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M.E. Garafolo

"Where words await..."

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A Priest Story

Posted on August 25, 2017 at 3:17 PM Comments comments (13)
I remember, years ago, when I was in my home parish, a priest who was assigned there for several years. I don’t recall many details about him, except that he kept getting my place of work confused with someone else, and I was always correcting him.  I never brought it up, but each time we would meet, he would inevitably ask me a question about working in this specific place, for some unknown reason.  Perhaps it resonated with him (or he wanted me to work there!); perhaps he was just a bit muddled.

He was a very, very nice person.  I want to clarify that because people, being who and what they were, were unkind when describing him.  They poked fun at his sunny disposition, his cheerful demeanor, and mild manner. I have no clue as to why this causes unkindness from others, and I should, since I was one of them, at the time.

Maybe it was just easy.

Perhaps he illuminated something we lacked?

In retrospect, he was the much better person. As a priest, that should have been a given, but we all know that it is not necessarily so.
His sin? He always saw the glass half full. Heck, completely full, when it wasn’t.  He saw the goodness and brightness, and I guess, the Light of God, in everything.  Even disastrous situations.  Which, could another reason he was ridiculed.

“Oh, what a beautiful day it IS!”.  He often began his homilies this way.
Which led the fusspot congregants (mostly women, if the truth be told), to proclaim rather smugly: “Why, Fr. Smith could be standing up to  his kneecaps in a basement full of flooded water, and he’d STILL say…Oh, what a beautiful day it IS!”

How dare he?  Sure, he was in a position to be eternally cheerful: He didn’t have bills to pay, kids to raise and lawns to mow. (Just irritating parishioners, I see now.)

Okay, but still not good enough reason for anyone (particularly, CHRISTIANS) to denigrate his perpetually sunny outlook.  It was pretty mean-spirited, and everyone, including me, lost the translation.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about Fr. Smith.  I wish I knew him better. Because he had something we all chase after, in many different ways.  Some not good for us at all.

He had faith.  He had hope.  He had…yeah, God.  And he was sure of his God.  So why NOT look at the inherent good, even if the basement was full of water?  Why NOT proclaim How Great Thou Art, then and there?
I know, it’s easy to say, but believe me, I’ve seen people with tremendous burdens who manage to stay hopeful, positive…and kind.  Maybe he was one!  And we just didn’t know…or didn’t chose to know.
How unChristian of us, huh?

So, now looking back, with more wisdom and gratitude for each day, and each new experience, I recognize that Fr. Smith really did have the better attitude.  And the stronger faith.
What’s wrong with wanting to “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side…”?

Nothing.  In fact, emotionally, it’s way better than seeing that glass half empty…or not there, at all.

The Great Wait

Posted on April 8, 2015 at 8:18 PM Comments comments (2)
When my husband read about Popular Woodworking’s invitation to readers for articles concerning wood, he challenged me to submit, suggesting I direct my focus toward “The Plight of the Woodworker’s Wife”.  While I believe he was only kidding at first, and despite the fact that it sounded suspiciously like a really good country song, it also occurred to me that my continuous and plaintive cries throughout the years, for a house actually decorated with furniture, may have finally reached open ears.
While it is a joy, certainly, to have a creative and skilled semi-professional craftsman for a husband, it can also be the source of much contention.  For, as hard as I try, I cannot sneak a purchase for furnishings (or napkin holders, phone caddies, or God Help Me, golf clubs), without the immovable determination of a husband who insists upon MAKING EVERYTHING.
“How lucky are you?”, exclaim the collectively envious (and rhetorically-speaking) world, when I tell them of my spouse’s “proclivity”.  No one on earth would object to hand crafted furniture/accoutrements, would they?  Well, no one in their right mind, at least.
Um, sure, yes, okay.
Not!
For:
I am tired of signs in my living room that announce my entertainment center is “Coming Soon”. 
I am weary of balancing my laptop on my lap, while my office desk is being custom made.
I am more than perturbed that my putting skills are left on hold, languishing, until a club that fits both my frame and personality, is spouse-designed and produced!
But, if you think it’s hard to convey that selfish, vapid, shallow and ungrateful sentiment to those near and dear, try explaining it to him.
Wood, you see, is his life.  If it could, it would flow through his veins.
(Sigh)
Who am I to still the artistic métier? 
Who am I to stifle that creative flow?
Who am I to destroy his raison d'être?!
And so, I resist the urge to shop Bloomingdale’s home furnishings department. 
I turn a blind eye to Macy’s Biggest Furniture Sale, Ever.
I wipe a stray tear and stifle a tiny, pathetic cry when Ethan Allen has that coveted credenza for fifty, yes, fifty percent off!
Trust me, it’s not like I don’t appreciate every single, solitary piece he has ever created just for me…because I do, I do.  I swear I do.
I’d just prefer a smaller window of anticipation.
I wonder if there’s a support group for other spouses similarly afflicted?  If there isn’t, we can all meet at my place.

Of course, everyone will have to sit on the floor…I’m still waiting for chairs.

Longmire: More Frenzy than Freedom

Posted on July 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (2)
7/25/14: Something weird is happening on "Longmire".  I'm not sure if it's a new direction, or misstep, but the installment last week was downright unrecognizable.  I don't know which filmatic auteur  "they" thought  they were channeling (some very weird hallucinogenically-- fueled moments, there), but it isn't any memorable filmmaker I know.  It was just plain chaos ( I know, I know, that was the idea), but not in a good way.  You don't actually have to create an environment of complete uninterpretable muck to convey frenzy and madness.  A little subtlety would have been nice.  And, in keeping with the Longmire character...

Shame on whoever let that loose on an unsuspecting viewing audience without a darn good editorial tweak; Walt deserves better than that.

Longmire: American Hero with an Australian Twist

Posted on July 27, 2013 at 12:38 PM Comments comments (10)
Robert Taylor Captures Hearts as Sheriff
 
America’s hottest television hero isn’t American at all; Aussie actor Robert Taylor may look and act the part of a contemporary Wyoming lawman, but his provenance is distinctly Down Under. Convincing us his roots run deep into North American soil has not proven difficult for the prestigious Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) graduate, though it was not too long ago he was working oil rigs, a strictly non-acting endeavor.  His breakout performance as Fr. Vincent Sheahan on the well-loved Ballykissangel for BBC Northern Ireland, wrapped up the six year series; as fans recall, he played a rather unconventional Roman Catholic priest, who resisted the traditional order of the Church, even owning the local public house, much to the irritation of his bishop and local pastor.  He was handsome, charming and a bit mischievous.  Did I mention handsome?
Given his prowess at playing roles that call for intelligence and intellect, along with his signature laconic carriage and deportment, it is not surprising that the Longmire character he embodies has been compared to Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood. Both men elevated the taciturn hero to perpetual and iconic stature; Robert Taylor does not stray far from that revered persona.  Should it become his brand, as well, would not do a disservice to either distinguished actor.  Whether or not he is eternally typecast, is up to him.  Not a bad gig, though, to reincarnate men who command respect and admiration, simply by being themselves.  He could do worse.
That Longmire has achieved an already rabid fan base and critical acclaim, while only into its second season, is extraordinary, given the series is not broadcast by the major network fixtures;  A&E continues to make significant inroads into that territory with other shows, too.  But, Longmire seems to be in a class all its own, given the portrayal of a man who seems to shoulder the weight of the world without complaint.  It’s a tough job, being sheriff of Absaroka County, probably as difficult as being Walt Longmire.  But Robert Taylor takes it in stride, affirming that the responsibility for holding it all together and doing the best job he can is entirely his; Walt would no doubt, agree.
 

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