“May we never yield to the temptation to disregard others...instead, may we strive daily, in concrete and practical ways, to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another.”
Thanks to some very kind and generous friends, our family was able to enjoy some days at the beach this last week. It was our first time staying at this shore point and we loved exploring all of its charm. One day, we noticed some of our temporary neighbors staring at us from across the street. At some point, one of them came over while our two older daughters were outside playing and told the girls that we couldn’t park on the street. Our dutiful eldest came in and reported the information. I looked outside and noticed lots of cars parked on the street. We hadn’t received anything in the prior three days nor was there a sign in sight. Wiped from a full day at the beach and enjoying a cold beer, I thought I would take my chances and leave my car on the street. My risk was rewarded with a $54 ticket the next morning. As I gasped in horror at the amount, the neighbor came over with his dog and said, "I tried to tell your kid." I conceded that I neglected his advice and asked where the sign was that indicated no parking. "Oh, it’s when you first pull into town. But it’s a tiny sign. You just have to know."
As I found a new parking spot, I couldn’t figure out with whom I was more frustrated, myself and my laziness or this quaint little town and their tiny sign that no one sees. How is that welcoming to someone new? How could it be that you "just have to know?" And then I thought about the number of times I hear that same feedback about a parish, and even once or twice from new people who start at Catholic Leadership Institute. That there’s a secret code or you have to find your own way. In my leadership, how well do I articulate, and continue to articulate, all of expectations and attributes of the community before penalizing people for not living up to them? Do I personally model all the behaviors to help others be successful and cultivate the other necessary "neighbors" to help fill in any gaps? I briefly thought about fighting the ticket but quickly realized it might be a better use of time to keep an eye out for the next person pulling into the neighborhood. Here’s to keeping an eye out for each other this week.