Things to Do – Give Pause

Four index cards sat on my car’s dash, each with their own list. Vacation loomed, and the laundry was piling up while I busied myself with lunches, work, and the exchange of a shirt for a son who didn’t fit into size 15 neck.

I had spent much of the week in the car, or behind a computer. Or writing, I was always writing. Writing a grant, writing about a writing class I teach, writing about writing – which I hated, writing the backstory for a new novel, writing emails, writing Facebook messages for friends who don’t check email, NOT writing about writing, or just plain not writing.

Earlier in the week, I could have accomplished more, but I dragged my husband from the comfortable confines of the family room to Fountain Square where we pulled into the parking garage at the EXACT moment Jay Bruce hit a home run and fireworks were let off, thereby missing THE moment in recent Reds history.

In all of that, I was told a story while on a morning walk with a friend. A young college boy at Rutgers asked his roommate for privacy. The roommate conceded, left the room and somehow turned on the webcam, to watch while the young man had sexual relations with another college boy. The video was then posted by the roommate for all to see. The boy committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

We had been walking amidst the early fog settling heavily across the Little Miami River. The fog thickened and suddenly, my pace slowed. My feet dragged. I felt pulled into the weight of the busyness of our lives. Earlier, I had bought a shirt at JCP and KNEW the quality was poor, but I wanted the task off my list. After one washing, the sleeve hems frayed and there I was, back at the store. Like those college students, I had stopped thinking about the consequences of my actions. Intentionality had been strangled by my busyness.

Fr. Lou Gunzelman wrote of this factor, as it related to the emptiness of church pews, “The people who are not at church on Sunday are not at home … They are sleeping, shopping at the mall, working in their yard, having team practices, jogging, walking, watching football, etc.”

I was one of them, ascribing to the “need to jog” notion instead of working out my spirit. I adhered to the “other activities”, out of town on a college visit with the kids, can’t find a church, or going to celebrate a Reds’ victory, school of thought.

I arrived home, index card lists still full, and sat again at my computer to edit a podcast recording. The young man’s suicide stayed with me, as I listened to a writer speak about sandcastles as a metaphor for life, surrendering to what is, not running. So I stopped – to write this down, knowing my words gave breath to life and redefined must-do lists.

There are many types of misdeeds in our lives. In an effort to be efficient, and make it to vacation day with nary a care, I had committed a few offenses of omission. The crime in that young man’s death was not one of hate or passion. It was BIGGER. It was the crime of unconsciousness. And the only solution is to give pause. For if we don’t stop, who for God’s sake will stop the kids?


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