Going deeper into a simple question

By Ryan LeBlanc, Teacher Chaplain, E.D. Feehan Catholic High School

How are you today?

You could be all sorts of things.

Some of us today are feeling, and thinking, and living positively – we are calm, groovy, excited, passionate, happy, joyful.

Some of us today are feeling, and thinking, and living less positively – we are tired, overwhelmed, anxious, sad, frustrated, angry.

Whatever you are today, Jesus says it’s okay. It’s good for you to be here, however you are. And even if you think it’s too much, it’s not too much for Jesus.

I ask the people around me, and I answer them – How are you?

There’s always at least three levels of answer to the question.

The first is the quick answer, the reflex response: “I’m fine.” or “I’m terrible.” or “Living the dream.”

This is a real and true answer, but it never conveys the whole picture. It can’t.

If I wait for a few minutes with a person, one of us might get to the second level of answer – a little bit of the “what.”

What’s awesome? Temperatures above freezing. What’s terrible? I have all this work to do. What’s the dream? It’s been a year and I still have moments when I can’t believe the pandemic is happening.

This level has more truth. It has specifics. It’s honest. But it, too, is not a complete answer to the question How are you?

It’s really important, and really helpful, to get to the next level of answer, but it takes a lot of energy, and it takes a lot of trust. I’m grateful to live among family and friends and colleagues and students who sometimes allow themselves to get to this level with me. I think we all need someone to help us with it.

If there’s trust, and time, and energy (even a little), one of us in conversation will get to the third level of answer. Even if it’s not complete, it can become a “whole” answer.

How am I? I’m deeply hurt that I cannot be together with my loved ones. I’m deeply grateful for protection from COVID, so far. I’m deeply tired of being worried and on high alert. Because of this person, or that experience, or my own tendencies.

This is the whole answer. This is How we are today.

Jesus says your whole answer is more than okay, it’s good. It is a blessing, and it is an invitation to ask for more blessing and more strength. Jesus made you for this day, and made himself available to be a part of it, to be with you, however you are.

Let us pray. 

Lord Jesus, Son of Creator, You look upon us with love and compassion. Receive our thanks for every blessing You give, and when we don’t even know the whole answer, we open ourselves to Your presence, to comfort and strengthen us in what we need, and how we are. We pray in Your Spirit, Amen.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.


Ryan LeBlanc is the Teacher Chaplain and Catholic Studies Department Head at E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon, and he blogs and offers online courses at ThinkCatholic.ca