The following is a companion blog post to T.J. Capaldi's Spoken Word piece, "The First and the Last," which was one of twelve semi-finalists in our Virtual Talent Show FUNdraiser. You can view the piece HERE.
There's a thin line between comedy and reality.
You know you're on that line when you're not sure if you're laughing because something is absurd or because it is true. Sometimes the laughter comes from recognition of the harmony between the absurd and the true.
Just like the man described in the piece "didn't know the first thing," I didn't know that I would stumble on this kind of harmony when I set out to write something for the 2020 ECHO Virtual Talent Show FUNdraiser Extravaganza.
If you've watched/listened to the piece already, then you know the backstory. I have been reflecting on two new experiences: (1) using dating apps on my phone, and (2) extreme "social distancing."
Something about using a swipe-style dating app where you have to "check yes or no" so to speak on one person at a time is very exciting. It's also rather disconcerting, or at least it was to me. That's not to say these apps are immoral in and of themselves or that no one should use them. I definitely would NOT say that. To be honest, I see a lot of good in some of them, and quite a bit of redeemable value in the whole concept.
Still, I couldn't shake this feeling. Was it the weight of the decisions? The possible implications? The missed opportunities? Yes, it was and is all of that and more. In the moments when I began to lose sight of the humanity behind the profile, fear came to the surface. I was afraid of myself and what I knew I could become.
One on hand, Sacred Scripture is clear: "Judge not lest ye be judged" (Matthew 7:1). On the other hand, everyday life is filled with situations which require each of us to make judgments. Some are trivial. Some are rather significant. The distinction between the judging we must do and the judging we must NOT do is a difficult and complex one which would perhaps be better treated by a book than a blog post. There is no question however that such a distinction exists.
And so, I would draw your attention to the conclusion of the piece. It contains two prayers. The first is a prayer to judge carefully ("not haphazardly") especially when it concerns your neighbor. The second is a prayer to judge in context. In other words, even if I press the "X" instead of the heart symbol on the dating app, can I still have love and reverence in my heart for the person on the other side of that profile? I hope so, but I need help. And so I turn to the Lord in prayer.
Yes, it may feel a little bit absurd to have the conversation this way, but the sentiment is true. The question of how and when we judge applies to more than just online dating. It goes far beyond dating in general. "For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you." (Matthew 7:2) What are the judgments in your life that may require a deeper level of discernment and prayer on your part?
As we continue to journey through the rest of this virus pandemic (May the Lord swiftly bring it to an end!), I invite you to walk with me on the thin line between comedy and reality.
It is on this line that we can face the truth with a smile. It is on this line that we can keep up hope in the midst of uncertainty.
We are beyond blessed with an amazing community of teens, young adults, priests, consecrated men and women, and families who are striving to live out Christ's invitation to authentic love and who have gifts to share their journeys through writing.