Whenever I travel to another city for any length of time I like to do a fair bit of research first. I usually start by searching for the local Catholic Churches, then reviews of restaurants and tea shops, then local events. I am researching Orlando and Tampa for the trip in April. We are spending on night in Orlando before going to our "home away from home" at the Villas of Wilderness Lodge. During that one night we are going to be four blocks from the Cathedral of the Diocese of Orlando, so I figured I would look it up: Saint James Cathedral, Orlando
. The bulletin caught me off my guard, so I now I am absolutely going to have to go to Mass there. Perhaps I will try the Mandatum. Anyhow, here is the reflection written by the Rector, Fr. McCormick:
ENJOY THE SANDWICH
Warren Zevon, composer and performer, when he was dying from lung cancer, in the autumn of 2002, did an hour-long interview with David Letterman. Letterman asked, “From your perspective now, do you know something about life and death that maybe I don’t know?” And Zevon famously replied, “I don’t know how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.” Most of the people that I have mingled with over the last thirty years explain their lifestyle in terms of how busy their life is. It is the reason for needing a vacation or a break, it’s the alibi why they are not more involved with their faith or their parish, it is the logic used to explain to their family why they’re not home more often and so on. I don’t know at what point Zevon understood this lesson but his message is blatantly clear: He knew how wonderful and delicious the smallest parts of daily life are. He knew how wonderful and delicious a day in your life, or an hour of that day, or this minute is. We’re lucky to be here.
It made me consider some of what I call the small things of life, good or bad, and how perhaps, significant they can be. Children or students who participate in school sports generally are overjoyed when their parents or relatives come to watch. Yet, I have come in contact over the years with many a child, who longs for Mom or Dad or both to watch them play, or see them in a school play, or simply take the time to listen to their stories of what happened in school today. They have heard many a time the adult explanation of why that doesn’t happen, “mom or dad would love to be there but just can’t because……” It is true that if something extraordinary were to happen like being named student of the month, that grandma may show up to take a photo, but for most of us in our lives the extraordinary may never happen. This why St. Teresa of the Child Jesus defined holiness as doing the ordinary things with extraordinary love in our hearts.
Besides, what is small or ordinary, and what renders anything insignificant? Remember in the old days when you car would not start in the cold days of winter? Remember how small the spark plugs were? Think in terms of close friends on whom you rely in moments of personal challenge or crisis. They have become perhaps, even closer than family members, not because of some electronic gadgetry or latest laptop updates, but simply the mutual gift of time. Can you think back still to a time when the family enjoyed an evening, simply because everyone was home, the TV was not on, perhaps, you played cards or told stories or reminisced over a holiday vacation or the visit of a favorite uncle? Mac Davis would tell us as he did through his music, “Stop and Smell the Roses.”
In the end, I believe, it really will not matter (not even to us), but certainly less even to God, how long I have lived, but rather how well I have lived! Think especially about realities of life that cost nothing but are simply there. A walk around Lake Ivanhoe or Lake Eola , a peaceful glance at a starry sky, sitting in a boat sipping a glass of Merlot on Lake Winnipesaukee where part of On Golden Pond was filmed. Now that everyone has their own cell phone, laptop or Blackberry, gone perhaps, forever are those moments of extreme irritation that only became enjoyable when you talked to others about them: moments such as teenagers who stay in the chat room or the phone for hours on end. Have I any understanding of the social life of some of our elderly who so look forward to an evening of bingo because that is what their social life has become. I have vivid recollections of both our choir’s visits to Rome , and certainly the audiences with our late great John Paul II will forever be a part of my memories, but how wonderful it was to sit in Piazza Navona well after midnight, sipping a double espresso in a side street café, watching the world go by. God Bless, Fr. John McCormick, Rector