by Father Mark Goldasich
David Slagle, an office manager in Atlanta, tells about getting a call several years ago from a woman who worked for him. Her car had broken down and she was stranded about two miles away. Playing the white knight, he drove over and found the woman leaning against her car, looked frazzled.
When asked what happened, she replied, “I was just driving down the road and the car quit running.”
“Could you be out of gas?” Slagle asked.
“No,” she answered, “I just filled up this morning.”
That one question pretty much exhausted the manager’s automotive expertise, but he persisted, “Well, did it make any noise?”
“You bet,” she said. “As I was driving down the hill, it went brump, brump, brump, POW!”
“Hm,” said Slagle. “When was the last time you changed the oil?”
With a blank look on her face, she said, “Oil?”
It turned out the poor woman had owned the car for 18 months and never changed the oil! (Adapted from”1001 Illustrations That Connect,” by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, eds.)
Well, Leaven readers, this will be our last weekly issue until Sept. 12. As is our custom, we publish biweekly in the summer. That gives our regular staff of six here an opportunity to “change our oil.” While we love what we do, the challenge of putting out a 16-page paper each week is draining, both physically and mentally. Summer gives us a chance to recharge, relax, sneak in a vacation and more family time, and just generally catch our breath a bit.
Changing the oil is vitally important for things to run smoothly. Heck, we even do it in church. Did you know that the oil in your parish is changed once a year? Many parishes have an ambry where three containers are displayed when not in use — the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and the oil of chrism. On the Tuesday before Easter, the archbishop blesses new oils that are then taken back for use in each parish in the coming year.
So, if your car needs oil to keep from breaking down and even your parish changes its oil, it makes sense that, as individuals, we need to do the same. But it won’t happen on its own, any more than the oil in your car will change itself. Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, is a great time to plan how you can do some preventive maintenance — find rest and relaxation — for your body and spirit in these next few months.
Let me start by saying there are a couple of things that you will not find me doing. For years, I’ve flirted with trying a tandem skydiving jump. Heck, just last week, an 81-year-old great-great-grandma from Wichita did one. At the end, though, when asked if she’d do it again, she said, “Probably not.” On hearing that, reason and terror kicked in for me and I’ve banished the skydiving idea.
And speaking of reason and terror, you will also not find me on the brand-new highest waterslide in the world — 17 stories high — at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, Kan. It’s fittingly called “Verrückt” (German for “insane” or “just plain nuts”), which I would have to be before considering a plunge down it.
Oh, I’ll attend some Royals, T-Bones and SportingKC games, but what you’ll find me doing most is reading. In addition to devouring some new collections of stories, here is what’s on my list:
My parishioners will love that I’ll be poring over “Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less,” by Joseph McCormack. Before they get their hopes up, though, for shorter homilies, I should warn them that the book is 234 pages long. Couldn’t the author have made his case in a briefer way?
As far as exercise is concerned, I’ll be doing — well, reading — “The Ignatian Workout,” by Tim Muldoon, which contains “daily spiritual exercises for a healthy faith.”
Always looking to be a better pastor, I’ll be examining ”Rebuilt,” and “Tools for Rebuilding,” both by Michael White and Tom Corcoran, suggesting practical ways to make the parish even better.
Lastly, since I’m fascinated by art and am a sucker for anything Italian, I’ll be reading Ross King’s “Leonardo and the Last Supper,” about that great work of art in Milan.
Why not spend this holiday weekend compiling your own relaxation list? I’m eager to get to mine, because we all know that it’s the “oily” bird that gets the worm.