by Father Mark Goldasich
Do you ever feel like you’re living a movie?
The one I’m in is named after the day that this issue of The Leaven comes out: “Groundhog Day.” This 1993 comedy stars Bill Murray as the hapless weatherman Phil Connors. He’s sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the Groundhog Day festivities, but a blizzard keeps him stuck in the small town. When he wakes up the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day all over again . . . and again . . . and again.
When people ask what it’s like to work on The Leaven, it reminds me of “Groundhog Day.” Just when you’ve got one paper done, another is there waiting to be fed. That leads me to lament every week, “Hey, didn’t we just do this?!?”
Greek mythology, too, conveys the same idea. You might recall the story of Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra, who fancied himself cleverer than Zeus, the king of the gods. As punishment, Zeus condemned the poor sap to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. Whenever Sisyphus would reach the top, however, the boulder would roll back down to the bottom, forcing him for all eternity to repeat this process. (I feel his pain.)
But maybe the Gospel of John best captures the newspaper experience: “When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish, because her hour has arrived” (16:21a).
OK, you might ask at this point: If putting out The Leaven is such a pain, why do you keep doing it? Well, let’s return to that above passage from John and finish it: “But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world” (16:22b).
The end of deadline day brings a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It’s great to proclaim: “Let’s put this baby to bed!” It’s also exciting to see the finished product — all the amazing things that are happening in the archdiocese — and to know that there are still more stories to be shared.
Ultimately, our Leaven work is not as repetitive as “Groundhog Day” or as hopeless as Sisyphus’ fate. It’s really like John describes: giving birth to what was not there before. Now, I can’t honestly say that I “no longer remember the pain,” but there certainly is joy in this job.
For example, look at this text that came before Christmas:
“Merry Christmas Eve!! I’m sure you’re busy, but had to share. My Mom has your old Christmas articles out today for our Christmas as per tradition. We love reading them!! Hope you have a great Christmas Eve and Christmas!” The text came with a picture of a kitchen counter, filled with my columns.
And there’s unexpected encouragement we get as well, like this letter from Holden, Louisiana, dated Jan. 4:
“Hi! I’m enclosing a $21 money order for a year’s subscription to The Leaven. I received a copy in a box I received as a gift; it was used for stuffing. I pieced it together and was so, so glad I saw your address. Please start my subscription soon . . . for it has so, so much valuable and interesting stories. Hope to hear from y’all real soon.”
I’d like to thank not only this new subscriber, but also whoever sent that present, using Leaven stuffing, to Louisiana. Now that’s creative evangelization!
It’s comments like these that keep all of us here at The Leaven happily plugging along. As we celebrate this Catholic Press Month, we thank you for letting us into your homes each week. Know that each paper is a labor of love that we’re proud to deliver to you.
Please keep us in your prayers and let us hear from you every now and then — with compliments, suggestions, complaints or just to say hello.
And don’t forget to send us your story ideas. After all, we have another paper to fill . . . and another . . . and another . . .