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“Oh, I’m Nobody.”

WHO AM I? GOD KNOWS!

By Bernard J. Coughlin | January 2000
The Rev. Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J., writes from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He was President of the University from 1974 to 1996 and is now its Chancellor. Portions of this article first appeared in the Inland Register, the newspaper of the Diocese of Spokane.

It’s early on a Saturday morning in deep autumn. The campus is quiet. No one is about. Or almost no one. I am there, walking through the falling leaves toward my office for some paperwork and perhaps some pleasant reading of a favorite volume by Jacques Maritain. Someone else is walking there too. He is some distance away but it looks like our paths will cross. His hands are in his pockets as he strides, deep in thought, across the lawns. I wonder if I know him. He appears to be in his mid-twenties. He comes closer, with his head bent and his gaze fixed on the fallen leaves underfoot.

“Hello,” I say.

“Oh, hello,” he replies. “Who are you?”

“I’m Father Coughlin.”

“Oh, pardon me, I didn’t recognize you.”

“Well, I didn’t recognize you, either. Who are you?”

“Oh, I’m nobody…”

“Of course you’re somebody,” I say. He laughs and we talk briefly. What’s your name? Where are you headed this Saturday morning? After a moment, we part and go our separate ways.

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