Recycling Trumps Richard Rohr (at least for me)

Readers of this blog know that I’ve been excited about hearing Richard Rohr speak in Atlanta this coming Saturday at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip. Indeed, if you are in Atlanta and are free on Saturday, I would encourage you to go — although it’s my understanding that the response has been so great that they’ve had to move the event from the fellowship hall into the Cathedral nave.

But, as it turns out, I won’t be there.

A couple of months ago my wife and I learned that the city of Decatur (just up the road from us) hosts semi-annual Electronics Recycling Days. These events provide environmentally and socially responsible recycling opportunities for families and businesses to dispose of computers, printers, televisions, stereo components, cell phones and other telephones, batteries, and various other items.

Because we hate to throw stuff out, we have literally been hoarding broken down computer and other electronics equipment for the past decade. Our garage is full of the stuff. When we learned of the Recycling Days, we resolved that we would lug all our stuff to it the next time it happened.

And, of course, it’s tomorrow, October 24 — right when Rohr is speaking.

Sure, we could wait until the next Recycling Day, probably next April, but we want to keep our promise to ourselves (and if you saw the condition of our garage, you’d understand why). I know other opportunities to hear Father Richard will present themselves (and actually, he’s speaking at a Catholic Church on Sunday evening, but he’s talking about the Emergent Church which we figure will just be a summary of the conference we attended last March).

So if you’re going to hear Richard speak, sorry we’ll miss you. I’m sure he’ll give a wonderful presentation. But since he’s a Franciscan friar, I imagine he would heartily approve of recycling as the reason why someone couldn’t make it out to hear him.

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  • zoecarnate

    Soo, I’m not sure I understand. It’s a day with Richard Rohr, no? And recycling – even a whole garage worth c0uldn’t take more than 30 minutes if you were packed the night before, no? I must be missing something…

    Y’know, you should go to his speaking at the Catholic gathering anyway. Even if you’ve heard that talk before, it might be a great opportunity to connect with some local emerence-minded Catholics.

  • arulba

    I’ve heard Rohr speak on several occasions in California and once in Austin. No way would I value recycling over Rohr! If ever I return to Christianity, Rohr will most definitely be the most influential catalyst. I have never met anyone like him! One of my all time favorite books is Jesus’ Plan for a New World. I just started reading The Naked Now and have broke down crying several times within the first 20 pages. This guy has got a handle on non-dualism and Christianity like no one else I’ve ever encountered.

    Hey! But have fun recycling.

  • Carl McColman

    Sigh, Mike, do I really have to justify my decisions to you? Okay, here goes.
    1. Rohr is only speaking for four hours, not an entire day.
    2. Yes, it is an entire garage full of stuff, including about 6 broken down computers, a 27 inch TV, and various old stereo equipment (all in various stages of non-functionality), plus various smaller items. Yes, Fran and I are as much part of the consumer combine as anyone else. As I said in the post, we hate throwing stuff out, especially stuff full of toxic elements, and so we have literally a dozen years’ worth of old consumer electronics to deal with. This will easily take more than one trip, even with our van.
    3. Loading and unloading that amount of stuff is dirty, sweaty work. It’s not like I’m going to just go drop it off and than sally on to the Cathedral.
    4. The Rohr event costs 40 dollars. Despite (or maybe because of) having a garage full of broken down electronics, Fran and I try to live frugally on a by-Atlanta-standards modest income, which means we have to consider the value of even that small of an expenditure. I don’t see the point of spending that amount of money for an event that I will easily miss half (or more) of.
    5. Finally, we are due to be at a wedding in North Georgia at 4 PM. It’s a close family friend and I don’t want to miss the wedding. I had thought about attending Rohr and then heading straight to the wedding (another reason why I couldn’t go to Rohr wearing sweaty recycling wear), but I would literally have to dash out of the Cathedral promptly at 2 PM to make it; thus negating any opportunity to schmooze with friends (or Rohr) after the event (he’s a celebrity, you know there will be a massive line). Conversely, by not attending the Rohr event, Fran and Rhiannon and I get to drive to North Georgia in one vehicle rather than two (more environmentally responsible) and won’t feel as rushed about it.
    6. As for as packing the night before, remember our van is Rhiannon’s only mode of transportation. If an emergency arose, we would be vulnerable had we filled it with stuff that then needed to be removed. Because Rhiannon herself doesn’t drive, our emergency contingencies (which, with her health conditions, are real concerns we must be prepared for) involve not waiting for an ambulance, but us driving her to the hospital. Which we can’t do with a vehicle loaded with recycling.
    7. As for tomorrow: I’ll likely sleep in after being at a wedding party late tonight; I have a standing commitment to visit my father in Athens every Sunday (and tomorrow Fran and Rhiannon will go there with me, and everything takes longer when Rhiannon is involved); plus I have mass to attend. I don’t see the point of adding one more thing to an already full day, especially to hear a talk I am likely already familiar with. Remember, at my position at the Abbey Store I already have abundant opportunities to network with cool Catholics…

    Finally, Mike, keep in mind that I’m 20 years older than you and probably don’t have the same level of energy you do; particularly with the challenges of caring for Rhiannon. As much as I admire Rohr and his work, I don’t feel the need to be a “Rohr-head,” attending every possible event at which he speaks. Fran and I have learned (the hard way) the fine art of not doing too much. This means saying “no” to a lot of wonderful opportunities. But this is something, as I’ve learned from the monks, that has its own beauty. It’s related to kenosis and to asceticism. There’s a simplicity in guarding our time so that our life is characterized by leisure rather than by hurry, and that simplicity is essential to maintaining a contemplative practice. I’m not very good at it, but I’m learning and I’m trying.

    PS. Where’s the money you owe me? :-) Darrell’s paid his share…

  • Mike Morrell

    So…reading between the lines, had I paid you on time, you would have been able to go to Rohr. :)

    LOL – this is a master’s-level dissertation on time well-spent, and there’s much I can learn from your decision-making process. For whatever it’s worth, you have my approval for why you aren’t making it. That and $3.99 will buy you an overpriced coffee!

    • Carl McColman

      Well, it’s 10:30 AM and I’m about to leave for the recycling center. The good news is that, despite my dire assessment of it earlier, it really is only one van-load (albeit a full one). But the bad news is that, between Fran helping the CNA get Rhiannon up, and just going through all our clutter in the garage (electronic and otherwise), it’s taken us this long just to get loaded. So, alas, even if I had tried it, getting to the Cathedral this AM just wouldn’t have worked.

      At almost 50 years, I’m still learning the basics of time management: focus on what’s important and urgent, don’t try to do too much, prioritize, prioritize, prioritize, and build in plenty of leisure time (doubly important for those of us seeking to maintain a daily contemplative practice). Sorry if my earlier reply sounded testy or snarky, that’s a result of my really wanting to go hear Richard and feeling the sting of not doing so, even though I think not doing so is for the best. Incidentally, regarding time management, see the quotes I posted in my blog for today. And no, money isn’t the main issue, except that I’m Scottish and so I have to keep my friends close and my debtors even closer! :-) Love you dearly.

  • phil foster

    You were missed. Good seeing old acquaintances (both therapist and ministerial types), a couple of old clients, and making 2 new connections. Clearly, Rohr (my first contact of any kind – I have not read his work) is a light. He quoted “my old friends,” poets Wm. Stafford, Mary Oliver and David Whyte. He delivered his obligatory schemata with due humility and caveats. He shared of himself in a less narcissistic fashion than I do when I present; he was appropriately vulnerable. and heartful. I could have done much worse things with my time. Thanks for encouraging me to attend.

  • Carl McColman

    Glad you enjoyed it, Phil, and thanks for the good word. Hope we’ll be able to talk soon so I can hear more.

  • Darrell Grizzle

    Phil, I thought of you as Fr. Rohr was reading Mary Oliver’s poem – and then I discovered you were sitting just a few pews away!

  • phil foster

    D – It is indeed a miraculous universe. So grateful to see you. Peace.