Contributors Family matters

Are you willing to waste time?

Family matters
Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

I have a younger brother who has lived in Las Vegas for many years. He would best be described as a “loner.” I have tried at different times over the years to reach out to him by phone. Most often he doesn’t answer or return my calls.

Wondering if I had offended him, I would ask my siblings what was up with him. I would most often hear, “Well, that is just our brother.”

While riding in our car to our daughter’s house for Thanksgiving, I thought I would try to call just one more time. Much to my pleasant surprise he answered and we had a long conversation.

He spoke of how he loved and missed our dad, who passed away in 2005. We shared stories and laughter about him, who was a person who might be written up as an unbelievable character.

My brother recalled a photo that showed our dad (age 17) at home on leave, sitting next to his father, with both men showing big smiles. My brother remarked that he was a good-looking young man.

Our mother was attracted to his smile, which reminded her of the actor Glenn Ford. Glenn Ford?! I never heard that remark from her. I looked up Ford’s photo and I could see the resemblance.

“Wasting” a few minutes helped us to reconnect as brothers and sons. My heart was moved as I listened to my brother’s story. It brought alive long-forgotten memories.

Pope Francis refers to this as accompanying another, as the willingness to “waste time” in order to remain close to another. It is necessary to share moments of crisis or joy. He states that “it often takes a lot of time; it takes patience, respect; it takes willingness. . . . All this is accompanying.”

My suggestions for the coming weeks of Christmas and New Year’s include:

• Go to a quiet place and spend some time with Our Lord by placing yourself in the Scripture stories. Imagine yourself accompanying Mary and Joseph on the road to Bethlehem only to find no place to stay. Imagine seeing the newborn infant. How might that feel?

• “Waste time” with your spouse or other family members, recalling your favorite Christmas memories. Be sure to include stories about loved ones no longer present. What did they bring to your life? How does it feel recalling those times?

• Make a list of loved ones you haven’t spoken to for a long while and reach out by phone, instant messaging or a Christmas card.

Be persistent and patient, willing to “waste time.” You just may be pleasantly surprised. Wounds of loneliness might be healed. Just “waste time” on one another.

About the author

Deacon Tony Zimmerman

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