One of my happier childhood memories was the Friday experience which signalled the end of school for another week and the beginning of the weekend.
Maybe it was the sense of anticipation but the Friday was better than the weekend itself. One of the highlights was eating out of ‘the chippie’ on a Friday evening. There was only one problem - half of Derry had the same idea and the queue often extended out the door of the takeaway which could be fun in all sorts of weather.
Often it was my job as eldest to walk the long distance of five hundred yards to ‘the chippie’ to order the dinner. As the years progressed this became a more difficult operation as there were new mouths to feed in the family. Not known for the power of my memory this always necessitated the writing of a list. Usually the order comprised of two large bags of chips as standard, two fish for the Catholics in the house otherwise known as my parents. Then an assortment of curry sauce, peas and gravy, burgers and battered sausages.
To be honest I would have been lost without the list and often when going to the shop my mother had to spend time writing out in an orderly fashion all items which we to be purchased. This reliance on lists became a problem when I began work behind the counter of the local bar. So ever rapidly I had to learn to concentrate on keeping people’s orders and bringing back the correct change despite various distractions and noise. This was in the days before the tills did all the work for you.
I apologise to those I’ve shorted-changed over the years or managed to get their orders wrong. The only good thing was they couldn’t see me over the bar counter so they’re unsure of my identity even yet. Although reflecting this week some things haven’t changed because the housekeeper still sends me to the shop with a list and a warning! Experience had taught her I can’t be trusted on my own. I like to blame the reality of being too busy and having too many things buzzing about in my head. Maybe it’s the simple reality of being a man and by nature being excluded from the possibility of being able to multi-task. This brings me to the parable of Martha and Mary and the struggle and tension we all have between being busy with the daily pressures of life and needing time to listen to the voice of God. The ability to multi- task doesn’t enter the picture because there are occasions when we need to give God our total and undivided attention. If we list all the priorities and activities we find ourselves involved in, from the way we live and lead our lives what statement do we make regarding what we see as necessary and vital? Jesus reminds all those who wish to remain his disciples that only one thing is necessary. We all have responsibilities but do we make time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his voice?