by Father Mark Goldasich
Warning: If you do not presently live in the state of Kansas, please read no further. The following story will simply upset you.
Once upon a time in the kingdom of heaven, God went missing. Eventually, Michael the Archangel found God on the seventh day, resting. Michael asked God what he’d been doing.
God sighed contentedly and pointed down through the clouds, saying, “Look, Michael, what I created! It’s called a planet and I’ve put life on it. I’m going to call it Earth and it’s going to be a place of great balance.”
God pointed to various areas of the Earth and said, “For example, over there is Greenland, which is very cold, while over here is the Middle East, which is very hot. And this area of the world over here is filled with lighter-skinned people, while that area there has folks with darker skin. This spot has great forests, while overthere…“And, on and on,God went.
Michael was impressed. Suddenly, though, the archangel noticed an area of rolling hills and prairie and exclaimed, “What’s that beautiful garden spot there?”
“Ah,” said God proudly, “That I call the ‘Land of Ahs.’ It’s Kansas, the most glorious place on Earth. It has beautiful lakes, flowing rivers, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, oceans of waving wheat, fluffy clouds and blue skies year-round. It has four marvelous seasons and you can see millions of stars in the sky there at night.”
“And the people,” God gushed. “Kansans will be known as modest, intelligent, good-humored, fair, sociable, hard-working high achievers. They will be revered throughout the world!”
Looking puzzled, the archangel then said to God, “But what about balance? You said there would be balance, didn’t you?”
“Well, of course,” replied God. “Just wait till you see the yahoos I’m putting around them in Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri!”
OK, fellow Kansans, do you understand why I put that warning at the beginning of this column? Seriously, I’m sure there were many nicer ways to make a point about “balance,” but certainly few more colorful than this story.
We hear a lot about living a balanced life these days and, although that idea is appealing, many of us believe it’s just a pipe dream. Well, at least two people might disagree with that general sentiment. The two are actually a married couple, John and Cindy Korb, who are parishioners of mine — for a while longer, at least — in Tonganoxie. (You can read their remarkable story on the front page of this issue.)
One of the impressive things about this couple is their balance. Over the many years that I’ve known them, they’ve always made time for the important things in life: their family (both nuclear and extended), their parish (serving in more ways than I can list in this space), and the wider Tongie community. Despite being very busy as parents and teachers, they always seem to be on an even keel — having a smile, a good word, a helping hand or a hearty laugh always at the ready.
Now, as they “retire” to work in the foreign missions, John and Cindy are teaching me yet another lesson in balance. As God has given them many blessings, they want to share that bounty — balance things out — with those in less-developed areas of our world. Moral theologians like myself would call what they are doing a commitment to social justice in the world; John and Cindy would simply call it “the right thing to do.”
While not many of us are given the call or talents to work in the foreign missions, seeking balance in our hearts, our homes, our schools, our neighborhoods, our parishes, and our workplaces should be a constant goal. Ensure that the most important things in life — our family, faith, community, the cries of the poor — get the time and attention they deserve.
It is possible. John and Cindy Korb are living proof of that. And the secret is a simple one: John says the Prayer of St. Francis every morning. It’s essentially a prayer for balance: Where there’s doubt, bring faith; where sadness, joy; where despair, hope.
So, let’s get out there and be those channels of peace. After all, God’s depending heavily on us Kansans!