Some priests were going over their plans for the new year when one of them said he hoped to meet in the new year someone who will 'scratch the gourd', a Korean expression meaning to nag.
The columnist writing on spirituality for the Catholic Times said that the unexpected words were met with laughter and incomprehension. "Haven't you heard," one of them replied, "the complaints of husbands at the nagging of their wives? At those times, we rejoice in our celibacy, but you have never been nagged and don't know the harm it can do, otherwise you would not be saying that."
Hearing these words the priest shook his head in disagreement, "You do not know how spiritually motivated those nagging words really are. When we go behind those nagging words, we see they are often meant to stop the husband's bluster and self-importance, forcing him to face reality.
The wife is concerned, he continued, about managing the household. educating the children, putting aside money for retirement; she is concerned for the total welfare of the family. On the other hand, the husband wants to be seen as more than the family breadwinner and appreciated as a worthwhile person apart from his role in the family.
It isn't that the wife doesn't know this, the priest said. She is not talking this way to destroy the husband's sense of self. No wife would be doing that, It is an attempt to make him a better husband and father.
"Look at ourselves," he explained. "As priests we appear to our parishioners as able to know and do everything, which often causes us to bluster and act big. It is because we have not been faced with the 'scratching of the gourd'. We all want to do certain things, to display ourselves, make ourselves known. Don't we need someone to tell us what should and should not be done? Someone to 'scratch the gourd'?. To have persons helping us face reality and to see ourselves more objectively is a great blessing. It may be uncomfortable, hurt, but it's good for us."
The 'scratching of the gourd' is not an attempt to inflict pain, but the scratching, if done out of love, will help us grow and keep us from being carried away by our feelings. It will help us find a middle ground where we can confidently stand, seeing ourselves as others see us.