A Story of CASHEWS

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A young priest, recently assigned to a large suburban Catholic Parish, was preparing for his first Christmas prior to leaving the seminary. He was on, what his Monsignor boss called, “an accelerated learning experience” in understanding what it takes to run a Parish. The closer Christmas approached, the more “glad tidings” showed up at the Parish office for the two priests to share. One day, a beautiful “tin” of premium roasted & salted mixed nuts arrived. It had winter wonderland scenic mural embossed around the outside of the decorative can. The Monsignor took it back to the Rectory and placed it on the coffee table in the living room that the two priests shared. The temptation was too great to ignore so, as often as they could, the two priests thought of every conceivable reason to walk by the “tin” to complete what ever menial task at hand. Of course they had to dip into the can each time they passed it. “Waste not, want not”. Occasionally, when no one was watching, the young Associate Pastor would stop and hand-sort out a few extra cashews and wolf them down, savoring their “premium” flavor.

After a few days went by, he noticed the remaining half of mixed nuts were dramatically lacking adequate numbers of cashews necessary to create a balance in the mix. Guilt filled his soul, as he thought of his sinful, greedy nature. He began to worry the Monsignor would notice and lecture him on the evils of self indulgence. His mind raced and finally he decided he would right his wrong the very next day so he drove the Parish van to the local grocery store. Zigzagging up and down every aisle, he finally came to rest in the baking section, eye to eye with the “holy grail” of the nut family. Gently, he lifted a large bag of premium roasted, salted cashews. As he read the price tag, he raised his eyebrows and swallowed hard. The check-out seemed like it was a mile away, as he quickened his pace through the store to the 10 items or less lane. 

Two old ladies were ahead of him with their generic items and accompanying coupons. They zeroed in on the young priests purchase, bugged their eyes out and raised their eyebrows. One leaned into the other and, out of the side of her mouth said, “seems awfully young and suspicious to be making such a frivolous purchase…..I mean….REALLY! CASHEWS?….I thought they had to take a vow of poverty or something…..I wonder if the Monsignor knows how badly he’s wasting the parishioners money.” They set off in a huff. The college aged check-out clerk grabbed the bag from the young priest and flipped it over to find the bar code. “Whew! Father? Big day in the confessional? What’s the occasion?  It’s not every day we get to run a bag of these beauties through the register. Party on, Dude!”

By this time the young priest had red blotches of embarrassment allover the side of his neck and cheeks. He made his hands as large and flat as possible to cover the purchase as he picked up the premium bag of cashews and dove into a brown bag with his forearms protecting the view from any other suspicious on lookers. With the grace and speed of an Olympic steeple chaser, he ran for the van. “Father, forgive me”, he muttered as he slumped over the steering wheel, fumbling for the ignition with the keys. “When will this night mare end?”

The van pulled into the Rectory driveway just as the side door of the church opened. The old Monsignor ambled across in front of the van. “Busted!” he thought to himself, as the drivers side door opened, valet style, by the older priest who was now eyeing the grocery bag. “Well, what have you got there, Laddy?” The red blotches began to reappear on the young Associate, as the bag was swiftly snatched from his grasp and the nose of the Monsignor hovered over the bag opening. “Oh! Bless your heart, son. I’ve been eating all the cashews out of the “tin” all week and feeling guilty about it. Thank you for thinking of me. I would have never had the guts to be seen in public buying a bag of these. I’m so glad you did. Let’s go in and sample the loot.”

They made a dash for the kitchen door and laid the bag of premium roasted & salted whole cashews in the center of the simple table, an equal distance between themselves. “Well, go ahead and open them”, the fidgety old Monsignor ordered. He bit down on the end of the bag and tore off a corner, then gently dumped a small pile of cashews in the center of the table. The two stared the pile like pirates gazing at gold doubloons. Using their index fingers, they culled several cashews out of the heap and coddled them in their palms. With increased heart rates they both thrust one into their mouths. Their tongues pushed the morsel on to their first molar and, in one pop, they were gone. Smiling nervously and pretending to enjoy, they thought to themselves, “that was not all that special”. They repeated the procedure. “Pop, Pop” Adjusting their weight in their chairs over the second disappointment, thinking, there really isn’t much to these cashews. A little forced laughter and the rest of the palm contents went bottoms up.

The old Monsignor held up his index finger and said, “I’ve got an idea. Stay here, I’ll be right back.” He reappeared with the “tin” of mixed nuts and fished out a Brazil nut, a walnut, an almond, a little hazel nut and 4 Spanish peanuts and mixed in a new cashew. He closed his hand around them and gently shook them like casino dice and flung the whole works down the hatch. He crunched up the mouthful, jostling his head around and swallowed three times before it was all gone. Clasping his palms together, he announced, with a joyful sound, “It’s the mixture of all the different nuts together that makes it all taste so good!”

A Knights of Columbus Council can be a lot like a can of premium roasted & salted mixed nuts. We’re a blend of colorful personalities and backgrounds that enhance one another’s existence. Old mixed with young, professionals mixed with craftsmen, Priests mixed with lay, entrepreneurs mixed with laborers, all in our decorative “Catholic container”. Some members put in more time, volunteering for KC sponsored breakfasts and events than others do, while still others use their time and skill sets planning those events. Ultimately, it’s the members who don’t work the event, but bring their entire family to eat, that make the fund raiser a true success. While the “peanuts” buss the tables and sweep the floors and “cashews” present the big check at a ceremony, it’s the combination of the entire KC Council supporting the event that makes “it taste so good” to the Parish. Let’s take pride in how we’re all a little “nuts” over the KC’s.

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