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Eating a Sacred Cow and The Super Bowl Shuffle

June 22, 2014 at 11:27 am

One of our neighbors is a Chinese Canadian who is married to an Australian woman, Josie,  who enjoys wearing extremely revealing outfits.  She would stop the traffic in Hyderabad if it was not already moving at a crawl.  Kathleen spent yesterday with her shopping and said that women and men were staring at her.  Even guys driving in cars were staring into Josie’s CRV.   I asked  Kathleen if guys were walking into light poles or if the cars were running off the roads.    You have to understand that women are covered up here.  Bare arms are common, but generally the Hindu women wear floor length sari’s or some form of leggings.

Josie recommended a steak place to us that we decided to try.  It is a classic hole in the wall.  There might have been 6 tables in the place in addition to 2  dining room size tables that lay flat on the floor.  Folks sat on pillows and ate  Indian style.    As I went to take my chair at a table, I was surprised to see a picture of Refrigerator Perry.  I said to Kathleen, “There’s my man.  The Fridge!”  It was a picture of him from the back.  He was standing on the sideline looking out over the playing surface of Lambeau field.   I then noticed that the walls were covered with 3 rows of photographs.   Directly above Kathleen’s head was a picture of   “Sweetness”  Walter Payton.  His helmet was off and he had a big smile.  To her left was a picture of the Sears Tower with lighting flashing across the sky.  To her right was the John Hancock Building.   I then had to get up and look at all the pictures.  All the pictures were of the USA.  The Chrysler Building, Kansas City, Boston, cowboys of the Wild West, the 1906 World Champion Cubs and on and on.  I could not believe it.

The waiter then came up to see what we might want to eat.  I asked him what was up with all the Chicago pictures.  He said Chicago spice?  And nodded his head yes.  I tried a couple of more times to see if we could get on the same page, but it was clear that he was going to prepare my steak with some kind of a Chicago preparation…who knows what.  I gave up and Kathleen and I decided to take a few minutes to order some food.  We were a little nervous.    When the waiter offered water and I asked if it was bottled, he said it was not.  Bottled water is always available for foreigners with sensitive stomachs.    Kathleen suggested that we should consider leaving since it was such a dive.

Also, bear in mind, we are living in Hindustan.  The Hindus do not eat beef.  I am not sure that they literally worship cows although they are certainly polytheistic.  They  reverence the cow  because it  gives of itself.  Cows provide milk, labor in the fields,  and their  dung is used both as fertilizer and as fuel.  They almost speak in hushed tones about the animal.  The Hindus that work as tanners with the cowhide are not respected.   I wonder with the growth of the hospitality industry if there are Hindus in the kitchen cooking the beef.    A couple of months ago, I decided to stop eating meat since whoever is cooking it rarely prepares it according to the requested temperature.  Medium well shows up rare.  Even so,  energized by a  picture of the Bears doing the Super Bowl Shuffle,   we worked up our courage and took the plunge.  We ordered the least spicy preparation of steak soaked in a balsamic vinaigrette and honey marinade.

In India, you do live with lowered expectations.  We were not expecting our steaks to compete with Gibson’s or Hyde Park and they did not. However, I have to say they were delicious.  Tender. Flavorful.  Perfectly prepared. We devoured them.   I also appreciated the waiter providing us with bottled water.  I am sure it was not a result of a request that he could not understand.

The check is never brought to the table here.  They want you to stick around and relax.  As we were looking around for someone from whom we could request a check,  a swarthy body builder who was in some of the pictures came up to see if he could help.  After saying we were ready for the check, I asked him if he was the chef.  It was Chef  Inan Khan himself.    When asked, he shared that he had lived in Chicago for 3 years before moving to the Boston area for 8.  When he learned we were from Columbus, he was excited to share that he had owned a restaurant in Dayton Ohio for a while.  He came home to India since his father’s health is failing.   As we said good night, we told him that the food was excellent and that we would be back.  What an unexpected surprise.  Thanks Josie!

Happy 100th Birthday Mom

June 22, 2014 at 11:21 am

My mom recently celebrated her 100th Birthday.  We had a great family gathering.  Over 100 family members, descendants of her brother and sister and my dad’s siblings’ kids came together for a family reunion. It was a wonderful day of Irish music, looking at photographs of my immigrant grandparents, their cousins, my  aunts and uncles, and sharing of our memories.  My mom shared that her secret to her long life was all about living for her kids and the extended family.  She also asked that I share a note that  I had written for her on Mother’s Day with the extended family. I shared the following:

 

Today we celebrate the life of my mom.

As Catholic contemplatives, we know, see and embrace God through one another, the beauty of creation and the events of our lives.

I would like to make explicit how my mother serves as an example of God’s presence to us through one another and thank the Lord for how we are blessed by God’s presence in my mother in so many ways.  My mom reveals God’s nurturing, loving, generous presence and nature.  This little acknowledgement is based on a note I wrote to mom on Mother’s day which fell on Good Shepherd Sunday.  So my note is based on Psalm 23 and is addressed to my mom.  It follows:

Surely Goodness and Kindness have followed me all the days of my life.

God comes to me through you.

Like a Good Shepherd, you watch over me.

Guard me.

Encourage me to go on right paths.

You nourish me and lead me to green pastures where I experience the abundance of life.

These green pastures include an incredibly happy childhood and many family parties that you, Jo, Marge, Loretta, and Bea  hosted.

Together you created warm environments to celebrate a variety of occasions.

 

Through you I experience love with no conditions.

You always provide insight into my areas of strengths and gifts and encourage them.

You never allow me to sell myself short.

 

Through you I see and experience God’s generosity.

You do not cling to money but use it to support us in every way.

You are generous with your life as you have lovingly devoted it to your family by creating a true home that is a sanctuary from the turbulence of life.

A safe harbor.

 

Surely, Goodness and Kindness have followed me all the days of my life.

 

Politics in India: Awash with Cash and Liquor!

May 18, 2014 at 11:33 am

So read one of the headlines in the Times of India.  It’s election time in the world’s largest democracy. It was not an isolated headline. Others read :

Parties Use Self- help Groups to Dispense Bribes

It’s raining cash this poll season

In fact, while running errands in our car, Kathleen was pulled over by the police and our car was searched for cash.   Apparently millions of dollars of money to buy votes was spent in our area. Alcohol was also provided liberally. The self-help groups were started by NGOs to help rural women. They have become quite prevalent as a way to help address an oppressive culture. However, the parties found that they were a convenient channel for bribes that would not be easily detected.   This brand of politics is even more brazen than Chicago’s.

The election is over now. There is great optimism among the aspirational and rising middle class about the change that has occurred. The Congress party has been swept out of office by the BJP.   In fact, the BJP party has gained a controlling majority in the Parliament. It is the first time since 1984 that there is a single party majority and no need for a coalition government.

The Congress party was formed in the late 19th century and was led by the Great One, Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s and forward. They led the movement for Independence and have largely controlled the government since Independence. The Congress party has had dynastic leadership. Nehru’s daughter Indira married a Gandhi unrelated to Mahatma. After her assassination, her son, Rajhiv took over. When he was assassinated, his Italian wife, Sonja, became the president. It was her son, Rahul who just got his butt kicked by Narendra Modi and the BJP.   Congress is the “secular” party. In other words, from the days of Nehru and Mahatma, it has stood for breaking down the caste system, pluralism, acceptance of religious diversity, and redistribution policies or “sops” to help the poor. With Congress in power, India has experienced vigorous growth and modernization.

As I stood on the golf course, yesterday I could see cranes every direction that I turned. In our neighborhood, every vacant parcel has a new residential often multi-family complex being built. However, various factors counterbalanced that growth in recent years. Inflation of 10 percent has impacted the cost of food; growth of five percent feels like a slowdown after being in double digits; the equivalent of the Federal Reserve is presided over by a graduate of the Chicago school of economics ( Milton Friedman, Gary Becker among others)  who has kept interest rates high to manage down inflation; even if working, the 99 percent do not feel like a rising tide is lifting their boats as they are still living in squalor defined by shanty towns, tents, and lack of sewage; if you have electricity, power outages happen frequently; roads are a mess; and let’s not forget corruption. It is rife here. It cannot be avoided.  Both Congress and BJP are full of it.

Modi represents change. He is a strong, decisive figure who brooks no nonsense or opposition even within his party. He basically executed a coup d’etat of the BJP leadership last fall that will lead to the BJP naming him the prime minister. In his campaign, he would contemptuously deride Rahul Gandhi and the leadership of Congress. Historically, the Congress party always controlled the lower castes which are called the “Backward Castes.” The lower castes of the rural areas and the Muslim population making up 15 percent of the Indian population have traditionally been the base of the Congress party. Modi campaigned as a member of the backward castes given his background as a teawallah serving tea in a shop. Meanwhile Rahul Gandhi came across as a princeling, a reluctant politician fearful of meeting the same fate as his grandmother and father.  He was an extremely poor campaigner.  Modi was also the chief minister or governor of the state that contains Mumbai. He made a name for himself by putting in place road and electrical infrastructure that is the envy of India. He is conservative and pro-business. The rising and aspirational middle class born after the independence of India along with the Hindu backward castes delivered a mandate.  I cannot tell you how many middle aged Hindus I know who enthusiastically voted for the first time and for Modi. They are very excited about what he means for India.

Unfortunately, many others are concerned. Especially the Muslims. The development of the Modi’s home state did not include the Muslim sectors.   During his time as governor, there was a terrible riot among Hindus and Muslims that caused the death of over 1000 Muslims. Many did not think that he was proactive about stopping it.   (His Hindu followers who I would have to say are living in darkness in this respect  say “There are riots all the time in India,” as if that is acceptable.  We are all brothers and sisters of the One God.)  Modi is also under the influence of a Hindu “social and cultural” group called RSS that smells fascist. Their leadership make outrageous comments that are not disavowed.    Modi himself called Muslim refugees fleeing from Buddhist persecutions in Myanmar  “illegal” immigrants who he says will have to leave. Assam, the Arizona of India that borders Myanmar, cheered him. His campaign owes much success to its strategy of polarization. The color of Hinduism, orange, was ubiquitous as his political backdrop as was the Hindu lotus flower on his lapel. He did not have to say anything although his lieutenants often did. The message was clear.  Of the 282 BJP members elected to parliament, there are no Muslims or Christians.  There is one Sikh and one other member from a minority community.

The newspapers here are not very good. In some states, the ruling dynastic parties control the press. The best sources of analysis are found in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Some US experts quoted in these papers predict that he will move to the center and seek to govern all of India. One can only hope it is so.  I would be surprised if many if any of the Catholics with whom I worshipped this morning voted for Modi; yet my favorite Jesuit led a prayer for the new government from the altar.

It is a good reminder for us to pray daily for all of our government leaders that they may be used by God for the good of all humankind whether they know it or not.

The Rock says “Slow Down. You’re Moving Too Fast”

May 11, 2014 at 8:25 am

I have lived the past 25 or 30 years at warp speed.  My schedule resembled trying to put 10 pounds of sugar in a five pound bag.  It was not unusual for me to get double or triple booked and then have to make a choice.  If someone, needed a minute, I likely did not have it and would ask them to walk to the elevator with me or I would call them on my cell as I would drive to an appointment.  I was all business all the time.  I was usually wearing 3 different hats within the workplace such as serving clients, managing people, leading an industry group and chairing a board.

Unless it was a scheduled meeting,  it would be challenging to live in the moment and savor a person’s presence and perspective.    I was too busy  justifying myself as a critical cog in high performance environment as I sought  to please those for whom I work.   Without question,  business meant busyness and I found my self-worth and a sense of importance in it.  This kind of running hard did not allow me to build deeper relationships with clients, colleagues, family and friends.  At bottom, I believe that I was driven by fear.  Fear is my dominant emotion.  I was afraid to fail again and experience the stress of economic insecurity.  Such fear can restrain me from being willing to trust God because I will do what I need to do to assure a comfortable living for my family and retirement.  I act as if it depends on me rather than God.  As if I am the source of security  rather than understanding in my heart of hearts, it is all from God.    I relate to God on my terms. I can’t hear, see or experience God because I am running too hard and closed off even if I do not want to be or do not think that I am.

I struggle to see the Truth.   Evil may be disguised as a lesser  good that I perceive as necessary and helpful.  Thomas Aquinas says that we always pursue or choose a good.  It appears to be good, but in fact could be harmful for us.  We need to choose the higher Good.  We need to see as God sees.  Love as God loves.

In today’s readings for the 4th Sunday of Easter,  Peter is prominently featured.    He is an icon of the Church.  We honor him for his confession of faith of who Jesus is.  Jesus called him a Rock or the foundation upon which the Church would be established.   But he was a  humble fisherman.  A simple working man who would drop his nets in the Sea of Galilee and hope for the best.  He was also afraid.  Afraid to confess that he knew Jesus during the trial of Jesus.  He denied Jesus 2 or 3 times and then fled and wept bitterly.

However, it was Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost who preached to the same people that terrified him previously.  He continued to preach in the face of persecution.    He had experienced God’s loving forgiveness and  loving embrace of his shortcomings.  He preached that we too should say that we are sorry and seek to choose another mindset.  Repent!

As I look into the future,  I need to change the mindset that has me trying to do too much and not putting as much love and presence into each moment.  I risk doing the same in my life after Deloitte and missing out on what God offers and wants us to experience.

Lord, as you helped Peter overcome his fear, help us overcome our fears that prevent us from becoming the people that you are calling us to be.  Help us choose a path that allows us to maximize our gifts as we live our daily lives.   May we come to embrace the abundant life that you are anxious for us to experience.  Help us to slow down and not move too fast.  May we walk in You and through You to  still waters.  May we lie down in the green pastures that you promise us.  Let us recognize how goodness and kindness follow us all the days of our lives.  May we smile with gratitude as our cup overflows!

 

From: TodaysGift@Hazelden.info [mailto:TodaysGift@Hazelden.info] Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2014 11:41 AM To: Gorman, Robert (US – Wilton) Subject: Today’s Gift – 5/11/2014

 

Today’s thought from Hazelden is:

Presence“C’mon. Hurry. Let’s go,” my friend said, shifting nervously from one foot to the other. I looked around. Another friend, Michael, had just walked into the room. I hadn’t seen him for a while. I felt compelled to go over and talk to him, even though I didn’t have anything important to say. “Please, let’s go,” my friend said again. I started to leave with him, then changed my mind. “Give me just a few minutes,” I said, walking away from my friend and moving toward Michael. We didn’t talk about much, Michael and I. But I’ll never forget that conversation. He was killed in an accident two weeks later. Some people suggest that our biggest regret when we die will be that we didn’t work less and spend more time with the people we love. That may be true, but for me, I think it will be that I wasn’t more completely present for each person, task, and moment in my life.

Action: Do you remember the “stop, look, and, listen” slogan from when you were a child? Every so often, even for a few minutes each day, try to remember to practice it.

Slow down or stop – depending on how fast you’re going.

Look – see where you are, whom you’re with, what you’re doing. Give whatever you’re doing your attention.

Listen – as much as possible, quell your anxiety, cease your mental chatter, and just listen to nature, to other people, to God, and to yourself.

You are reading from the book:

52 Weeks of Conscious Contact by Melody Beattie

52 Weeks of Conscious Contact © 2003 by Melody Beattie. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the permission of Hazelden.

 

Humanity Rocks

May 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

I have noted how my quasi-parish at Loyola Academy  addresses doctrinal concerns that are specific to the Asian culture.  At first, I did not recognize the reason for the teachings  since I did not yet understand the milieu here.  Here are a few examples from the Easter Sunday bulletin.

There was a column differentiating Resurrection from Resuscitation, Reanimation and Reincarnation.    There are  Hindu holy men here who claim to have been resurrected.  Shridi Sai Baba and another individual named Sai Baba.    I really do not know much about these guys.  (So there is great risk of misrepresentation on my part, but I do not think it is particularly worth the investment time to research. Here is what I know based on hearsay and some reading.)   The former died in the early 20th Century.  I think some say he has been reincarnated and lives in South India (Tamil Nadu).  He is very popular and has quite a following.   I see his picture on many desks at work.   The other Sai Baba claimed to be an avatar or an incarnation of God and had a huge following in the 70’s and 80’s. He claimed to have been Jesus previously;    argued that  the sayings of Jesus were distorted and he knew what Jesus really said.  For example, he stated that Jesus prophesied his coming by pointing at some sheep and saying   “BAAA- BAAA.”  (Seriously?  Mr. Grannan:  I am not making this up.   I read some of his writings that I found in Patrick’s library.)    Poor Baaa-baaa has been shown to be a magician and a pedophile.  ( See BBC you-tube videos on Sai Baba).

It is likely because of such claimsofresurrection or dying and coming back to life like these claims that there is need for this catechesis and why one of the Jesuits talked about resuscitation as a revival of a person from apparent death back to the same earthly life from the pulpit.   Many Eastern forms of spirituality seek to adopt or adapt Jesus in order to draw more followers.  The hidden life of Jesus of provides fertile ground for all kinds of elaborate fiction not unlike Dan Brown’s.  The need for apologetics and catechesis around these definitions must be constant.

In any event, resuscitation is contrasted with the Resurrection of the body by the bulletin which states that “what this new resurrected and immortal body will be is unknown.  It will be radically different from our present physical and mortal bodies.  St Paul compares the continuity but difference by analogizing to seeds and grown plants in his first letter to the Corinthians.”   We confess this belief as part of the Nicene Creed at Sunday Eucharist.   We believe in the Resurrection of the Body as opposed to a subsuming of ourselves into God.

I have to say that my understanding has been sharpened by the contrast to Eastern thought.   At the risk of oversimplifying,  the Hindus are looking for a liberation whereby  the God within us merges with the Atman or Godhead.  Our ego would disappear into God much like a wave on the ocean disappears into the ocean.    As long as we have desire, we are reincarnated.  If ever freed from desire at death, we can escape this world of illusion as our egos disappear.  We are liberated as our ego and identity disappears.  From what I can tell the Buddhists are atheists.  Dalai Lama disputes the notion of a Thomistic first mover.  He asserts that the universe is eternal.    ( We should introduce the Dalai to St Anselm who said that God is that than which nothing greater may be conceived.)

In this context, the revelation and teaching of Jesus takes on new life.  Jesus is the Revealer.  His sayings, parables, prayers reveal a transcendent God who desires intimacy and longs for a relationship with us.  Our existence is grounded in love.  We pray to “Our Father. “   Note also some of the recent readings of this Easter season.  For example, in John 20:  11-18,   after  His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to women firstand affirmed his earthly message that God is his Father and our Fatheras He told the women:

“I am going to my Father and your Father.  My God and Your God.”

In Christ, we stand before the Father as sons and daughters.  Through the Holy Spirit, we experience God’s love.  We are immersed in an experience of love and return love as God’s children. When we act out of who we are called to be and know who we are,  we can be in relationship to one another as brothers and sisters sharing God’s love one with another.  In fact, we are all His children no matter what our creed or if we have no creed.  Stand back and watch God’s love for us expressed through the smiles and laughter people share.  The fun that they have at play.  As John Merrill says   “Humanity Rocks” in God’s love.  We live and move and have our BE-ing in God.

Isn’t this understanding of God at the heart of Judeo-Christian religion?  There is Life after Life. God may be way over our head to grasp, but there is an undeniable intimacy with the Almighty. God cares for us as we care for our children.     Hence, the bulletin highlights that  “Christians believe in the “Resurrection of the Body,” not merely the “Immortality of a (disembodied) Soul! “   There is a reunification of the spirit or soul with a new and immortal resurrected body.   “The main point” the bulletin goes on to say “ is that we will still be ‘some-body’ able to interact in personal relationship with God and with ‘every-body’ else”  after life on this mortal coil.

Each of us was called into being by God.  By becoming who God intends us to be, we reflect a unique aspect of God to one another.  As we recognize God in each other’s goodness, we love each other more and more deeply.  What an eternity we have to enjoy with one another and God.  Gregory of Nyssa would say that we will continue to grow in a perfection of love that has no end, no boundary, but is infinite and eternal.

The Gift of Easter Hope

April 20, 2014 at 6:13 am

As part of Fr. Raj’s announcements from the altar this morning, he encouraged us to take home his pastoral bulletin which contains quotes from  Saints, Fathers of the Church, etc.    As he looked over toward Kathleen and I, he highlighted with a smile that there was even a quote from an Irish Jesuit.    The following is from Brian Grogan, SJ:

You have risen!

You have removed the stone

That blocks the springs of life and hope.

With your loving hands

You have embraced us and our fragile world.

You walk with us on every road we travel,

You sit at every table where we gather.

You have risen!

Stay with us too,

As you did with the Emmaus disciples.

In times of darkness and chaos

May we say

You have risen!

And then in joy and trust

May we smile an Easter smile.

We make our prayer  in confidence. Amen.

 

Teresa of Avila( 1515-1582) wrote

 

Christ has no body, but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes

With which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he

Walks to do good,

Yours are the hands,

With which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands,

Yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes

With which he looks

Compassion on this world.

Christ has no body

Now on earth but yours.

 

 

In closing, I wish you Easter blessings with this Resurrection prayer  from the bulletin:

 

Awakened Lord,

Lord of the empty tomb—awaken us!

Awaken us from black night to fresh dawn.

Awaken us from brutish sleep to vibrant life.

Awaken us from blindness to vision.

Lord of the resurrection banner—lead us!

Lead us from winter to spring.

Lead us from barren lands to green fields.

Lead us from war to peace.

Renaissance Lord—stay with us!

Stay in our hearts.

Stay in our minds.

Stay in our deeds, our words, our dreams

Lord of the empty tomb—awaken us!

Offering It Up…. A Lenten Meditation from Teresa

April 10, 2014 at 7:33 am

As I read from Mother Teresa  Come Be My Light today,  I understood clearly the Catholic slogan  “Offer It Up.” This phrase was commonplace as I grew up.  I also recall my dad stating that we could “offer it up”  late in his life.   I could not really connect with the sentiment.  In fact, it seemed that old school Catholicism had a bit of an overemphasis on suffering in general.  One would hear about various pious practices.  For example, in the Journal of a Soul by the Good Pope John XXIII, I recall he was sitting in an uncomfortable chair.  Rather than finding a more comfortable one, he offered up his discomfort.  Or I think it was the Little Flower St Therese of Lisieux who wanted to eat an apple, but left it untouched offering up her desire for it.  I could not relate.

I will concede that there is admirable ascetic discipline embody by Good Pope John and the Little Flower  as their  intellects discipline and control what can be at times our unruly desires and emotions.  In general, though, I thought that there was too much focus on suffering in the pastoral devotion of the Church.  Where is the promise of joy and fulfillment?  Additionally, I was not sure for what purpose we were “offering it up”.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata experienced a dark night of the soul for years.  During this dark night, she came to understand that she shared in the redemptive mission of Jesus.  Jesus hung on the Cross feeling abandoned by the Father in the face of death reflecting, sharing, and capturing how we as humans so often feel.  “My God, My God,  Why have you abandoned me?”  As disciples of Jesus, we are called to follow Jesus as he carries the cross and will find at times that we too have been nailed to it.  Why?   There are many meaningful answers to this question.  One is offered by Paul :  “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church”.  After 11 years in the Night, this  identity with Jesus redemptive act on the Cross comforted Mother Teresa.

As she told her sisters:   “ My dear children—without our suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption.—Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death.  All that He has taken upon Himself, and has carried it in the darkest night.  Only by being one with us He has redeemed us.  We are allowed to do the same:  all the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution must be redeemed, and we must have our share in it.—Pray thus when you find it hard—‘ I wish to live in this world which is so far from God, which has turned so much from the light of Jesus, to help them—to take upon me something of their suffering.’  Yes, my dear children—let us share the sufferings  –of our poor—for only by being one with them—we can redeem them, that is, bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God.”

I am sure that I have read or heard Paul’s passage many times, but Teresa has illuminated it in a fresh way.  I have generally identified with Jesus’ Paschal Mystery as capturing the nature of our existence and man’s inhumanity to man.  Similarly, Jesus embodies the philosophy of nonviolence as he follows the Father’s will in his life.  He not only turns the other cheek, but forgives those who kill him.  He dies, but it is not the end as he enters life after life and returns to tell us “Be Not Afraid.”  The Paschal Mystery of death and resurrection applies to the events of our lives.  I was fired as teacher.  A painful experience, but that dislocation allowed a new direction to emerge.

Teresa and Paul throw wholly different light on the darkness that may or does envelope our lives.  It is God’s purification of the soul.  Bringing us to new depths of faith. It is a sharing in Jesus’ pain and redemptive mission on the cross that requires an act of faith on our part in the darkness of the moment.    We can “offer it up” for the redemption of those we love.  Later in the book titled:  Mother Teresa Come Be My Light by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, Teresa writes her spiritual director,  “St Paul has given me the answer…–so I am happy to suffer it still more and also with a big smile.—If I ever become a saint—I will surely be one of ‘darkness’  I will continually be absent from heaven—to light the light of those in darkness on earth.”  The author comments: “Strengthened in the furnace of suffering, she was ready to continue her mission until the end of time.”

Blessed Teresa intercede on our behalf.  We may not even know that we are in the darkness.  We think that we have all the answers.  We think that we have the Truth.  Pray that  the Lord’s light will be brought to our shadowy understanding and existence.  May it light up my life and the lives of my loved ones that we may worship in spirit and Truth and may even this day, bring the light and love of God into our  world of shadows and darkness. Lord, may we recognize and embrace the Paschal Mystery in our lives this Lent.  Help us be quick to embrace Your Cross and to offer up our sufferings for the sake of others and be made ready for the new life of Your Resurrection.   Fill us with hope.

Laugh, Love, Live

April 4, 2014 at 5:32 am

Courage to Change  April 4:

“I heard someone…say that when they open their eyes in the morning, they also open their ears.  Now as I awaken, I listen for the birds.  I choose not to review my plans for the day until I’ve had my breakfast.  I prefer to take time to appreciate my favorite part of the day….Help(s) me to clear my mind of my burdens so that I am able to enjoy the wonder of the moment.  I am beginning to enjoy a childlike awe about the splendor of nature, to see the beauty all around me, to let my face break into a smile spontaneously, to laugh, to love, to live again.  Today I can say ‘ Good morning God,’  instead of ‘Good God, it’s morning.’   Today I’ll be keenly aware of my senses,  I will think about what I am experiencing at this moment.  I won’t let the beauty of this day slip by unnoticed.”

Lovely sentiment.  As I read the page for April 4, I was touched how this humble group of people whose reflections compose this book  recognize our poverty before God and have such clear insight.  The suffering and drama of their experience has purified them and made them ready to acknowledge, trust and hope in  a Higher Power who brings them to still waters and green pastures. As the Psalmist sings “ Goodness and kindness will follow them all the days of their lives.  They shall not want.”

Neither do they tell others what they must believe.  Instead they invite them into their meetings and let them come to believe in a Power greater than ourselves while encouraging them “through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Such a contrast to so many righteous spiritual people who, too sure of themselves, wield the truth ( note small t) like a sword.    They have the truth, but nobody else does unless they belong to their little group.   They enjoy trying to puncture or undermine other people’s understanding of God.  Doesn’t that in and of itself reflect a constricted understanding of Truth, Beauty, Love, Faith?

As I read this passage this morning, Kathleen  was jumping on a small trampoline on our balcony in the sunshine with a boom box blasting an upbeat energetic song.  She was dancing to the music as she was jumping.  I could only grin.

Lord, may we laugh, love and live the moments of today to the fullest and in so doing may we may be your instruments of Light, Peace, Hope, and Love.    Thy Will Be Done.

Murphy’s Law

March 29, 2014 at 10:20 am

There is a saying that I heard upon arriving in India:   “ If you do not have patience before coming to India, you will learn it.  If you have patience, you will lose it!”  When you go to the airport in India, you have to leave plenty of time.  The following is a typical experience.    I had arranged for a driver to pick me up at 630 am to run me out to the airport for an 830 flight.   He had been picking me up at 11 all week to take me to the office in Delhi and had been reliable.  Apparently he overslept.  His phone was turned off when I tried to reach him.  Finally at 6:40, I decided to overpay for a hotel car so that I would not miss my plane.    Before you enter an airport in India, you always have to show your itinerary  and passport to a soldier.  It is generally a formality.  I have always had an itinerary, but this morning as I drove out to the airport, I could not locate mine.   I was wondering if I would miss my plane or if they would somehow accommodate me and let me enter the airport without the paperwork when I finally located it after tearing apart my backpack for the third time.  After I handed my newfound itinerary to the soldier, he looked at it and yelled to another soldier,  “Spice Jet! Dehradun!”  twice.  Then he directed me to go talk to the other soldier who informed me that I had to go to Terminal 1.  Now normally that would not be a big deal in the US.  However in Delhi, there are 3 terminals and they are all 15-20 minutes apart from each other.  So I hailed a cab and asked to go to Terminal 1.  As we drove to Terminal 1, I was wondering why I was so trusting that soldiers would know what flights leave from which terminal.  That made me a little concerned.   I thought that I needed to do a better job of finding out from which terminal my flights depart in the future.  Still,  I did not bother checking my I-phone for the time.  At this point, I figured that if I missed the plane, so what.   As St Paul says,  “All things work together for good….”

As I was collecting my things from security, my cell starting ringing in my backpack. It was my driver asking if I still needed a ride to the airport.  I explained that I was at the airport. I then checked the time on my cell  and saw that I still had 20 minutes until my flight boarded for Dehradun.  I bought a mug of green tea, relaxed, and said my morning prayer.

George Harrison and More Monkey Business

March 29, 2014 at 10:19 am

As we were passing through a national forest preserve, there were numerous monkeys along the side of the road.      At one point, I looked to the right about 200 feet off  the road, there was a little altar of sorts.  Probably about 3 feet high containing, I am sure, one of the 3 million Hindu gods.  Facing it with their backs to the road, were 5 monkeys of various sizes.  Could have been a family.  They looked like they were sitting there staring at it.  ( I have been told that Hindus consider the monkey as the last animal reincarnation before returning as a human.  These monkeys have futures as altar boys or girls).   They were as cute as can be.

When I arrived at the hotel where Kathleen has been this week while I was working in Delhi, she told me a story of a monkey swinging onto the balcony of a room, entering an open door, and proceeding to go directly to the mini bar where the little rascal was found drinking the artificial dairy products!  Kathleen warned me to keep the door to the balcony locked as the monkeys have been known to simply open them to enter a room.  She said that she has found monkey scat on our balcony.

I am sitting now on the balcony looking out over Rishikesh which is a city on the Ganges.   There is a mountain range in the distance beyond the city.  Rishikesh is where the Beatles came in the mid 60s and met George’s maharishi.  As we drove through the forest,  George’s “My Sweet Lord” ( All Things Must Pass) was running through my mind.   When we reached the city, it felt like we could be anywhere in India despite its Beatle magic. Suddenly, my driver slammed on his brakes as a large hog darted across the road in front of him.  I thought we were going to hit it for sure.  Then we turned a corner and saw a large oxen use it horns to lift up a young oxen about 20 percent of his size and throw the youngster on its side.  My driver exclaimed.

Below me now as I look out over the city of Rishikesh is the sound of running water tumbling down a mountainside.   Shalom.

20 minutes after writing this message I heard some loud noises outside.  It was a monkey screaming at another monkey.  I looked over to my right and on a balcony next to us was a little monkey with an apple in his mouth and two more in his arms.  The hotel rooms all have apples and oranges set out for the guests.  He tried to shimmy quickly down two stories on a supporting structure of the hotel, but found it difficult to do so with his arms full of apples.  But the other monkey was threatening him so he dropped the apples from his arms and scooted down.  As soon as those apples fell, the other monkey jumped face first  flying through the air after them.  He picked them up and ran off.  Our other friend ran off with an apple still held in his mouth.

I have yet another postscript to add now 24 hours later.  Kathleen was sitting on the balcony this morning reading when a monkey walked across the front of the balcony on the other side of the railing.  After it went next door, it turned around and stared at Kathleen.  He must have sensed her fear.  He walked over to the door that was cracked open to our room and opened it.  He entered and took an apple and an orange that housekeeping had left for us.  He walked out and went to our neighbor’s balcony to enjoy his snack.  See Kathleen’s picture at www. hearthyoga.com