Friday, June 8, 2012

It Is All About Relationships Featured

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I set myself up to be roundly criticized. You see, I do not use the self-serve lanes at a gas station. I do not use the self check out at the grocery store. I do not use the ATM at a bank to make deposits or payments. I only use the self-serve kiosk at the airport because some airlines demand that you use them. Some may say that I am counter-cultural, others might say that I am old-fashioned, some might think of me as pain in the rear.

It has nothing to do with the advancements made in technology. I am not afraid of ATMs or self-serve kiosks or pumping my own gas. I am not opposed to ordering things off the internet. The reason I choose to do the things that I do is because in my life and in my world I have come to believe that, more than ever, we need people and we need relationships, even if they seem superficial and weak.

I used to do all of my banking in a way that I would never see or speak with a teller or anyone associated with the bank. I used to pull into the self-serve lane at a gas station so I could save the few cents on a tank of gas. I was fine with going through the self-serve kiosk at a food store to avoid the lines that flowed from the so-called "Express"

lanes and the regular lanes. I was totally fine with joining the rest of the people in embracing these things that made service better and the experience more enjoyable.

However, as a Pastor of a large parish I have come to see where my actions have tended to lead me in the direction of a "relationship-less"

society. What I hear from so many people is that they are seeking community, they crave hospitality and some are starved of relationship.

The more that I wandered to "interraction-less" business the more I saw my own world becoming less enjoyable. What I need in my life is people and relationships. What others need from me is my presence and a relationship.

I do not criticize others for their choices. I just ask that they do not criticize me. There is no greater joy than walking into the local supermarket and being recognized by the workers. The few minutes of conversation with the cashiers is always a grand experience. The more they get to know me and the more I get to know them the more animated such conversations become. I need those cashiers in my life and I need a relationship with them. One particular cashier at the local Co-op calls me "sweetie" and refers to me as her boyfriend. How many people can say they get such attention? What I do know is that the attention I receive would never have happened if I had insisted in using a faceless machine to check out as quick as I could and make my exit.

The other day I was at the bank and made my credit card payment at the teller's desk. The person informed me that it would be much easier for me if I just went to the ATM and made the transaction there. I concurred with her. Yes it would be easier. But then I said, "If I did that there are two things that would happen. First is that if everybody used the ATMs there would be no need for tellers and you would not have a job.

Secondly, if I always use the ATM I would never have the opportunity to wish you a happy weekend." After I finished she blushed, she smiled and then said, "Fr. David you just made my day."

Like I said before, I do not criticize folk who have embraced new technology and the things that are out there that make things go quicker. I chose to be a priest. I chose people. And, I continue to choose to be present to people. In the end it is all about relationships and I bless God for the cashiers, the tellers, the gas pump jockeys, and all the others who put themselves in my daily life.

Thank God that when this life is over and I can discard the iphone and the computer and the credit and debit cards and the machines that I will have a group of folks whom I know with which to enjoy the Kingdom. It really is, always has been and always will be, about relationships.

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