shirt, old woman orthotic shoes, etc. – she was the one who had the same exact purse as me.

Now I’ve got to get rid of the purse. I carry the same one until it falls apart or I get really tired of it. Luckily I was getting tired of this one. If you think I’m being petty, that’s your prerogative.

After all, it is a free country.