Originally posted Wednesday, July 20, 2005 So again I’m on vacation this week, and as is my custom, I do most of my years thinking while I’m not needed to do much beyond grilling some sausages and picking up my family from the beach if I should hear thunder and am not napping in the hammock. It occurs to me that I have not been a good person lately, on a number of dimensions. I’ve been an impatient father, an indifferent husband, an inattentive son, an unmotivated employee, an insensitive boss, a careless friend. I’m pretty down on myself and I think maybe it’s because I haven’t been giving God His due in my life. I have a lot of reasons, but they aren’t God’s fault, they’re mine and other human’s. No, they’re really just mine. Like a guilty child, I felt the need to explain, so I called God up. This was the image that I always had growing up – that making the sign of the Cross was tantamount to dialing God’s house and talking to him. I still have that image. Now it would be really creative to give God a voice here – tell you he sounds like James Earl Jones or Pavarotti or even Sally Kellerman. I’m not doing that because it’s not true. I don’t hear voices, God’s or anyone else’s, in my head. The reason I know He hears is that I ask the questions and the answers come. Sometimes it’s just the quiet I need to think clearly. Other times stuff I never thought of jumps into my mind. That’s when I really know He’s talking. Nothing you can make a movie out of, but God doesn’t work like that. So I call Him up and, of course, He’s home. I ask Him how He’s doing and then catch myself. “Duh, sorry about that. Of course You’re great. Ha ha...” Silence = Get to the point. (That’s Him talking again.) Most of my adult prayers begin like this: “I know I haven’t been very attentive to You lately, but I need Your help. I’m kind of lost.” Silence = Go on. I imagine He’s not too happy, but He doesn’t hang up on me. Still, I’m hesitant. I start where my upbringing and CCD teachers would dictate I should start. “I haven’t been attending Mass at all.” Silence = No kidding. Suddenly, I feel the need to make an excuse. “Of course You know that. It’s just that I’m mad about the molestation thing.” Silence = Me too. “And it got me to thinking that the Mass in general isn’t really meeting my needs.” Silence = Your needs? “Yeah, you know, spiritual renewal, inspiration, motivation to be good. All that stuff.” Silence = Your needs. So on top of good health, a beautiful family, a safe, peaceful place to live, a Basset Hound and time to sit on the Cape and do nothing for a week, you still want to talk about unmet needs? Do I have that right? Getting a little nervous, even though I know He loves me. “When you put it like that, it sounds bad…” Silence = Bad? Bad! Try ungrateful. Even with all you have, that I have given you, you still want to go to Mass to be ‘motivated to be good.’ Are you friggin’ nuts? Really, because I didn’t think you were. “You’re right, of course.” Silence = Of course. “But I want to be more. I want to use the talent you gave me to help others, to influence those around me to do the same, to make the world better, like Jesus said.” Silence = Okay. You are at the starting point. Why do you start with the Mass and your needs? Blah, blah, blah. Your needs, the real needs, are determined and supplied by Me. They have nothing to do with cars or homes or other material stuff. You decide that because I truly don’t care. I give you 3 things you need: Love, talent and people. What you make of those things is up to you. “That makes sense. Okay, how can I make the most of these things You’ve given me?” Silence = I’m not in the habit of repeating Myself, but I’ll make an exception. You can start with some basics. The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule for starters. Be an example to your kids first and everyone else you come in contact with. Keep your promises. Admit your mistakes. Apologize when you need to and occasionally when you don’t. Never use pride as an excuse to avoid doing what you know is right. I love lists. “That makes it pretty easy to understand. Thanks.” Silence = Not so easy to implement though. You need to think about how you’re going to implement these ideas in your daily life. What are you going to do first? “Well, I should probably start going to Mass again. Seems like a logical first step.” Silence = And do what? Sit there, slack-jawed and sweating for an hour a week? Remember the experience only if the priest happens to say something clever? Then go home satisfied that you’re a better person than the guy who stayed in bed reading on Sunday morning? I didn’t want to go to Mass anyway, but His reading of my thoughts was spooky, it was so accurate. “Okay, what do you suggest?” Silence = Take action. You said you’re an impatient parent. Why not really concentrate on being more patient? You’re an indifferent husband? Why not try to be more attentive? You’re an inattentive son? Call your parents. Go see them and bring your dog. You’re an unmotivated employee? Motivate yourself. You shouldn’t need others to get you to do your best. You’re an insensitive boss? Have you ever needed sensitivity and not gotten it? Or if you have gotten it, did you appreciate it? Remember that the next time someone needs it. “This is great. I know what to do. I probably always knew, but now it’s clear. Thanks. That helps me a lot.” Silence = Was that all? Was I finished? Or was there more? Did you forget that you were a careless friend? Or were you trying to duck that one? Totally honest. Who would I kid anyway? “Ducking.” Silence = Why? No excuses. “I don’t have the energy or the interest. Also, there is a friend who I didn’t treat very well, and they are probably mad. Rightly so. I was mad too, and I don’t feel like facing it. Out of my life, clean, simple. No explanations owed or offered.” Silence = Wow. You think that makes you tough? You think I’m impressed? “No.” Silence = You are correct. And you know what you should do. Tell me. “Contact and apologize. Explain, but mostly apologize.” Silence = You’re on the right track. I’m glad you called. I missed you. Don’t be a stranger. But remember, you’re only human. You’re not perfect. You’ll make mistakes. Do your best. I love you. I’m proud of you. Some people never ask Me the questions you asked. Still fewer do what I suggest. I hope you are different. “I hope so too. I’ll do my best.” Silence = That’s all I ask.