A wise old carpenter was teaching a brash young boy some of the finer points of joinery. The sage asked the boy to pound a bunch of nails into a block of wood, which the young buck did with great gusto.
“Now take them out” said the sage. After having done so, the young boy asked, “What now?”
“What do you see?” asked the sage.
“A block of wood with nail holes in it” came the reply.
“Now remove the holes” instructed the sage.
“That’s impossible!” snorted the younger one.
“Indeed it ’tis,” said the sage, “and just as impossible to take back the things we do and the words we say.”
The Cure d’Ars has a similar story about giving the town gossip the penance of taking a feather pillow to the top of a belltower and scattering the feathers to the winds. (You see the train coming?).
Just as with the nail holes and the feathers scattered to the four winds, public facing emails once exposed, (cc:, originally carbon copy, literally meaning sheets of carbon paper between the sheets of stationary in the manual typewriter, rather than bcc: or blind carbon copy, not visible for the “to” recipients), cannot be “reclaimed” from the lists of emails “harvested” which spammers sell.
I so often forget that one of the most common “vehicles” we all drive today doesn’t require an “internet drivers license” similar to a motor vehicle license states require before being allowed to operate a multi-ton moving block of metal.
A dear sister-in-faith rightly pointed out, that a couple of months back, when I lashed out at the naïvité of a person who sent out a mass mailing with a public-facing list of several dozen people, me included; my tone made me guilty of lacking the Christ-like servant leadership I asked of others. Point, set, match Elissa.
She was entirely right about my tone and I apologized and shared the nail holes story. I’ve learned as much as anyone from her willingness to hold the mirror up to me. Fr. James Misko who sings w/the Compline Gregorian Chant Choir on Sundays, taught a fascinating phrase at the recent CTFCatholicmen.org Men’s fall kickoff: Capax Dei = capacity for God. Certainly Elissa & I learned more about that in our conversation.
Growth Always Increases Your Capacity
Similar to what S.I. Hiakowa said in his classic Language in Thought and Action, the discipline of learning to communicate well is its own reward.
Just some quick thoughts to round out my birthday celebration!
Until next time,