Sunday Morning (Wake-Up Call)

When the breakfast is finished, people gather in a large, loose circle around Charlie, wanting a moment of his attention before they go, wanting to make sure he knows they came. After all, he serves these people as well. He hugs them in the same way he hugged Ron and Sid, with gladness and acceptance. You are four days sober and I love you. You’re about to get in your BMW and I love you. You are not my problem to solve but my brother to love, all of you. We want to get close so we can convince ourselves that he is made of some rare and superior material that hasn’t been given to us, but it isn’t true. Calling him a saint is just a way of letting ourselves off the hook. After riding around with Charlie, I find it shocking to realize how simple it would be to see myself as a worthless servant, to find joy in the service of others, to open my heart and let it remain open to everyone, everyone, all the time. The trick is in the decision to wake up every morning and meet the world again with love.

Ann Patchett, from “My Year of No Shopping” in “These Precious Days: Essays” (Harper, November 23, 2021)


Photo: Ann Patchett, author of “These Precious Days,” with her dog Sparky, who’s one of the shop dogs at her bookstore, Parnassus. (Heidi Ross)

Yellow Paper (60 sec)


Dubbed “Yellow Paper,” the ad focuses on the homecoming of US military personnel for the holidays. It’s 60-seconds long, with the song “Welcome Home” by Joy Williams playing throughout. In it, a family drives to the airport in a snowstorm, hoping to get there on time. When they get to the airport, they pass out yellow paper and coordinate them into a ribbon shape.] The Yellow Ribbon program is part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It is the program that allows veterans to continue their education and enrich their lives by providing them tuition-free access to state universities. The yellow ribbon has come to symbolize US troops, Prisoners of War or Missing in Action persons, as well as the mental and physical health of our troops, among other things. The decision made by Toyota to use this symbol shows dedication to the people who protect and serve our country. (Source: Toyota Arlington)

For those with blocked youtube access, try this link.

to live as men for others

Many mentors have influenced me with their muscular Christianity, but Father Byrne’s method of shaping souls was different. He drew upon St. Francis of Assisi’s maxim: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” The diminutive priest was a giant in my life but made himself small so students like me would aspire, as he did, to live as men for others.

This is the phrase—men for others—that runs through my mind this Father’s Day. It’s how men like my dad and Father Byrne lived, and I’m convinced it’s critical to being a good father; indeed, a good person. Find something meaningful that is bigger than yourself and live for it, simple as that. For seeking the good of another is more than living, it is loving.

To my many fathers and to all like them, thank you and Happy Father’s Day

~ Mike Kerrigan, from To All the Fathers in My Life, Thank You (wsj.com, June 14, 2019)


Photo Credit

the only way to end this circuitous torture of self-obsession

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AC: The self, which we worship at the moment, is actually a terrible prison. It’s a cage. You are trapped…When you get trapped in your own short term desires, it’s a cage…Maybe it’s good to escape from that daily grind of having to listen to your consciousness constantly saying that “I want this. I want this. I want this.” Which we are encouraged to believe is liberation…Maybe it’s not.

RB: I think you are quite right. Even pop spiritual orators such as Eckhart Tolle will say to you this incessant inner narrative, the relentless thinking – there’s no freedom in that. And watch where those thoughts take you. If I’m walking my dog in the field…this material reality is…I am a man, in a field with a dog. In my head what’s happening: “Oh God. Why did I do that for? This will probably go wrong. What’s going to happen?” …There is a self-imposed tyranny to that…

AC: People live inside their heads very much. Because they are encouraged to, that is the end point. But actually what’s going on in those heads are things that people don’t want to tell. Fear. Loneliness. Doubt. Because actually if you are going to be the right kind of individual, you mustn’t have that. You see that on social media at the moment…

RB: …Self is the relentless driven inner narrative…I myself have had to battle…I believe the disease of addiction has at its core a kind of circuitous self-centeredness that can only be ended, well first by removal of the initial substance…once those things are gone you recognize those drives are still present. What is it?! You become obsessed with food. You become obsessed with sex. You become obsessed with work and other people’s opinion. In the end you begin to recognize that the only way to end this circuitous torture of self-obsession is with ideas that have always been present in religious and spiritual doctrine, service, connectionin whose service is perfect freedom. It is so beautiful. You give yourself up…it is an idiom that implies that there is an upward transcendent trajectory.

~ Russell BrandIs Civilization Crumbling? With Adam Curtis. (Under the Skin. With Russell Brand. Podcast #50, March 24, 2018)

A few moments of silence

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Standing out there in the downpour, beyond the green rows of a new garden. He was bent far over before the flat gray sky in what appeared to be an attitude of prayer or adoration, his arms at his sides. The rain had plastered his shirt to his back and his short black hair glistened. He did not move at all while I stood there, fifteen or twenty minutes. And in that time I saw what it was I had wanted to see all those years…The complete stillness, a silence such as I had never heard out of another living thing, an unbroken grace.

~ Barry Lopez, from “Field Notes: The Grace Note of the Canyon Wren


Notes:

  • Inspired by: 5:08 a.m. 55° F. Quiet. A cool breeze flows through the open window. The pitter patter of soft rain falls on the Earth on this Memorial Day, May 29, 2017
  • Photo: Ponychan
  • Thank you Christie for introducing me to Barry Lopez.

Remembering the lost platoon

Important to watch to the end…

Not everyone had Thanksgiving dinner at home with Family

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Photo: U.S. military personnel wait in line for Thanksgiving dinner at a coalition air base in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq. (Felipe Dana / AP / wsj.com)

35 Seconds of Silence

They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation

A pedestrian carrying an umbrella walks through a Memorial Day display of United States flags on the Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts. See other Memorial Day Photos here: These Emotional Photos Show The Real Reason for Memorial Day

Post Title: Quote by Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

 

feed him for three days before asking who he is

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The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.
I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.”

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Red Brocade” (1952)


Notes: Image Source: Rice Nice Recipes, Every Hour. Poem Source: “who are you really, wanderer?” (via Schonwieder)

 

Just, so much (too much) here…

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Photo: A U.S. service member salutes her fallen comrades during a memorial ceremony for six Airmen killed in a suicide attack, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. The deadliest attack in Afghanistan since 2013 killed six U.S. troops on Monday, including a family man from Long Island, New York; a South Texan; a New York City police detective; a Georgia high school and college athlete; an expectant father from Philadelphia; and a major from suburban Minneapolis with ties to the military’s LGBT community. They were killed when their patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle near Bagram Air Base, the Defense Department said. (wsj.com: Tech Sgt. Robert Cloys/U.S. Air Force / Associated Press)

 

What Motivates a Modern Nun?

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[…] Which provoked a question: What could lead a personable young woman from a happy family to give up everything — especially at a moment when women have never had as many opportunities before them?

It’s a reasonable question.

Yet amid the palpable jubilance of this jam-packed basilica, it is clear that this question is the wrong one. There are no sad sacks or martyrs on this altar today. These are happy, excited women. What is it they believe they have found?

Sister Bethany says it’s the “peace in your heart” that comes from knowing you are where you are meant to be. In this case it’s a place so countercultural, it’s almost un-American. For in a nation founded upon the God-given right to the pursuit of happiness, these sisters vow to put the happiness of others before their own. […]

~ William McGurn, What Motivates a Modern Nun?


Photo Source: Thank you Doug @ Eclecticitylight. Image from the 1947 film titled: “Black Narcissus

 

Ripples outward and yokes circles of people in bonds of affection

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[…] Most people feel grateful some of the time — after someone saves you from a mistake or brings you food during an illness. But some people seem grateful dispositionally. They seem thankful practically all of the time.  These people may have big ambitions, but they have preserved small anticipations. As most people get on in life and earn more status, they often get used to more respect and nicer treatment. But people with dispositional gratitude take nothing for granted. They take a beginner’s thrill at a word of praise, at another’s good performance or at each sunny day. These people are present-minded and hyper responsive. This kind of dispositional gratitude is worth dissecting because it induces a mentality that stands in counterbalance to the mainstream threads of our culture.[…]

Gratitude is also a form of social glue. In the capitalist economy, debt is to be repaid to the lender. But a debt of gratitude is repaid forward, to another person who also doesn’t deserve it. In this way each gift ripples outward and yokes circles of people in bonds of affection. It reminds us that a society isn’t just a contract based on mutual benefit, but an organic connection based on natural sympathy — connections that are nurtured not by self-interest but by loyalty and service.

We live in a capitalist meritocracy. This meritocracy encourages people to be self-sufficient — masters of their own fate. But people with dispositional gratitude are hyperaware of their continual dependence on others. They treasure the way they have been fashioned by parents, friends and ancestors who were in some ways their superiors. They’re glad the ideal of individual autonomy is an illusion because if they were relying on themselves they’d be much worse off. […]

If you think that human nature is good and powerful, then you go around frustrated because the perfect society has not yet been achieved. But if you go through life believing that our reason is not that great, our individual skills are not that impressive, and our goodness is severely mottled, then you’re sort of amazed life has managed to be as sweet as it is. […]

~ David Brooks, The Structure of Gratitude


Photo Source: mennyfox55

The Greatest Generation

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Start time was 4:00pm. We pulled into the parking lot at 3:40pm. We made it. But it wasn’t pretty. Torrential rain, back-ups on the NJ turnpike, standing water, all treacherous, extended our drive time by 90 minutes.  Being late for this event was not a memory I wanted to bank. We walked briskly for a mile to get to The Pavilion, the venue for Rachel’s college graduation ceremony.

Late = no seats. Responsible parents arrived 60-90 minutes early.  Susan (a member of the class of responsible parents) arrived earlier in the day, waited for us, and couldn’t hold our seats because we were late. I caught the scud with my chest.  This time, I had no counter. Cut it too fine.

Susan found a seat. I stood at the back. Bad Dads in the back.

He had to be in his 80’s.  He arrived on the arm of a Graduate, had to be his Grandson. A navy blue suit, oversized but neatly pressed. Black wing-tip shoes that had long since lost their gleam. A powder blue handkerchief peeked out of his suit jacket pocket. A taupe colored shirt with the tail hanging out. He dragged his right leg behind him, his Grandson offering ballast. (WW Veteran?)

He grabbed the chair in front of him and slumped down heavily. They were seated in my line of sight up 1 row.

The distinguished guests and the faculty processional was followed by a thank you to Parents, family members, and significant others. His Grandson softly nudges him.

[Read more…]

Weekend Roundup…(including The Denali Climb by 5 Wounded Warriors with 4 Good Legs Between Them…)

WEEKEND ROUNDUPHere’s some noteworthy leading, learning & living articles that I came across this week …

Forbes: Intelligence Is Overrated: What You Really Need To Succeed. “Albert Einstein’s was estimated at 160, Madonna’s is 140, and John F. Kennedy’s was only 119, but as it turns out, your IQ score pales in comparison with your EQ, MQ, and BQ scores when it comes to predicting your success and professional achievement.”

(((Note to Tom Hood: Thanks for sharing.  Thank goodness Intelligence research is moving in my direction. Smile )))


WSJ: Mom Was Right: Go Outside. “Children spend more than 4 hours a day with technology and there’s no longer time for nature…latest research – untamed landscapes have a restorative effect, calming our frazzled nerves…after a brief exposure to the outdoors, people are more creative, happier and better able to focus.” 

(((Note: And here I sit, inside, banging away on keyboard.  Hmmmmm.)))

[Read more…]

The Believer of Convenience.

Scene: Sunday, April 17, 2012.  Beautiful sunny day in Chestnut Hill, MA.  Home of Boston College. (BC Alums, did I get your colors, right?)

This was a Father and Son day trip where we were joined by 1000+ other incoming freshman and their expectant parents – some like Eric, who were trying to decide if BC was going to be their home for the next four years.

Father Jeremy Clark (b. Australia; Chinese History specialist; Rugby enthusiast) kicked off his remarks by sharing some background on the Jesuits and their foundation which I recap like this: Pursuit of education and knowledge.  Integration of education with Religion and one’s pursuit of their highest personal calling.  Embracing character, community and service.  And, AND, their belief that “God is in All Things.”  More on this later.

Roll past a 45-minute briefing session in Biology and another 45 minutes in Chemistry (and I’m ready for therapy – Can I be the most clueless parent in the room?  Why are most of the parents taking notes?  Should I be taking notes?  On What?  Maybe I’ll doodle.  Ahh, I forgot my pen.  And I have no paper.  Isn’t the time up yet?  Why can’t I get an iPhone signal in here to check my emails?  Isn’t it hot in here?  I glance over at Eric.  He’s intently focused on the Professor. At least someone has it together. Could he be adopted? Or Worse?).  We moved on to the last of the formal classroom sessions which was hosted by four BC seniors sharing their thoughts on the BC experience.  It was standing room only.  No air in this room.  Or, perhaps I’m still hyperventilating from the last Chem session.  (What is wrong with me?)  During the end of the Q&A, a parent asks how invasive the religious requirements are at Boston College.  You could only hear crickets.  The Believers, shifting (squirming) uncomfortably in their chairs.  Gritting their teeth I’m sure.  The non-Catholic/non-Jesuit/”Other” parents and students sitting up at attention waiting for the response.  And me, I’m standing up against the wall…behind my son who sitting in front of me…I plant my feet…lean up against the wall…I squeeze his shoulders…I feel woozy.  (Get a grip man!)

[Read more…]

Who will be crying at your funeral?

Forbes: Mike Myatt – Who Will Be Crying At Your Funeral?

“…I attended a memorial service last week for a 23-year-old man whose life ended far too soon – it was a much different scenario than the one depicted in the opening paragraph above. The service was a true celebration of a remarkable, albeit tragically short life. The deceased was a gifted and accomplished man who spent his short time on this planet investing in others, building into those who needed it the most, and serving those who others often ignored.

[Read more…]

Navy Seals: Bravery, Toughness & Sacrifice – – Beyond Most Mortals’ Comprehension

Setting aside your love or hate feelings for Karl Rove for a moment, his article in WSJ.com titled “Hunting With Seals” is something special.  He talked about a recent hunting trip with former Navy Seals – – men who he describes could be mistaken for anyone down the street.  I encourage you to read the entire article to capture the full essence of the story.  Here are some key excerpts:

“They are extraordinary. Among them, they had a Navy Cross, four Silver Stars, 26 Bronze Stars for valor and four Purple Hearts. These were Navy SEALs with a combined 150 years of service and more than 67 overseas deployments in the war against terror.”

“A SEAL no longer on active duty spoke to the group about his last mission, which took place in 2007. Seven days before his deployment in Iraq’s Anbar province was to end, his unit received intelligence about the presence of 16 to 20 al Qaeda combatants in a remote compound. In the dark of night, helicopters dropped his SEAL team and Iraqi scouts 3.5 kilometers from their target. After surrounding the building, they assaulted it by blowing the main door.”

[Read more…]

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