by Father Mark Goldasich
Have you got $4.60 to spare? That’s the most that this little exercise will cost you; maybe even less.
Oh, and you’ll need some time, of course, and a couple of other items that you probably have around the house.
The idea to do this came during a mission talk at my parish this past week, given by Father David Knight, author of some 50 books on spirituality and a priest of the Diocese of Memphis, Tenn. When we’re baptized, he noted, we receive divine love within us. Our call then in life is to express that love in healing, life-giving ways. He told the parish about a dad in Texas who lives in an unusual way. Everything good that this man sees in others, he makes it a point to mention. For example, when his son got up from supper and took his plate into the kitchen (without being asked or badgered), the dad said, “Thank you, son, for doing that for your mother!”
Think that living in this way is not so unusual? Well, read the following story and judge for yourself:
A man accompanied his friend home for dinner and was impressed by the way he entered his house, asked his wife how her day went, and told her she looked pretty. Then, after they hugged, she served dinner. As they ate, the husband complimented his wife on the meal and thanked her for it. When the two men were alone, the visitor asked, “Why do you treat your wife so well?”
“Because she deserves it,” replied the host, “and it makes our marriage happier.”
The visitor decided to adopt this behavior then and there. Arriving at his own home, he embraced his wife and said, “You look wonderful!” Taking her by the shoulders, he added, “No, you look fantastic. In fact, sweetheart, being married to you makes me feel like the luckiest guy in the world!”
At that, the wife burst into tears. Bewildered, the man asked, “What’s wrong?”
She wept, “What a day I’ve had! Billy fought at school and had to go to
the principal’s office. The refrigerator quit and spoiled all the groceries. And now, well, here you’ve come home drunk!” (Adapted from a story in “More Perfect Illustrations for Every Topic and Occasion,” by Craig Brian Larson and Drew Zahn.)
When a wife hears compliments from her husband and doubts his sobriety, that means she’s not felt noticed or appreciated in a very long time! And that’s a shame, isn’t it? Why do we find itso hard to “see the good and mention it,” but have no trouble being negative and pointing out flaws? It really doesn’t make any sense, especially for us Christians.
So, that leads me back to the $4.60. That’s what it will cost to buy 10 first-class stamps. Why 10? Well, beginning Monday, Nov. 18 — and then once a day through the Wednesday before Thanksgiving — I’d suggest you write a note to someone whose goodness you see… and joyfully mention it to them. I’d be willing to bet that little exercise will make your holiday celebration even more festive. Why? Because Father Knight pointed out: “What you don’t praise, you won’t appreciate.”
If we truly want to be thankful people on that fourth Thursday of November, we’ve got to notice and praise “the good” breaking loose all around us.
Sure, you can tell this to a person verbally. But taking the time to actually write down the good that you see makes it even more special — for you and them. The person can hang on to those positive words and reread them, especially on days when they’re not feeling particularly appreciated.
Use this weekend to buy those stamps, gather pen, paper and envelopes, and do some thinking about the “lucky 10” that will be on your list.
Acknowledging the good, shamelessly and often, is one of the best ways I know to develop your “write” brain.