Paul Moore: Threads of connection
In My Father’s House / By Paul Thomas Moore
Every day I hold on to my health, my happiness, my marriage, my peace of mind, my finances, by the slenderest of threads. There’s no particular matter of concern for me in any of these areas right now, today. It’s just that life has taught me that anything can happen any day.
As Roseanne Roseannadanna of Saturday Night Live used to say, “It’s always something!” (The character’s creator, the late Gilda Radner, said the catchphrase was her father’s favorite expression about life.)
Take COVID, that massive threat to public health that masquerades as a slender viral thread. You can’t see it, hear it, smell it, and if you touch it you won’t feel it. If you’re one of the lucky ones, it might not even harm you. However, if COVID finds its way into your respiratory tract, it might put you in bed for a couple of days, or it may choose to put you in a casket.
Still, slender threads can heal as well as hurt. The masks that help protect us and others are composed of fibers that when woven together inhibit viral passage. Moreover, these masks are affixed by threads of elastic looping around the ear. (It’s such a common sight these days to see people in cars with a mask hanging off one ear, like an athlete toying with a mouthguard between plays.)
MEDICAL, SOCIAL MEDIA THREADS
I complain — and no doubt will again — about the occasionally surreal cost of medications and medical care. However, modern medicine has spawned minor miracles like minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery that can catch cancer before it threads a few millimeters through a membrane and spreads a destructive path into and beyond the lymph nodes.
In the same way, I must admit I personally have benefited from the threads of hope that come with medications for easier breath, blood pressure and headaches. Furthermore, what about the positive properties of much-maligned social media threads?
I and others have mocked the overindulgence of diving down rabbit holes of online distraction to the exclusion of living actual offline life. Admittedly though, at their very least, social media are a testament to how much we need one another, and that our blessings simply aren’t as much fun if we can’t share them.
Certainly, we have to be on our guard against communicating a plastic perfection that may depress others, but simply sharing genuine joy with a photo of a spring flower, or gathering virtually ‘round a friend who’s grieving a loss . . . these are good impulses of human generosity and reinforce the threads that connect us.
THE ROSARY’S CORD TO OUR LORD, OUR LADY
Alternately, there are temptations to feel less the threads that connect us to our fellow human beings — for instance, when we get behind the wheel of a car. Car advertising perpetuates the myth that it’s all about me, my machine, and the open road. Maybe that helps to explain why some people weave in and out of traffic at 70 miles an hour on the interstate as if in a video game, perhaps not comprehending that here, if you crash and burn, you can’t just click reset.
Of course, that’s just one more good reason to say the rosary while driving. For safety purposes, I count it using my fingers as opposed to holding the beads.
The rosary for me is a circular thread that always leads me safely home. When I hold my rosary, I look up to Heaven from earth, and I sense a cord of connection to Our Lord and Our Lady. I dare to imagine giving the line between us a little tug, and feel their peaceful presence in the answering pressure.
Finally, I almost deleted this column, and I reached out with a thread of hope to my wife, who helped me restore it. “Lord, give us this day thy daily thread . . .”
PAUL THOMAS MOORE is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.