The Medium Is the…Carvel Cake

Part of the genius of our good family friend Fr. Bob Brennan is that he knows exactly how to deliver a message. Fr. Bob has had his share of maladies, and he is the first to offer sympathy when anyone is suffering. He has a keen sense of in what way each individual suffers, and he takes tremendous joy in ministering to those in need.

When I had my first knee surgery in July 2011, Fr. Bob called very soon after I returned home to ask how I was, and he offered the expected get-well wish. However, he knows me. And because of this, he realized that the pain wouldn’t be an issue; instead, waiting to resume my regular (sometimes frenzied) level of activity would be difficult for me. So Fr. Bob hand-delivered this card: the most delicious card I have ever tasted.

Patience cake

Note the message: “Maura ‘Patience!’.” Not the traditional “get well soon” with flowers and frilly wishes, not even a comical greeting designed to make me laugh. No, Fr. Bob knew exactly what I (his audience) needed. I needed to hear (and see, and taste) that patience is necessary. The medium he chose in order to convey this message was perfect. Patience has always been one of my personal challenges; Fr. Bob, knowing me so well, also knows that Carvel cake is one of my favorite things in the world, ranking right up there with Roy Rogers roast beef sandwiches. Fr. Bob could have chosen to give me a lecture on the theological virtue of patience, or he could have warned me against impatience. Instead, he conveyed his message in the medium that was best suited to my needs and tastes at the time.

From Fr. Bob, I learned that conveying a message accurately is paramount. In addition, I learned that the audience will ignore or, even worse, misinterpret the message if it’s not conveyed in a tone, style, and genre that is meaningful and appropriate to the audience.

I responded well to Fr. Bob’s message. Here’s exactly what I thought of what he said, and how he said it.

Patience eaten

Although I’m now waiting to finally be done with my crutches after my third knee surgery, I remember Fr. Bob’s message. How could I forget? Patience is its own sweet reward.

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