I’m settling in at the Starbuck’s down the street from where I was scheduled to do a radio interview last night, when the phone rings. I answer it, and my mother says, “are you alright?” I say, “Yeah,” emphatically, wondering why she would think otherwise. It’s about 7:05, and the show I’m scheduled to be on at 8:20 has just started. They said something about a tornado, and “don’t worry, Father Mark is alright,” she tells me. Not only am I alright, but I’m clueless about the storm, possibly a tornado, that ripped through New York City last night. I’ve just walked across Manhattan, and it wasn’t even raining. My mother reassured, I settle in to my light sandwich and chai tea, as I listen to the show to try and calm my nerves a bit, and get a feel for what they are talking about tonight. It’s my first radio interview. Shortly, I’ll be in the studio, and I don’t know what to expect. I’m happy to discover that it’s “faith and culture” Thursday, where they discuss the intersections of popular culture and faith—right up my alley, and in many ways the theme of my book! I’m feeling a bit more comfortable, and glad I wasn’t able to do the show the night before during which they answer questions about the mass (not that I have anything against that, but it just wasn’t as good a fit!).
I head over there early, and I’m glad I did, because there’s a not-so-fast and a bit complicated security procedure to get in the building, and I’ve just entered behind a band that’s playing in one of the other studios. Off I go up to the 36th floor, where I arrive finally only about 5 minutes early. And wait. It’s an interesting place. The waiting area is kind of what you might expect, a spacious advertisement for Sirius XM, with ticker-type displays showing what’s playing on various channels at that moment. I’m ushered down past a row of studios, to the studio of the Busted Halo show. It’s a small rectangular box, not even as big as my room, with equipment and four people. Ruben Blades is in the next studio over. I say hello to Father Dave Dwyer, the host, and Robyn, the producer. She shows me the chair the microphone, and the headphones (which seems strange, because Fr. Dave is only a few feet away from me). I announce that this is the first time I’ve done this. Don’t be afraid to get too close to the microphone, I’m told, and just talk, the sound guy will take care of everything else. “Did you hear about the tornado?” Father Dave asks. And I tell them about the phone call I’d just received. Great way to break the ice. And we’re off!
Sure, I was nervous, but I was surprised at how comfortable I felt. I was a little self-conscious. I noticed that my arms were talking too, which seemed kind of silly. And, since there were three other people in the room to my left (Fr. Dave was to my right), I found myself instinctively looking in their direction from time to time. As I settled into the conversation it got easier, and it seemed like we were speaking for more than 20 minutes, in a good way.
It was fun. We got to talk about general ideas about encountering God in all things, especially in culture. We talked about the book. We spoke a little about my experience of my vocation. And it just seemed like a fun chat, though I felt a little under pressure to respond quickly, and avoid “ums.” It seemed to go OK, and it was a good way to cut my teeth for a couple other radio interviews I have coming up, where I won’t have the advantage of being in the studio.
It’s strange this new moment in my life where I find myself now speaking frequently about “my book.” I’m hoping it remains clear to people as I go about this that as much as the focus might be on me sometimes, as with this interview, the most important thing for me—and the reason I wrote the book—is in hopes that I can help people to better connect with God. I hope that I did so last night with my little foray into the radio world. Today, it’s back to ordinary life, where hopefully I can do the same, outside of my book. Thanks for reading/listening. And if anything I’ve said or written has helped you get better connected with God, please share that with others. You needn’t give me any credit because, really, all the credit goes to God! Happy Friday!