Being Watched

Being Watched

Did you ever have the experience that you were being watched?

I did recently at better than 10,000 feet, and, in that occurring, got some valuable consumer marketing information.

I was traveling from Cincinnati to Florida, and had as my reading on the plane a manuscript I had just acquired from noted Franciscan author, Father Murray Bodo, OFM. The two-hour trip home at the end of a busy week gave me the time, the space of mind and, what I thought was, the privacy to completely focus and delve into a work examining St. Francis and his relationship as the ultimate disciple of Jesus. 

This manuscript follows up on Father Murray’s 40th anniversary edition of Francis: The Journey and the Dream, available in hard cover and paperback and as an audio book.

I should note that I am not very chatty with other passengers when I travel on planes. I am usually very happy to have time to myself to read, to write and, maybe, catch up on projects that need attention. I try to be helpful to my fellow travelers if they need help with their bags or to answer a question, but I’m just not looking to relationship build and certainly not have an in-depth discussion outlining my life’s work and journey.

This day I was sitting next to someone who was eager to share that she sold horses and had a very successful day at a show in Louisville. She asked me what I did, and I told her that I work in product development for Franciscan Media. In an effort to send the message out that I had shared about as much as I wanted to share, I told her I had to get back to the manuscript I was reading in hopes of finishing as much as I could before the flight ended.

Back to my private world, I was rewarded by being taken on a fascinating journey by Father Murray of an intimate, inner Francis that I never knew existed. The texture of the words, the journey that the reader is swept up into and the connection I was able to make to St. Francis and his band of brothers, those first Franciscan friars, made this one of the most powerful reading experiences of my life.

Upon landing, I almost felt like I needed to awake from a trance, as I began to gather my possessions to disembark the plane.

At that moment, I felt a tap on the shoulder from the woman next to me, who immediately apologied for reading over my shoulder the unpublished manuscript. But then she asked, “Where can I get that book? When is it coming out? It’s wonderful!”

After feeling a bit violated and running through my mind the fact that someone was surreptitiously reading a manuscript put into my charge, I then thought to myself, Well, I just received a good bit of market research. Someone I didn’t know, didn’t know Franciscan Media, didn’t know Murray Bodo and was likely not Catholic was, like me, totally swept away by this depiction of St. Francis of Assisi.

Rather than react with a snide comment, I asked her if she had a business card (which she did) and I assured her that when the manuscript is published, I would send her a complementary copy.

The book from Father Murray Bodo on Francis and Jesus will be out in the spring. Look for it!

I’ll likely see copies of it on airplanes on which I’ll travel in 2013.

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Photo top: Image courtesy of


About the Author

Mark Lombard, director of the product development division, has worked throughout his career in Catholic publishing. He is married, a father of two and a grandfather of two. Mark is an avid jazz lover, traveling with his wife to catch jazz performances throughout the East Coast.
  • Missmariag

    A nice, discreet way to spread god’s word. Good job. 

  • Karen Heaphy

    It reminds me that we always have the opportunity to share the faith, and as St. Francis said “preach always, use words if you must” kind of takes a new meaning when someone is reading over your shoulder.

  • Karen Heaphy

    Your story reminds me that we are always able to share the faith in all of our activities.  And as St. Francis said ” Preach always, use words if you must”.  This takes on a new meaning when someone if reading about the faith filled life of St. Francis over your shoulder.

  • Carole

    Can’t wait to read it, Mark! Thank you for this story.