Sunday, March 10
In playful conversation one time, perhaps standing around having a beer at the World’s Largest Block Party, I remember my predecessor and buddy Fr. Jack Wall challenging those in the circle if they could name all the barbers they’ve had in their lifetime. Amazingly, for this particular group of guys, myself included, it was no problem. Everyone could name their barbers because, let’s face it, we stick with them for a very long time. For me, it was Russ & Oscar (same shop), Dennis, and Wayne. (I am currently on the search for a new one since Wayne retired in December! There’s not much to work with on my head!!).
With Fr. Wall’s amusing challenge, I am wondering how many of you can say (if it’s applicable) that you’ve had only one eye doctor for your entire life, thus far? Well I can!! I have been going to the same eye doctor since I was in the 7th grade, which is 38 years ago. I’m sure others can probably top me with respect to various doctors or dentists, but just last week when I was sitting in his office I had this revelation that Dr. John is the only eye doctor I’ve worked with since grammar school. And I asked him when he plans on retiring to which he said: never! He works part time and he said: I love what I do so why quit! Fair enough…
Though I have seen him many, many times throughout my life and the exam is pretty much the same as it always has been (although now he’s testing me to see if I need reading glasses! We’ve obviously turned a corner! Yikes!), this time around I became more aware of the question he was asking. For those who have gone to eye doctors and had your eyes evaluated for potential glasses, as you may imagine the procedure for the patient is to look through a contraption held up to your face with a wide array of lenses. As the doctor continues to adjust the various lenses by their intensity and you’re asked to read the letters on the wall, Dr. John kept asking the question I’ve heard him ask hundreds of times: “Is it Better? Worse? Or about the Same?”
For some reason (I attribute it to the work of Grace and the Spirit), as I sat in that exam chair on Mardi Gras/ Carnival Day in anticipation of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, I couldn’t help but think: what a great question to be asking ourselves throughout these 40 days: Is it Better, Worse, or about the Same? To put it another way with respect to our lives of Faith: Are things clearer? Fuzzier? Or about the same? Will we follow the “doctor’s orders,” if you will, and look to live differently, healthier, engaged, committed and more intentional? Can we be honest with where we find ourselves on this journey of faith? Were the ashes an authentic mark of being serious this year about Lent or just a smudge on the forehead and nothing more? When we get to Easter this year, will things in our spiritual lives be Better, Worse, or about the Same?
I look forward to sharing these next 40 days with you here at Old St. Patrick’s.
For a Better, more enriching Lent.
Father Tom Hurley