Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What a Dork!

It happened to me again yesterday, or rather it happened to a friend, but I did it: I couldn’t shut up.

He gave me a gift, with all good intentions. The gift was a video, meant to enlighten me. Watching the first part of the video with him, I began to analyze it, as I do with books I read. I raised questions unanswered by the speaker. I wondered why certain facts were omitted. I questioned the bias of the presenter --- I would have done it differently or I knew of others I felt had done it better. And so when it was over, I offered my comments to the presenter of the gift, a friend, or perhaps a former one. From his response I suspect he wanted to yell at me: “Shut up!” Of course that would not have been polite, and so he didn’t.

In truth, looking back, I wish I’d yelled at myself: “Shut up!”

Recently I presented my views on a book to someone I know. She had a totally different understanding of the book and commented extensively on my views, patiently going point by point, explaining why I was mistaken in my understanding. We were getting nowhere until I explained the background, my totally unique background, which colored my views on the subject matter. Having read that, she understood why I viewed things as I did, and we were able to then quickly agree on the strengths and weaknesses of author’s presentation. We had a satisfying intellectual debate on the book. But my friend who had offered me the video yesterday offered it just as a gift, not something to debate about, but just a gift.

Perhaps I might finally “get it” if a priest in a crowded church might read my mind, stop the mass readings, stand up, look at me and yell: “Shut up!!” Or perhaps if God stopped the earth and everything on it, appeared in His glory in the sky, and sent a lightning bolt landing at my feet, and glaringly said: “Can’t you shut up already?” Maybe, just maybe, then I might “get it.”

Perhaps then I might remember. Perhaps then I might value my neighbor, each and every one, and when they speak to me or offer me gifts of knowledge, listen for the wisdom they offer, however hidden in their words, and just shut up. And maybe even thank them. That’s what most polite people do when offered a gift, they say thank you.

Advent is a time of preparation, of making ourselves ready for the coming of God’s great gift. To all I have offended by my failure to accept their gifts, yesterday, last week, --- heck, probably most days of my life, I can only ask forgiveness. I want to grow in holiness through any gift they might offer me, but I’m such a dork. With all my reading and studying and experiences, I want to offer my “wisdom” on most any subject, but most people don’t want to hear it. I’d be much better off shutting up and listening. There is so much more for me to learn, and my growing to be done.

So often my mind races, and if people are around I want to take action, to offer thoughts --- even here on this blog. It’s like I’m constantly preparing gifts of myself for others. Certainly that is well and good --- if they are ready to receive the gift. Most aren’t; it will come in God’s time, not mine.

This Advent I will try to remember that I have no great gifts to offer anyone; the great gift was given by Him. Advent is a time for me to prepare to receive, in gratitude, His gift. I will try to talk less, and listen more, to be better prepared. I would really like to make a vow to do this, however I’m afraid it would lead me to be in confession every other day. I’m such a dork. A picture of Fr. Solanus Casey hangs over my bed. I pray to him for blessings; I suspect one of his biggest is containing his frustration at me, and not sending that picture crashing into my head some night.


  1. I think that being a dork can be quite a gift in itself! I don't imagine Solanus Casey would want to crash into your head, I think he smiles at how you always do your best to draw others to God and that you always get back up when you fall, or as you say, fail to shut up. I think that if your friend who gave you the video knows you well, he knows that it is just part of how God made you, to evaluate what you read and see. It means that you deeply value everything as a gift from God and are always looking to see how these gifts from God that are presented to you can best be used by you and by others.

    I guess I needed a dork in my life because all of the insights that you have shared with me through emails and comments and your words on this blog have been a blessing to me and a source of spiritual strength.

    God bless you Tom, and thanks for the birthday wishes!

  2. I found myself laughing quite a bit as I read this post, not because I could relate to you here but because I'm not at all like you here! If I was a fly on the wall, after you and your friend watched the video...
    I can relate to saying things I never should have, I have been there before, and at times find myself there still, spewing forth and getting deeper and further from my point, and feeling embarrassed and dirty afterward. Is it a guy thing? I don't know, but it tends to go that way. You may be a 'dork' (HA!), but one who has given me much to think about, much to pray about. May your Advent journey lead to new awakenings. k

  3. What a delightful post! It's good to know I have company! I thought I was the only enthusiastic one who got carried away with my subject ... but from the sounds of things, we might have an epidemic on our hands!

    Ah well, guess we'll all just have to be understanding of each other, yes?!

  4. I thank you all for being so understanding. I guess it's a good thing that there are days we get frustrated with ourselves. How would we ever grow if we weren't dissatisfied with something?

    I'm glad to hear that you can see some faults in yourself also; that's the start to change. And I'm thankful, Anne, that you were able to remind me of the good things, even in the bad.

    You are all blessings to me.