TV misfortune was really a blessing in disguise

Categories: From the Director

I feel that I’m closer to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Last February, God caused a malfunction in our television’s satellite receiver.

Do I sound crazy saying this? Did you raise your eyebrows when you read it? I mean, why would I blame God for such an insignificant and very earthly problem?

Well, to set things straight from the beginning, I don’t blame God at all — I thank God profusely. Beyond that, what happened was not — and is not — insignificant.

Since moving to our modest home along the shore of the Mississippi River, Mary Beth and I have become early risers. We weren’t always so, but a rather large, east-facing window in our bedroom — through which the beauty of God’s creation pours into our home, our eyes and our hearts every morning — makes it difficult to sleep in.

Every day the Author of Love paints a masterpiece, rich in patterns and colors I can barely describe, and set on an easel less than 80 feet from our pillows. Oh yes, and it’s animated — with a sound track. Birds chide and scold one another as they redecorate an old home or create a new one. Rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks boldly defy MB’s strict rules with regard to flowerbeds, woodpiles, rhubarb and the space beneath our sauna.

Despite rising early, I’ve noticed that the older I get, the longer it takes for me to become fully awake. Therefore, I might spend some time stretching on the floor, perhaps doing a couple of sit-ups and maybe even a push-up or two. This less-than-severe regimen would include trips to and from the coffee pot. Until February, it also included flipping on the TV and staring blank-faced at “Mike & Mike,” a sports talk show on the ESPN network.

Please know that after 30 or 40 minutes of football, baseball and basketball scores, the TV would go black and Mary Beth would join me for daily readings from “The Word Among Us” followed by our daily prayers. But, oh, the hours I’ve wasted over the years with Mike and the other Mike!

On the fateful morning of God’s splendid intervention, I hit the remote but there was no response. I didn’t hear the usual “ping” that heralds the faces and voices to come. I looked at the television screen and then at the receiver and noticed the little red light was not lit. It was dead.

“Mary Beth,” I called, “I think the TV receiver went kaput.” “Really?” she replied. She asked what I would like to do about it. I pondered this a bit before answering her with another question: “What does the satellite service cost per month?” MB tends to the bills. She told me how much it costs. “Cancel it,” I said.

Now, I literally watched three programs with any regularity when the TV was still receiving a signal: the aforementioned Mikes; “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” (a show about restaurants and cooking, hosted by a tubby, tattooed chef who my mother would have labeled, “hyperkinetic”), and “American Restoration” (about a guy in Nevada who, along with some family members and assorted reprobates, restores just about anything under the sun of interest to collectors, such as scooters, old toys, neon signs, tractors, mail boxes, gas tanks, golf carts — the list is endless).

“Are you sure you want to cancel?” she asked. Mary Beth knew I had the doggone thing on a lot of the time, just for background noise. “We’re paying a lot of money for nothing,” I answered. “I can get by without it.” I learned, however, that habits can be hard to break.

For the first couple of weeks I didn’t know what to do with myself in the morning, absent the inanity of the world informing me with great fistfuls of nothing.

But as I got used to the blissful quiet, things changed radically. Mornings became a mini-retreat, with ample time to listen to what God had to say to my heart. Prayer time for MB and me expanded, leading to serious, fruitful discussions about “tomorrow,” as retirement looms for both of us in the not-too-distant future. I feel that I’m closer to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I know for certain that I’m much less “of the world.”

Good stewards, my prayer for you today is that your receiver will go kaput. God bless!