by Father Mark Goldasich
Well, the year 2020 sure didn’t turn out the way I imagined . . . or did it?
I reviewed what I’d written last Dec. 27. First, I mentioned that everybody who wore glasses or contacts could throw them out “because in just a few days, we’ll all be seeing 2020!”
After almost 10 months of dealing with the coronavirus, I’d have to say my vision has improved: I came to see how blessed I am and how I took most of those blessings for granted. I never appreciated fully things like handshakes and hugs, going out to eat or to visiting friends and loved ones, fully stocked grocery shelves (especially paper products), the internet (for more than Facebook and cat videos), my health or even being able to gather in large groups to celebrate the sacraments.
Secondly, I told a joke in that same column about twin boys — one who was a pessimist; the other, an optimist. The latter received a box of manure as a Christmas gift, and he was thrilled! I ended my column with these eerie words: “Who knows? What appears to be a box of manure might indeed mean that there’s a pony somewhere!” (If you don’t get the joke, check out this column in the Dec. 27, 2019, Leaven in the archives).
Many people will remember 2020 as a box of manure. But could it also mean that there’s a pony somewhere?
During this pandemic year, people were encouraged to wear a mask, socially distance and wash those hands. Sadly, though, this self-care seemed to turn into selfishness for some: hoarding supplies; scoffing at the common good in the name of an imagined personal freedom; and ridiculing anyone who thought differently.
As always, however, there are those who realize that the best “self-care” is to turn outward to the needs of others. This story by Edmund Banyard illustrates that point:
There was once a village woodworker who was also an undertaker when the need arose. His language and manners were crude and he rarely darkened the church door.
However, one day after a funeral, he heard a group of bystanders saying how sorry they were for a widow who had been left with a young family. Roughly, the woodworker/undertaker pushed his way into the group.
“How much sorry are you?” he demanded, adding, “I’m sorry $10!”
After taking the money from his pocket, he immediately started a collection for the widow from the assembled bystanders. (Adapted from a story in Anthony Castle’s “More Quips, Quotes & Anecdotes for Preachers and Teachers.”)
The couple featured on pages 8 and 9 of this issue show how much good can be accomplished by turning outward to the needy. Growing up, the couple was no stranger to poverty. That experience led them to care in small, practical ways for anyone whose needs became known to them. What started small and local became a foundation that now has an international reach.
This couple embodies these words of St. Francis: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
That’s my hope for the new year. May we do first “what’s necessary,” that is, notice the needy. Then, let’s each respond in whatever possible way we can.
Eventually, together and with God’s help, we’ll end up doing the impossible . . . and maybe even find a “pony” along the way.
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