Ten years ago, I was driving home from work on a Friday afternoon. It was a little later than usual, but, because it was summer, there were still a couple of hours of daylight remaining in what was an especially beautiful South Florida day. In fact, it was so nice that I quickly abandoned the highway I customarily took home in favor of a more scenic route – a series of residential streets that wound their way through some of the most affluent, albeit sidewalk-less, neighborhoods in all of South Miami. It was a picture-perfect afternoon in ever respect, but one: There wasn’t a single human being in sight – no children playing in the yards or streets, no mothers or fathers playing with their children, no one out walking their dogs or “strolling” their infants, no one swimming, running, walking, riding their bikes – absolutely no sign of life!
I could hardly believe my eyes, let alone control the urge to share what I was or, more precisely, what I wasn’t seeing and so I did something I had never done before – I picked up the phone and called a radio talk show! But I didn’t call just any show. You see, while this surrealistic scene was playing out before me, my radio dial was tuned, as it almost never was, to a local radio talk show hosted by the head of the music ministries at the Catholic Church our family was attending at the time. Moreover, as fate would have it, his in studio guest that day was the Pastor of our church. As I recall, the topic of discussion was something having to do with the Holy Spirit. However, likely due in part to the fact that they had managed to generate no audience participation, the show eventually devolved into a meeting of the “Mutual Admiration Society” – guest for host and host for guest.
That is until the phone rang . . .
Host: “Oh, I see we have a caller. Good afternoon. What’s on your mind?”
Me: “I know this really isn’t on topic, but I’ve been driving around the neighborhoods surrounding the church for the past 20 minutes and I have yet to see a single human being! I’m not exaggerating. I mean not one human being. And I’m wondering if either of you can help me understand why, on an absolutely gorgeous South Florida summer afternoon, parents aren’t outside playing with their children, children aren’t outside playing with each other, no one is walking, swimming, running, being neighborly, etc.? I’d also be interested in knowing whether you think that’s a problem and, if so, what role, if any, the Church can play in finding a solution to it.”
Dead silence. Some nervous laughter around “Wow, that’s quite a lot to try and digest all at once, particularly on a Friday afternoon!”A little more awkward small talk followed by: “Unfortunately, we’re just about out of time today, but those are certainly some valid topics for a future show. We really appreciate the call.” Click.
Two days later, I heard a mind-numbing Homily on purgatory. It’s was all a bit much, so I went home and penned a letter, which I will share with you tomorrow.