Even summertime editorials can be serious

Categories: Editorial

July 19, 2013, edition
By Bob Zyskowski

Vacations, rumor has it, are supposed to be a time to get away from one’s work, one’s routine, one’s usual scenery.

They are meant to offer a break, give one time to refresh and renew, open one’s eyes, widen one’s vision and experience.

You know all this.

Yet, admit it, you took your cellphone along on your vacation, you checked email several times a day and you answered those oh-so-
important questions from the folks back at the office.

Bob ZyskowskiOkay, that was me.

I rationalize that I love what I do and that it’s hard to let go even for a few days, no less a whole week.

When that reasoning fails to persuade I assuage my guilt with the thought that those poor devils back at the shop need me, can’t live without me.

Yeah, I didn’t believe myself either.

But, now that I’m back from pulling sunfish out of the lake near Perham, I’m trying something different to give myself a bit of a change.

Maybe you’ve tried something like this yourself.

Roads not taken

I intentionally took a different route to Sunday Mass, and — here’s the big one — I sat on the other side of the church.

On purpose.

It was only slightly interesting to drive down roads and streets I don’t usually travel and see something different — some beautiful landscaping, businesses I didn’t know were so nearby.

But sitting in the northern wing of our fan-shaped parish church when for nearly 30 years we’ve always prayed in the southern — it was like switching hemispheres on planet Earth.

Suddenly I could see the faces of dozens of people, the backs of whose heads I have come to know well.

I could watch the multi-tasking of the music director as he played organ and piano, sang and directed the cantor, all at the same time, not something one can view from the other side of the church.

Positive results

The ambo now was further away, and I found because of that I had to concentrate more to pay attention 
to the Scripture readings and the homily.

I got to offer my hand and God’s peace at the Greeting to a whole bunch of people I’d seen other Sundays from 40 yards away.

And, I think because of this new perspective, I found myself focused on the action at the altar, much more attentive to the eucharistic liturgy.

My perspective had changed.

I was out of my routine.

I saw things differently.

My vision was renewed, refreshed if you will.

Almost like a vacation.

*     *     *

 Lest you perceive this as a bit of harmless, summertime editorial fluff, let me assure you I’ve been aiming at making a serious point: We ought to use this changing-routines technique on the challenging issues of our day.

Imagine seeing one of our many hot-button issues from another viewpoint.

Pick something close to your own heart and interests — the growing wealth gap, the ecological impact of fracking for oil, the need for health care reform, gun control (or gun owners’ rights), you name it.

But let’s not let the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman trial go by without thinking what we might have done — how we might have 
reacted — were we in the shoes of either the young black teen who was shot to death or the neighborhood watchman who was acquitted in the case.

Then let’s go further.

Take different seats

Let’s put ourselves in the chairs of those who felt it necessary to have “stand your ground” laws, who put neighborhood watchmen on their streets, who feel they must live in a gated community to feel safe.

Let’s recall a time when perhaps we  were a “minority” and transfer our feelings at that time to those whose skin color, speech, dress make them stand out as strangers, as different, all the time.

Consider what that must be like.

And then be open to the changed outlook that comes when we are out of our routine, when we see things differently, when our vision is renewed, refreshed if you will.