“GIGO”, Garbage in-garbage out, is a phase used in the world of computer programming. It means that your results are only as good as the raw material that you put in. In our modern world there’s no shortage of “garbage” to put into our minds and bodies. Garbage in-garbage out.
As we prepare for the arrival of the Son of God, we do our best to get ourselves ready. But sometimes it’s an uphill climb. Reality TV. Endless ads touting the latest stuff that we just have to have or our Christmas won’t be complete. The evening news tells us that we’re going to hell in a hand basket. It’s enough to make you wonder if it’s all worth it. Sometimes “Silent night, holy night” seems like a naive pipe dream.
But, this isn’t anything new. In an interview for Liguorian Magazine in October, 1992, famous author Henri Nouwen had this to say:
If you want to follow Jesus…[you must] control what you take in every day. When you are on the bus or subway, or in your car, why busy your mind with television and radio? Somehow you have to decide what your mind will receive. I don’t mean you shouldn’t ever go to the movies or watch television, but control what enters your mind and heart. It’s not just a question of pushing bad things out but a question of holding on to something really good.
It is good to have a prayer on your lips wherever you go. There are so many moments in life when you are free to pray. When you are waiting for the cashier in the supermarket, getting mad because he or she doesn’t hurry, say a little prayer. ‘Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ Take that prayer with you wherever you go.”
Remember, Nouwen gave this interview more than seventeen years ago!
I recently had a conversation with a very wise Trappist monk. We were talking about the sin of being judgmental. Like Nouwen, he had a prayerful suggestion. He said, when you finding yourself passing judgment on someone else, stop and bless that person. If you’re like me and you take that advise to heart, you’ll spend a good part of your day handing out silent blessings.