Happy, Happy Friday: One Night in a Bad Hotel (February 24)

Laura McCarty

Notre Dame Alumna, Class of 2011

Contact Author


PRELUDIO: OK people, so since we have a dynamic duo of clips this week, they’ll be presented in the form of infomercial introductions:

Hey citizen!! Do you just need a laugh that doesn’t have to do with your own personal moments of awkwardness (like realizing partway through the day that you have two differently colored shoes on?) Feeling like you just need some silliness in your day? Wishing that you could watch Dennis Quaid galloping around a parking lot on national television? Wish GRANTED:

Hey you there!! Are you looking for a piece of music that’s not the musical-excitement equivalent of plain yogurt or saltine crackers? Could you really use some shamelessly triumphant music to motivate you to read 50 pages of a philosophy book (or motivate you to lock the book away in your closet)? Citizen of America, SEARCH NO MORE:

So anyway, the basic point of all this really is…HAPPY FRIDAY, PEOPLE!!!


So now that everyone’s heard Dennis Quaid say that he’s going to skip away like a pretty pony AND heard music that would make sense for a person to hear as they approached Heaven, hopefully it really feels like Friday now even if you still have a lot to get done. Don’t think about that now, darn it!! That’s the kind of thinking (or tasks) that happen on Tuesday. Actually, we can just put it this way (in list format, to help the Type A people feel better :)):


1)      Renewing your drivers’ license.

2)      Returning your bank personnel’s phone call.

3)      Doing the grocery-store-shopping equivalent of storing up for a nuclear winter.

4)      Paying attention to the annoying warning light on your car dashboard that’s been there for weeks and could mean 45 unique things that need to be done to fix your car.

5)      Taking care of the ONE errand that requires you to drive 45 minutes into the boondocks of your hometown to accomplish (for example, going to the refrigerator store that’s the only one in town but for some reason was built in between a few acres of corn fields. You get the idea).

These are all things that can be done on a Tuesday, as long as you stop to get a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream on the way home. Something to take the edge off, right? But really, people: even when your tax forms are waiting, life still has ice cream (and for people who gave that up for Lent, at least there’s oxygen. That’s better than ice cream). And now we can keep moving along.

THE HEART OF THE EMAIL: Or, One Night in a Bad Hotel

Youtube clip of the week (yes, it’s Audrey Assad two weeks in a row, but this song’s perfect for a dreary February day. Feel the JOY):

Saint Teresa of Avila once said that from the perspective of Heaven, even the most miserable earthly life looks like one night in an inconvenient hotel. Sure, the hot water doesn’t work, you don’t get your food on time, and the radiator clangs: well, it’s not home. What we couldn’t imagine tolerating in our own home, we can bear for a night, knowing that we’ll be home sooner than we think. It doesn’t excuse the inconvenience of our temporary home, nor does it excuse us from trying our best to make improvements to the space around us: but we are just travelers. We can help the situation at hand with our patience and our perseverance, but it doesn’t deserve to rule our hearts. It isn’t what we were made for.

It’s hard, really, to think of what the perspective on earthly life must be from eternity. It’s like that experiment in psychology where they give little kids a choice between having one cookie right now or two cookies in ten minutes (or something like that). Kids will grab at the immediate cookie, and it takes them a few years to understand that by waiting it out, their reward will be greater even if they have to bear with nothing for the time being. Some things (like two cookies) are worth the wait. The thought of those two cookies gives those kids patience with their present situation, and the hope of Heaven can give us patience in the present day. Going through something difficult, wrenching, or frustrating? As a friend of mine said, “Bad night, bad hotel.”

We’re like those little kids who will grab for the cookie right away: after all, “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” But will we cling to our scrawny bird if we know that, by letting it go, we’ll free our hands for something so much more beautiful? It’s a daring risk, to be sure: this world is all we’ve ever known, right? Isn’t this bird we’ve got now a worthy catch? Can’t we make our place in the world into a pretty good meal here and now?

But won’t you be hungry again? After you’ve heard that new CD a few times or worn that new jacket, are you still hungry? After that new friendship with that person, are you still not entirely content? Can that object, that hobby, even that person, not answer that last and deepest desire in your heart? You’ve always been let down, but in a way that makes you happier than you were before. As G.K. Chesterton puts it:

“The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy like a bird in spring.”

Folks: we’re a people who’s learned to make the best of winter when we’ve never experienced a spring and aren’t even sure if it could be real. We’re a people who live in black and white who are suspicious of the hope for real colors. What if, as C.S. Lewis said, there is an answer for the hungers and thirsts of our hearts as well as our bodies? We’ve only ever lived in the hotel: we’ve never been home, not really. But we can’t set up our hotel as if it could be a true home. It’s like how any old person can stay in a hotel, but a home is something that a person belongs in, that often reflects them at their most real and tells about them in a way that no other environment can. Well, if we can design ourselves a home here, and God knows us better than we know ourselves, we can only imagine the Home that He has created for us, for all eternity. We will belong there as we have never belonged anywhere here on Earth. To end with some words from a favorite hymn of mine (My Shepherd Will Supply My Need):

“The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days. O may Your House be my abode, and all my works be praise. There would I find a sheltered rest, while others go and come: no more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home.”

My friends: this is no idle daydream. This is hope, and hope believes in the truth even when the truth is unseen. If God’s infinite glory can be contained in a Man for love of us, and He has told us that He has gone ahead to prepare a place for us, we can take Him at His Word. The springtime of our hope is coming: it will not always be winter.

And friends, I send along as ever my


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