I was in our local grocery store, Martins, a few weeks back doing some work in their cafe. One of the real benefits of Katie starting her photography business in our house is I've been forced to move my office to places like Martins that strongly encourage you to eat and drink while you work. Clearly a lot of men are facing similar challenges, or have empty refrigerators, because the place was packed that day with men tapping away on keyboards.
An older gentleman I hadn't noticed working at a table in front of me got up to leave. When he had his gear gathered together and was ready to depart, he turned around and looked at me.
"That hat stand for North Dakota?" he asked.
Oh the wise guys who love to poke fun at us Notre Dame fans. I smiled and exposed the true identity of the hat. "It stands for Notre Dame."
"Did you go there?" he asked.
Then I gave him my standard one-liner, "No, Notre Dame football is just all that remains of my Catholic upbringing."
This fella didn't laugh like other people do. Not even a chuckle. It was closer to a tight lipped grimace if I was really forced to draw his reaction.
The gentleman proceeded to tell me he got his Masters Degree from Notre Dame. Then he started spouting off stats and personal memory highlights of some of the Notre Dame football all-time greats. He was a walking ND - and I'm not talking North Dakota - history book. It was like grocery shopping with Knute Rockne. Short of handing me the winning ticket from the previous night's Mega Millions drawing, nothing will make you my best friend quicker.
"What's your name?" I asked him.
"You from around here, Marty?"
No, but I work here in town.
"Oh yea, where do you work?"
I'm a pastoral associate at St. Ann's Catholic Church
I spent a few minutes telling Mr. Moran how I really appreciated my Catholic upbringing. How it introduced me to the faith I have today. It was holy backpedaling is what it was, but Mr. Moran didn't seem to need it. He was more than forgiving. He didn't break out a portable confession booth or anything, but I could tell he held no grudges about my Notre Dame and growing up Catholic crack from earlier.
I went on to tell Mr. Moran a little bit about what I did for a living. We shared some stories about little guys playing t-ball; he has a grandson Ian's age who plays in the same league Ian does. We talked hobbies and March Madness. I even told him about my Book of Dadverbs project I'm working on. Before I knew it a half hour had been shot, but wonderfully so. I'd been introduced to another benefit of the home office away from home - more than endless diet cokes there are some very cool people hanging out there.
A couple of weeks letter I discovered how great.
If you're ever wondering if someone was listening to you when you told them about your passion for being a dad and then writing about it, here's one sure-fire way to know they were. Like Marty Moran, they will go home and find a little inspirational book for dads called You Have What It Takes and then mail it to your house. When I opened my small package from Mr. Moran, I was struck by how he refused to let our conversation be a moment lost in time. He cemented it with a package.
A few days ago I wrote a post about life being a story that compiles all the individual moments of our lives that intersect with one another. Today is a reminder from Marty Moran that those moments might just be the beginning, that maybe we're assigned a greater responsibility with those moments. I will assure you my life was touched by what Mr. Moran did with our moment.
Let me also note that Mr. Moran took the opportunity to stuff my envelope with a couple of St. Ann's bulletins and a Lenten prayer book. And oh, the letter below inviting me back home. Never a missed opportunity with these pastors!
Maybe you'll have a moment with someone today that you'll decide to define even further with a book, a card, or a letter. Let me assure you, you will make someone's day.