by Father Mark Goldasich
“He was a fumigator from Yonkers.”
Sadly, that’s the only line I still remember. It’s been about 44 years since I last spoke that sentence as part of a routine that I did as a “solo humorous interpretation” during forensics tournaments while I was in high school.
The skit involved an elderly woman commenting about life. The only prop I had was a pair of my grandma’s eyeglasses, which I perched on the tip of my nose. The glasses were those old-fashioned type that were basically just a couple of lenses encircled by very thin wires that looped around your ears.
Whenever I think about my Grandma Modrcin, my mom’s mom, those glasses come to mind. She was very much like the woman in this story by Walter Buchanan:
A little boy said to his playmate, “When I get older, I want to wear glasses just like Granny’s because she can see so much more than most people. She can see the good in a person when everyone else sees a bad side. She can see what a person meant to do even if he or she didn’t do it.”
“One day,” he continued, “I asked her how she could see the good, and she said it was the way she learned to look at things as she got older. And when I get older, I want a pair of glasses just like Granny’s so I can see the good, too!” (Adapted from “Sower’s Seeds Aplenty,” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.)
Well, eHave you been praying a bit more and remaining faithful to fasting in order to grow in self-control? And with regard to almsgiving, have you become more generous with your money, possessions, talent or time?
In other words, when you look into the mirror now, can you see at least the faint glow of a halo shining back at you? Yeah, me neither. My Lent so far has been “below average” at best. My intentions were really good; the follow-through, not so much.
But, thank God, there’s still plenty of time to climb back on the Lenten bandwagon and finish the season on a strong note. I’m scrapping some of my resolutions and heading back to two simple words that my friend, Jesuit Father Jim Martin, advised people to remember this Lent: Be kind.
To do that, he proposes three practical behaviors:
- Don’t be a jerk. If you’re feeling stressed, tired or angry about something, don’t pass it on and make others miserable. “Fool” your bad mood by being encouraging and supportive to others, no matter how you actually feel, and focus on all of the things that have gone right in your day, rather than just dwelling on the negative.
- Honor the absent. Simply put, don’t gossip! Idle talk is unhealthy to “gossipers” because it leads to tunnel vision (seeing only the flaws of another) and a hardened heart. It’s destructive to the “gossipees” who, when they find out — and they will — will feel hurt, betrayed and angry.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. Think the “best” of people and their actions, rather than the “worst.” Seek out the full story before drawing any conclusions.
“Being kind may be harder to do than giving up chocolate,” writes Father Jim in the February edition of “Give Us This Day,” “but it’s a lot more helpful for your spiritual life — and for everyone else’s.”
My grandma practiced these three things. Although she led a simple life, it was rich with generosity, compassion, love and tenderness. She was someone you enjoyed being around because she always could see the good. That’s why I still admire her many years after her death.
Can you imagine what our families would look like if we honored Father Jim’s three suggestions? And if our parishes lived them, how attractive would we be to people who have no faith or are looking for a deeper meaning in life? And, to really dream: If our politicians treated one kindly, what sort of country would we have?
You know, I’m going to go digging for my grandma’s glasses. I need to put them on ASAP to see what a wonderful — and holy — world this can be . . . and already is.