Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Seeing and hearing, we do not see or hear

6th August 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

A Farmers Insurance TV commercial came on. I had seen the commercial numerous times, but this time the end statement of the commercial floored me as if I were hearing it for the first time, “Change your washing machine hoses every five years!”

“Now they tell me!” I murmured out loud. Well, they had actually told me quite some time ago, but I was “hearing” it for the very first time. Perforce, I had to hear it that time, because the circumstances of wear and tear had finally caught up with me unceremoniously.

Shortly after 4:00 o’clock Sunday morning, I thought nature was awakening me to visit the bathroom. Actually, it had to be a foreign sound that was the culprit. In any case, I tipped into the bathroom and immediately wondered why the floor mats were wet. At the same moment, I heard the rush of water somewhere on the other side of the wall.

Walking around to the kitchen, I was startled to step into an inch of water covering the kitchen floor. A flick of the light switch revealed a watery mess that was beginning to invade the rug in the dining room. At that juncture, I called Raymond “Chico” Egana, the parish contractor, who would know what quick moves to make to arrest the water flow.

Per his suggestion, I stepped out front between the sidewalk and the street to turn off the water, but could not move the stuck, heavy iron covers. Reentering the rectory, I made directly for the kitchen to examine the source of the noise of the running water. Pulling back the washing machine, I beheld the sickening sight of a burst hose spurting water forcefully.

By the time I had grabbed a power pliers from my car and was working to cut the water off behind the hoses, Chico walked in and finished the job for me. The water stopped. With two small brooms, we pushed most of the water toward and through the back door.

After a few minutes, Chico went home to resume his sleep and I returned to bed to resume mine. On second thought, I jumped back out of bed and covered the kitchen floor with old newspapers destined to be thrown into the recycle dumpster for benefit of the school. That would suck up the remaining water and allow me to bake Communion bread.

Upon rising for Mass, I collected all the soggy papers dripping with most of the remaining water and threw them onto the garage floor. “First Restoration,” specialists who work with insurance companies in the business of water and fire control/cleanup, came into the rectory Sunday afternoon and began to remove the soaked rug from the dining room.

It came as a surprise that all the dining room portion and half of the living room part of the rug were sliced up and removed in large trash bags. Once a rug is soaked like that, the imminent threat of mold drives restoration workers to remove it and blow-dry the area. Nine well-placed fans and a big dehumidifier mimicked the roar of a large prop-airplane engine.

Frank “Paco” Norvel told me that, if I wanted to go to a hotel, our insurance would reimburse me for expenses incurred. However, I reflected that, for all the displacement of furniture and the constant roar of the fans, no 5-star hotel could hold a candle to the rectory. Furthermore, a slew of phone calls would be lost before folks began to catch up with me.

More musing alerted me to the reality that, despite all the inconveniences, I was still living like a king compared to the plight of perhaps 90 percent of the 7.1 billion people now living on earth. Frankly, I was comfortable enough to feel quite content with my lot.

Even though we see them and hear them, it is amazing how many vital, life-changing things slip past our circle of awareness, making us pay, at times dearly, for our inattention or our blasé attitude toward the people and things around us. God help us all if it takes the intrusion of water, wind or fire to snap us awake to the glaring realities of our dicey environs.

“A stitch in time saves nine,” the ancient dictum warns. However, we must be alert enough and sufficiently aware to notice the part of a garment or cloth that is unraveling or about to un­ravel. Ot­her­wise, we will pay the penalty of inconvenience and/ or loss. Such an awareness includes our own plus observations and warnings by others live or via the media.

A final note is that we must take heed lest our blasé, cavalier or slouchy attitude in things material bleed over into things spiritual in our lives. Definitely, we do not want to be on the negative, pharisaical side of Matthew 13:13, “This is why I (Jesus) speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.”

This article originally published in the August 5, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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