Third time’s a charm, I suppose.
That’s how many trips-to-the-bank were required in the past 18 hours for me to complete what had seemed at the outset to be a relatively simple task: Deposit a couple of checks.
Trip #1, about mid-Friday afternoon, was foiled when I learned the branch had shuttered at 1:00 PM “in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.”
Trip #2 occurred just after 9:00 AM Saturday – a few minutes past the posted “Hours of Operation” inscribed on the drive-thru window. A somewhat-helpful teller pointed to a paper sign posted nearby, indicating that “Temporary Reduced Hours of Operation” are now in effect…presumably due to the pandemic.
When I returned about a half-hour later for Trip #3, I discovered there was a fair amount of pent-up banking angst in my part of the world: Cars and trucks were lined up three- or four-deep in each of the drive-thru lanes.
So while waiting in line, I had plenty of time to contemplate how much less reliable the various routines of my life have become of late. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. Nor is my reflex reaction (frustration, tinged by a touch of anger) unique.
I could go with that reflex, I suppose: Nurse the grudge, simmer in the indignity a bit. Maybe even lash out, spewing invective in a mean-spirited social media post. But the Holy Spirit seems to have had other ideas in mind for me.
I guess it was the Holy Spirit, putting it on my heart to spend a little time – what the heck? – actually learning something about Juneteenth.
And maybe it was the Holy Spirit, too, who reminded me of Pope Francis’ exhortation that we not waste this odd pandemic-related downtime in our lives…that we actually take note of how beholden we become to routines; how habits – even good ones – can deaden our faith, and keep us from embracing the call to share the Good News with others.
Long about then, it occurred to me that my reflex reactions are not always the “best self” I have to offer in service of the Lord. It occurred to me, too, that I have a lot to learn. I can be – and often am – utterly blind about the sinful patterns in our culture. It takes a prophetic voice like that of Father Bryan Massingale to open my ears and eyes and heart to the possibility that I actually benefit from racism without even realizing it.
I don’t like thinking about any of that stuff. Just like I don’t enjoy having to make three trips to the bank in order to deposit two checks. But here’s the thing: Yesterday’s Juneteenth observance did in fact catch my attention. It was a necessary disruption to my routine, one that helped me begin to see things a bit more clearly…and to appreciate a perspective different from my own.
Jesus advises us to expect these sorts of teaching moments, as we labor alongside him to help make the kingdom come. In Sunday’s gospel, Jesus promises:
“Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”
So I guess all those trips to the bank were in fact an unexpected blessing – a charm, of sorts. They gave me a chance to see some things that had been hidden from my eyes…and even to begin speaking about them, in the Light.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.