The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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September 22, 2000 Issue
Summoned to Serve

Thriving in world takes preparation

It's also good to have an imagination and to take time for prayer and action

By Tom Rinkoski

Summoned to Serve

Preparing to deal with the real world is a tough business. It demands a tough training program. Packers training camp does not look like a day at the beach to me. A primary job of parenting is preparing your kids for the real world, even though often we are reluctant to send them into it. The first task of the Green Bay Diocese's Family Life Department is to prepare people for the reality of marriage. Renew is about preparing for the "real" world. What training programs are you a part of?

For two months this summer six 20-somethings took part in an unusual training program for the real world. The New York Times reported that their training might be considered the corporate equivalent of reality-based television. Hoping to create a better, more real world prepared workforce, the Whirlpool Corp., an 89 year old company not often thought of as trendy, sentenced a group of new hires to live together in the same house. While there, they prepared more than 900 plates of food; washed 120 bags of laundry; and performed countless hours of loading and reloading Whirlpool refrigerators, dishwashers and dryers. (They could have used my house this summer, if they would have asked).

These trainees smeared their shirts with mustard, relish and ketchup. They prepared three times as much pasta as needed, simply to test microwave and convection cooking compared with the time-honored stovetop method. (By the way, how do you test to see if your pasta is done? Are you a taster or tosser?) Who knew that one of the company's newest dishwashers was so powerful that when an entire carrot cake was set among the dishes the cake would entirely evaporate and the dishes would still come out clean? Now this is reality training Living and learning at Dishwasher U.

Wonder what the spiritual equivalent of this appliance education would be? Could you imagine having your Renew group locked in a house with just a Bible, a rosary, and Mother Angelica's TV station?

Any action, practice, or even prayer life can be improved with a serious investment in preparation and training. Although, I did have a professor once who told me there was no way to adequately prepare for an Italian meal at Momma Mia's Ristorante in Boston. If married, you need to build your relationship capital with long-term investments. If a parent, you need to spend quality and quantity time in order to raise healthy, successful and holy kids. My kids would moan when my wife and I decided to attend a parenting course, because they knew we would soon be "experimenting" on them. The same principle holds true if you want to live a Christian life. You have to invest time and energy in prayer and action.

Your training might begin with talking with family and friends, then move on to reading a book or two. Perhaps you'll graduate to signing up for a parenting education program or invest a weekend in a Marriage Encounter. Think about how you were prepared for being a parent? How were you prepared for marriage? How does that compare for how you prepared for your job? My son, Brian, is jumping a lot of preparatory hoops (thanks to the new law) to get his driver's license. Yet he has no similar preparation for dating, which has an even more long-lasting impact on his life.

The most critical element of preparation is not education but imagination. Don't get me wrong, I like a well-made training videos, Power Point demonstrations, and computer generated graphics, but nothing beats a fiery imagination. This is why I included storybooks in the Intergenerational Renew Program I wrote. I feel best prepared when someone opens the doors to the future. I feel most valuable when I can excite someone's imagination. When your son swears he will build a house on the Mars, lend him your toolkit When your daughter says she is going to write the great American novel, lend her pen and paper When your teen says he will be the next Paul McCartney, get him a guitar To paraphrase Alice in Wonderland, "the way to God is doing six impossible things before breakfast." So when someone tells you taking time out for renewal is impossible, face the Red Queen.

As my most favorite author, Mark Twain, said: "Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."

(Rinkoski is the Green Bay Diocese's Family Life director.)

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