by Father Mark Goldasich
Some people have a lot of nerve. Like the cowboy, for example, who recently lay sprawled across three entire seats in a fancy Tulsa, Okla., theater.
An alert usher noticed him, rushed over and whispered, “Sorry, sir, but you’re only allowed one seat.”
The cowboy groaned, but didn’t budge.
Growing impatient, the usher said again, “Sir, if you don’t get up from there, I’m going to have to call the manager.”
The cowboy just groaned in response.
With that, the usher marched up the aisle and returned a moment later with the manager. Together the two of them tried repeatedly to get the cowboy to move. Being unsuccessful, they called the police.
The cop briefly surveyed the scene, prodded the cowboy with his nightstick, and asked, “OK, buddy, what’s your name?”
“Sam,” moaned the cowboy.
“And where ya from, Sam?” said the cop.
With pain in his voice, Sam replied weakly, “The balcony!”
Ouch! I love that story because it illustrates so clearly one of my favorite themes: Don’t rush to judgment; things are not always as they appear.
In clearing out some old paperwork last week, I came across a list of summer projects for 2007. Since none of them were done, that original date was crossed out and above it was scrawled a new one: 6/15/08. Again, it was the same story: Nothing on the list was completed. Apparently, I totally gave up in 2009 and didn’t even kid myself by writing a new date on the list.
Well, I’ve resolved that summer 2010 is going to be different. While I might not get to everything on that original list, I’m making a conscious effort to complete most of them. The funny thing is, the tasks listed there are not unpleasant. In fact, they’re actually for neat things that I’ve wanted to see or do and just never found the time for. On the list, for example, are: Visit the World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial; check out the panoramic view of Kansas City from the top of Liberty Memorial; drive to Elmwood Cemetery and visit the graves of famous Kansas Citians; pay respects to Buck O’Neil at Forest Hill Cemetery.
I’ve also added some items: Try out three new restaurants; invite friends to share meals at those restaurants; visit three recently built churches in the archdiocese; ride a Segway; take a helicopter ride; cheer on the T-Bones and the Royals at a few games; catch a movie in a couple of theaters that just opened; plan and get a vacation on the books; stroll through a garden.
By the time the month of May ends (and this year was no exception), I find myself feeling stale and spent. Ideally, summer should be a time of renewal. It’s an invitation to climb out of ruts, breathe some fresh air, and explore the world that we so often rush through and don’t appreciate or notice. It’s a time to kick back a bit and let God refresh our bodies, minds and spirits.
And yes, I do have a stack of books to read as well. Some that will be getting my attention are: “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything” by James Martin, SJ; “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin; and “The Case for Books” by Robert Darnton.
So, what’s on your list of summer refreshers? Take some time to jot down a few items. Do it now, because the days of summer seem to pass all too quickly.
Let’s go back now to that poor cowboy who started this column. If you’re hesitant to treat yourself to some relaxation and are worried that people might think that you’re just lazy, tell them that things are not what they seem. Remind them of the words that we heard from the Book of Proverbs on Trinity Sunday. There it said that the wisdom of God was “playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race.” If the Spirit can play, how can we not?
May you find delight and a spirit of playfulness in these longer hours of daylight. And, should you come by The Leaven some afternoon and find me in my office with my feet on my desk and my eyes closed, please don’t jump to the wrong conclusion. I’m not really goofing off; I’m merely letting myself experience what Italians and other Latin cultures know so well: the restful beauty of a siesta!