My only New Year Resolution is to refrain from saying, “It’s too much trouble.” I am one of those people who lament the fact that things aren’t as good as they used to be. Think of all the details that enhanced our life’s experience that are no longer appreciated. From ornate architecture to personal appearance, we do not take the time or effort to do the little things that turn functional into special.
I marvel at the skilled detail early carpenters and masons incorporated into homes and storefronts centuries ago. Decorative millwork was done by hand without power tools and fancy equipment we see in modern shops today. Unless you are a high-end contractor, you probably do not know the terms bargeboard, haunch, or tympanum. New construction, at least in our rather low-income area, no longer includes eave brackets, pilasters, or mansard roofs. These things have fallen out of fashion despite the fact that contemporary manufacturing techniques would make them simple to construct compared to the labor necessary two hundred years ago. If cost is not the major detriment, why do we now seem to favor functionality over beauty? Perhaps it is just too much trouble.
Children and adults once dressed in their Sunday best for going to church or even social events. If you have ever watched a movie clip of a major league baseball game in the Babe Ruth era, you will see white shirts and neckties on the men in the stands. Few boys today likely own a suit or necktie anymore. Women wore dresses in public with few exceptions. Customs change over the years and dressing up is now considered an unnecessary burden.
As life becomes easier, we tend to get lazier. We don’t have to work as hard, so we don’t appreciate hard work. Why put in the extra effort if no one notices? Decorations have become simplified. Instead of doing the Clark Griswold theme on the house at Christmas, now we can set one laser light on the front lawn and shine beams on the whole façade. Ten minutes work and we are done.
Our church dinners were once a time for unification. We used real plates, cups and saucers, and passed food in serving bowls. Cleanup time and doing dishes afterwards was when we bonded with our fellow parishioners. Now we use paper plates and Styrofoam coffee cups. Most folks just leave when they finish eating.
Even our family dinners have suffered. Too many distractions have left little time for parents and children to share a meal together.
Mass attendance is down. For many Catholics, fitting Sunday Mass into their busy schedule is too much trouble. As God has been pushed aside by our society, taking time for worship is no longer top priority for many. Church décor has been simplified to the point where the magnificence of God’s majesty is lost in the mundane. Many of our newer Sanctuaries fail to reflect the incredible beauty of their inhabitant.
In this new year, I want to take the time to appreciate how hard work reflects the beauty of our creator. To settle for less is an injustice to the natural beauty that surrounds us. Instead of looking for an easier way, let me look for a better way. Help me make the extra effort, go the extra mile, and inspire others to do the same. May it never be too much trouble.