Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
Blogging consists, in large part, of finding what journalists call “stories”. The first rule of storytelling is this: A story is a war! It requires conflict! So I set out to write this blog as a war correspondent, looking for some conflict to get me and my readers worked up about. But….
The warm breeze sighed past me as I tried to get editorially righteous. Should I pontificate about busted oil wells? Well, pretty much everybody has done that to death over the past couple of months. Put me down as “against busted oil wells.” And gosh, but that breeze feels nice! Glazed eyes go all heavy-lidded.
Back to reality! Should I talk about the war(s) we are currently involved in? President Obama is continuing on his trajectory as Bush 44 and nothing I say or do will change that. I suppose I could note that fact again and register some sound and fury, sort of like a fly trying to shout down a jet engine. But mostly I’m thinking that sprinkler outside sounds inviting…
Maybe the economy? I dunno. Mammon is fun and all but… well, have you noticed the sound of birdsong out the window lately, and the way the clover is piping up like little white musical notes on the lawn? And the smell of freshly mown grass? And what is that game those kids are playing out there in the sunshine? I hear a lot of splashing! Are they having a waterfight? Man! I remember that lulu of a waterfight we had with Luke and Matthew and our neighbor Rick. Buckets of water! Rick managed to get up on his roof with the high pressure nozzle on the hose! He could nail you at 25 yards! Hoo boy, were we soaked….
Focus, Shea, focus!
I could talk about politics. How about them DC beltway insiders, eh? There. In DC. Where the beltway insiders live. With cherry trees. And that rolling Virginia countryside where you once stood on the back lawn in Mount Vernon—and Jan was dressed in that white cotton dress that set off her rich red hair flowing out from under a broad-brimmed straw hat. You can still remember her smiling at you in the warm lazy sunshine. It was just a couple years after you were married. No kids. Footloose and fancy free. Two young lovers on a cross country adventure standing in the doorway of George Washington’s house and just savoring the goodness of a fine Virginia summer day. George Washington was a politician and he wasn’t so bad. Maybe politicians aren’t such a bad lot. At least not today….
Shea! The blog! Current events! Grim indignation! Sober analysis. Crisis! Get with the program! What about global warming? Like last summer when the mercury hit 115 degrees and you were so hot you couldn’t think straight? Don’t you remember? You called Luke and said, “What’s the point of being self-employed as a writer if I can’t blow off a day at work, call it quits due to extreme heat, and go throw all my kids in the lake?” He agreed heartily, you scooped him up with his brothers, and spent the entire sweltering afternoon swimming all the way around the island in the middle of Lake Ballinger. It was heavenly! The water was so cool and smooth as glass. You thought, “No wonder God chose this as the means of new life in baptism!” Could there be a more beautiful invention? Thank you O God for our Sister Water!
Oh great! Now I’m going all Franciscan! Current events, Shea! What is current?
Well, it’s currently summer. God is currently pouring out a vast panoply of blessing on the entire northern hemisphere of the only inhabited planet that we know of in the entire universe. All of North America, Europe and northern Asia are currently witnessing the immense miracle of summer’s bounty.
Face it, Shea. The story today is that life’s not a story first. Before it’s ever a war, it’s a poem and a gift. Creation comes before the Fall. There’s time enough for grim indignation. But there’s also time for thanksgiving for what God has freely given: the whole universe and sweet summer days.
Later dudes. I’m going swimming!