Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Taking Papa and Mama to the Hospital Part Three: Conclusion

Greetings Fellow Network of Love Lovers,

And now…the long awaited conclusion to my day in the hospital with Mama and Papa. I know you all have been waiting patiently to hear how it ends! (By all of you, I mean to say my own mother. So Mom, this is how it ends.)

The translator finally shows up. Yay! She is a newly retired French high school teacher who now works independently as a translator. When Barbara enters the room, a calm comes with her. I found it so interesting to see how Mama Collette’s mood shifted when she knew she had someone she could freely talk to about what her husband was going through. Mama could communicate. Mama felt the peace that comes with one of the most intimate ways we know how to express ourselves. Though our love for each other runs deeper than any word can express, it is through our words that we try to express what that love means or how it feels to us. By having a translator at her side, Mama could open herself and let go of some of the added stress of facing a language barrier.

While I typed the sentence “Mama could communicate,” an idea about the way in which we worship in the Catholic Church came into my head. (Sorry to get side tracked. It is sometimes my style to wander while writing and thinking. I apologize.) I thought about the Latin Mass. For those of you who don’t know what that means, I’m referring to the style of mass that was celebrated before Vatican II, that is before the mid 1960’s. Up until that time, the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church celebrated, as the name suggests, in the Latin language. One of the more progressive movements of the Second Vatican Council (This is the council that met in the early 1960s to update aspects of the Catholic Church. Councils consist of the Hierarchy of the Church. Bishops get together to discuss various teachings and ideas in their church and vote to make changes. This is an extremely basic summary of what the council is and what it does. For more information, maybe google Vatican II).

Anyways, I have reflected on the Latin Mass and the change that must have occurred when people could actually worship in their own language. What an amazing change for the largest body of Christians, to be able to actually understand what comes out of the mouth of a person leading in prayer! The doors that this change opened up for lay involvement in the church (those who aren’t ordained ministers are referred to as “lay” members of the church) moved the church forward toward a body of believers that could someday resemble the early Christians who followed the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.

This may sound sort of bizarre to people outside of the Catholic Church, but there is a minority of people within our church (though a growing minority, many of whom are younger people) who would like to see the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church implement more Latin into the mass. Some of these people would even like to see a universal change in which the Latin Rite would revert to Latin Mass.

It is hard for me to fully comment on this issue. I have yet to attend a Latin Mass. Does that make me a terrible member of the Latin Rite? (kidding). What I will say is this: the people who want to see a universal language used in the church have one argument that, on the surface, has some merit to it. They claim that using one and only one language throughout the world would unite Catholics. We would all worship in one language and would therefore be able to more effectively communicate with each other while we worship.

There are a few counters to this argument. The first begs the question of why would the church want to use a language like Latin to unite its followers? For one, Latin is considered a dead language. Second, Latin has no historical connection to the person Jesus Christ or the Gospels inspired by his life and resurrection.

The second counter to the argument of using one universal language moves to a more emotional ground. There is something special about going to mass in a different country and hearing people worship in a language they know and love and think in. There is something sacred about a group of people from an area bringing their culture into this group we call Christians. To keep the identity of each group of people from around the world who come to worship keeps our Latin Rite a rite that welcomes and cherishes the tradition and ways of each member in the group.

To bring Mama and Papa back into this rant about Latin Mass, something most of you probably don’t really care that much about anyways, I think of them when I look at the second part of the argument against someday reinstating one language into the worship of Latin Rite Catholics around the world. Mama and Papa have come to the U.S. and know little English. They come to mass and worship with our community at All Saints Catholic Church in a language they barely recognize. Despite that fact, as I sat by Mama last week in church, I witnessed her sway to the wonderful music of our choir and I heard her singing along. She had found a way to connect with a culture outside of her own in a particularly sacred place for a particular community of followers of Jesus Christ. The service was a time for her to feel rejuvenated and to connect with the Christ she calls her Lord. She (and hear comes the end of the story) could give praise to God for the care her husband now receives from a doctor in the Milwaukee area to help him cope with diabetes and to continue to make sure he stays in the kind of health that allows him to be as connected spiritually, emotionally and physically with the woman he loves and the son he cares deeply about.

Could Mama and Papa worship at our church in Latin if it was offered? Of course. Would they experience the diversity and spirit of a community that worships in a language they know and love and a language that allows them to, without barely thinking, sing and give praise to God? Would Mama learn to sing along in a language she desperately wants to learn so she can better help her husband and son? I think the answer to that question is no.

Who would have thought I would have connected Latin Mass and the story of Mama and Papa? I didn’t think so as I sat down to right this reflection. Ahh…where the Spirit takes our hands when we write! I leave the debate for Latin Mass up for discussion in this blog. Please, if you have any comments on the issue, to discuss them freely in the comments section right below this blog. I’d love to hear from anyone, Catholic or non-Catholic, who is interested in talking more about it.

One more comment on Mama and Papa before I finish this long blog. I was in their room a few days ago to go over a little bit of French before I leave for France on Saturday. (Oui, oui!) As I looked around their room, I noticed something near their bed that caught my eye. It rested on a side table. It was a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the same picture I gave Papa as I rushed Mama and him to the hospital a few weeks ago. I can only presume it is the same card. My heart sort of melted when I realized that the picture I had given Papa in a state of confusion on how to show that my thoughts and prayers were with him was still a small part of his life.

Even after I leave All Saints to return to school, Mama and Papa will stay in my memory. The smile of Mama while she cooks in the kitchen here where I live, or the smile on Papa’s face when we both happen to walk out of our doors at the same time. Sharing living space with these two people has given me an experience I never imagined I would have had. I never thought I would meet people from the Congo! It is interesting to see what and who the Spirit brings into our lives as we continue to live.

A Native American Spiritual idea goes something like this: all of the people in our lives our gifts from God, but gifts on loan. We don’t stay with anyone forever, but we stay united with everyone, we hope, forever in some mysterious way. I want to say Bon Voyage to Mama and Papa until the three of us meet again. Marcel and Collette will stay in my heart.

Today, try and cherish someone close to you as if they are on loan from God. Look into their eyes and see them as something you may not have with you forever, but someone you will be connected with through an Infinite Source forever.

Peace and blessings friends! Enjoy the day.

With love,

Your friend bob.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Taking Papa and Mama to the Hospital Part Two

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

Once we arrived at Wheaton Franciscan, we began a demanding wait to receive care. I should say the wait was demanding most on Papa---I was just the healthy twenty-year old driver sent to the hospital with Papa and Mama. I could tell the wait to see a healthcare specialist was demanding on Mama as well. The poor thing kept writing Papa’s symptoms on a scratch sheet of paper: dizziness, much urination, very tired. Mama was busy flipping through her French to English translation dictionary to make sure everything she wrote was accurate. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the nurse already had the information and, until Papa a nurse or doctor actually checked on Papa, the nurse in the waiting room could do little to help him. Collette was simply trying to make sure her husband’s sickness could be best treated. What she really needed was a translator. What took the most time to obtain was a French translator.

As we waited, a nurse came to ask Papa his birthday. Trying to work our way through Collette’s broken English, I managed to pose the question to her. Or so I thought she understood. Her response was “1946.” I pressed her on the exact date. She shook her head, and so I figured the date was unknown. Of course, the nurse was not having any of this. Papa had neither a birthday nor a social security number. This, apparently, was going to be an issue.

I felt for these people from The Congo, here in this country simply to be with a son in a coma. Collette and Marcel came to Milwaukee just over five months ago to be closer to their son who they cannot really communicate with. They wanted to be closer to him, I presume, because they wonder how long he has left on this world. I’m sure, judging by the incredible faith both possess, they pray everyday to God for a miracle that would send their son into a state of normalcy. Most of all, I presume they pray to God thanking God for all of lives blessings. These are the kind of people you want to draw some sort of truth from. These are the kind of people that “get it.” They understand the essence of life more than many of us do. Like a woman said to me this morning while I was working the Kenosha Farmer’s market, life is really about people. Isn’t that so true? We are social beings called to live, one way or another, with and for other people. At the moments in the hospital, Collette was living extra hard for her husband Marcel. And though he had little strength left to draw from, the Spirit that still kept him breathing I feel must have kept Papa’s mind on his wife. I have to believe that his heart clutched hers as his head spun from dizziness and his body suffered from an overwhelming feeling of physical weakness.

We finally were given a room to wait in about 45 minutes after getting to the hospital. Thankfully, I was able to clear the birthday issue up with Papa and Mama. After language negotiations, I found out his actual birth date. It would be at least another 45 minutes, if not an hour, until someone saw Papa. During the time of waiting, I witnessed something I didn’t expect from a person as strong and tough as Mama Collette. Collette, the woman with all the smiles and all the joy and happiness, was crying. She couldn’t contain her emotions any longer. She told me, in her thick French accent, that life was very difficult for her right now. First, her son was in a coma and now, her husband. It nearly broke my heart. There was nothing I could to except put a hand on Collette’s shoulder. In one way, I felt out of place in the room. But in another way, I felt like I could at least offer some sort of solace to the grieving, aching woman. I did what seemed like a good idea at the time and stood up, walked over to a box of tissues in the hospital room, plucked a piece of tissue and handed it to Mama. Through sniffles, she said thank you. It was probably a better move than trying to console her using the five words I know in French. (I know a few more since the trip to the hospital because I am prepping myself for a trip to France in a week. But that’s completely irrelevant information right now).

So does this story get better? Or are we just left with a crying mother and wife, and a husband who is dizzy and feeling very weak? Well, I’ll give away some of the ending. The story DOES get better, thank God. In my opinion, it starts to get better when the translator finally comes.

To be continued…

Peace and blessings!

With love,

Your friend bob.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Being with Mama and Papa: Part One

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

(This was written last week when the weather wasn’t as lovely as it was today!)

It’s mid-summer. That means hot and muggy (but lovely) here in Milwaukee and the mid-west at large. Thanks to the invention of air condition some long time ago, I sit in a comfortably tempered room in a comfortably tempered building.

I spent Thursday in an air-conditioned building as well, except this one felt a little too chilly. In my opinion, hospitals are always a little too cold to be comfortable. The chill in the air may be a bit of a psychological reaction on my part in regards to being in a place that we sometimes see as uncomfortable. After being at the hospital for a while yesterday, I came to the conclusion that it would be very difficult for me to work in a hospital environment. Besides the fact that I’ve ruled out the notion of becoming a nurse or doctor because I’m bad at science and math and because I don’t care to dive into either of the two fields as I continue on in school, I feel less than adequate in a medical setting. I sometimes get the impression that hospitals are very sterile and isolated, though the people in them are often warm and engaging. I suppose it takes a person with the ability to see beyond their environment to really excel in a hospital. After spending most of my Thursday in a hospital, I respect all staff members at hospitals, nursing homes, and other such facilities. They have truly blessed and warm hearts to serve in their respected jobs.

So why was I at the hospital? Well, a couple named Collette and Marcel (I call them Papa and Mama) had to be taken to the hospital. Papa Marcel woke up Thursday morning feeling incredibly tired and dizzy. Every time he tried to get out of bed, he said the room felt like it was spinning all around him. When we helped the poor man get out of bed, I realized just how weak he must have felt. He slowly dragged himself out of bed and then relied on his wife and me (though I felt more like a nuisance than anything else) to help him get down the steps to my car.

While in the car, I tried my best to keep Papa and Mama feeling as peaceful as they could in this very tense of situations. I surfed through a couple of radio stations and found one that was playing some world music. Though it probably didn’t sound much like anything the couple would have expected to hear in their native country of the Congo, I figured it was the closest thing I could offer them. Plus, it’s always fun to claim you have an eclectic musical taste–––even if it is a bit of a hoax.

In addition to turning on the radio, I offered Papa a prayer card I keep near my dashboard. It is a picture of Jesus with an image of the Sacred Heart. If you never seen it before, imagine a picture of Jesus with rays shooting of his heart. It’s a card that I kept in my car for quite sometime, sort of as a reminder while I drive not to drive terribly crazy, and as a way to remind me that I believe in a strange, strange way we are all connected by a Higher Spirit, what my faith tradition refers to as the “Holy Spirit.” Some people have rosaries hanging in their car. Others have guardian angel pins or Jesus figurines. I had my Sacred Heart picture. I say had because it is now in the possession of Papa Marcel. And that’s where it is now meant to be. I hope that, as he clutched onto the card on the ride to the hospital, he was able to soothe his mind from any of the worries the dizziness and sickness might have caused him to have. As awkward as the exchange of the card from me to him was, for Papa speaks little to no English and I speak…ahh…five words in French, the transaction was the only thing I could think of to do to show Papa that my prayers were with him as he hoped for the best.

Reflection to be continued in the coming days…

Peace and blessings!

With love,

Your friend bob.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Problem with the Peace Posting?

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the gospel reading the Catholic Church used yesterday for the daily mass. Funny, because my last post was all about spreading the peace of Jesus Christ. The gospel reading I am referring to from yesterday reads:

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s enemies will be those of his household.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man’s reward.

And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple–
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

This text comes from the end of Chapter 10 in the Gospel of Matthew. When I first read this and then heard it aloud, I was sort of astounded that the writer of the gospel would have Jesus saying such a thing. It seems contrary to "Peace be with you," or "love one another." Jesus comes to "bring not peace but the sword?" Is this really what we are supposed to take to heart if we subscribe to the Christian way of life? Come on!

The particular gospel passage I quote above tugs at me in one sense because I tend to feel closest to God and neighbor when I am most at peace. But maybe, just maybe, this is a subtle sign of me turning too far inward to obtain an earthly peace. Maybe, this gospel reading is meant to turn my stomach into a knot and make me feel uncomfortable, even restless. Maybe, this is a challenge from the writer of the gospel. If I look at this teaching as a reason to be angry at injustice around our world, then I am able to, in a minuscule way, understand what this passage in Matthew is getting at. Jesus might be coming to bring the sword to fight against the oppressive forces of his day, first century Palestine. The sword might be aimed at those in power who seek to abolish the rights of the citizens under their reign. The sword saves in that it cuts the net that the oppressed find themselves under. The sword saves in a metaphorical sense. If Jesus were to bring only peace, how could he have fought injustice? We can fight in a peaceful way, but when we fight we are attempting to slay injustices.

I'm still struggling with this gospel reading. I found a website where a woman named Kay Murdy posts daily reflections about each gospel reading. Here is what Kay had to say about yesterday's gospel.

Jesus was aware that his message would not be accepted by everyone, and he exhorted the twelve apostles to have courage under persecution. He warned them that members of their own families might be their adversaries. Those who wished to follow in Jesus' footsteps, must be willing to put the gospel before all else, even their own lives. They must be prepared to be treated like the prophets of old who suffered for proclaiming God's word. The apostles wer Christian "prophets" who would speak God's saving message of the new covenant. Whoever received these followers of Jesus were receiving Jesus himself, and God who sent him, and they would be rewarded for their kindness to God's messengers.

Borrowed from Kay Murdy,

The bold words from Jesus to his disciples regarding the sword and peace are, in Murdy's opinion, meant to promote courage in proclaiming the gospel message. If the disciples go out and "fight" to bring the word of God to people, then it seems more like a mission with a purpose, the purpose being to spread a message of love and hope. Jesus encourages his apostles to put love before everything, put it before their own aspirations and dreams so as to make the spreading of love their complete and lasting aspiration. That sword, then, is meant to cut through the hardness of all of our hearts and expose a sincere heart ready to bleed for all sisters and brothers.

I can't look at this gospel reading in Matthew as justification for the use of violence in the promotion and spreading of the Christian message. If that is the intention of the Gospel writers, then my amateur interpretation of and musing on this gospel reading is sadly mistaken. I can not possibly imagine Jesus is literally telling his apostles to use swords to spread the word. But I can imagine a Christ, a prophet, who comes to sweep over the people in such an intense way that it seems as if his message is supported by the use of swords and violence. His message of complete love and hope is so radical, his desire for political and religious change in his time so swift, that he seems like a sword cutting through the sometimes naively accepted establishments. The sword is a symbol of passion, and if we can look at it as a sword cutting oppression so as to free people to the message of complete and universal love and worth, then by bringing a sword, the message and life of Jesus will, as he passes from this world and lives in our midst today in some mysterious way, somehow, someway bring peace into our world. It is up to us to bring peace, for as Jesus says in the Gospel of John:

"I can guarantee this truth: Those who believe in me will do the things that I am doing. They will do even greater things because I am going to the Father."

Jesus brings the sword and when he "goes to the Father," it is part of our responsibility as followers, even simply as lovers of humanity, to draw from his sword so as to promote and produce peace in our world.

Please post any comments or reactions to this posting. I feel like this reading might spark some reaction from others.


with love,

your friend bob.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Peace Post

Greetings Fellow Network of Love Lovers!

I took a swim at a park near my parent's house today. I couldn't resist taking advantage of the weather we were given this day. After my swim, I took a walk, on which I passed a skinny white wooden post sticking out of the ground. I'm not quite sure of the function of the post, but it sure reminded me of a similar looking post on campus at Loyola University in Chicago. The post there, however, could be referred to as a "Peace Post," in reference to the slogan it wears: "May Peace Prevail on Earth." The three other sides of the post have the same message written in three different languages, one, I'm fairly certain, being Arabic, and another quite possibly in Hebrew. Whatever the case, the sign is an obvious ode to the diversity of those who want peace, the universality of the message of peace, and the necessity that all people from all world religions and all customs work together to achieve a lasting peace.

The Peace Post is always a pick me up on the way to and from class. Especially if I've just received "one of those grades," the ones we don't talk about unless to vent in front of close friends. But then, there is that Peace Post, urging me to constantly realize the larger reality outside of who I am.

It is easy to get tangled up in some of the messes of my own life. All of you can probably relate. Stress and anxiety over work, school, social life, etc, can bring us into a less than desired inner life. It is in this state, where we often find ourselves, that we are no longer possible instruments for peace. When I am talking smack about a close friend or family member, I am no longer a peace giver for them. On the contrary, I am a peace taker. And worse, I'm doing it in a subtle fashion that I feel confident they won't find out about. Ahhh...but how this can come back to haunt us in so many ways! I find that if there is someone who I have had some less than choice words for in the past that I am faced to face in the present, I am a bit intimated or even embarrassed. This is a natural function of our conscience, and it's that inner voice telling us that what we said or thought about that person was wrong...was peace taking.

But...I am human and I have to understand that being so comes with its boundaries. I could never, even if I wanted to, be a constant peace giver. I'd be burnt out if I tried to always spread peace everywhere I go. If you are someone who is very driven to bring good into your areas of expertise, I challenge you to continue to do so, but In a fashion that allows you to take some peace for yourself. This peace, once taken, can be distributed to those in need. It is a give and take world in which we live in, and, to see this for better is a liberating realization. Once we can free our minds from the burdens of the world, we can start to open our Spirit to draw peace and distribute peace to the world around us.

Starting small can lead to giant results. Think about people like Dorothy Day. I was just talking to a woman today who brought up the example of Day, the wonderful saint who started the Catholic Worker movement in which people lived in small communities to serve those in need. For Catholic Worker Communities, to serve the poor is to bring peace into the world. For Dorothy Day, being only one person, her dream was fulfilled in a small sense by bringing peace to a brother or sister. It turned out that her Spirit motivated countless others to live the teachings of the Gospel. One small step toward peaceful action on the part of Dorothy Day was one giant step towards peace for some of the more down trodden areas in the United States.

Peace comes in many different packages, but once opened, every package is a unique gift to this world. I hope we can all foster peace in our own lives, experience peace from other people, and ultimately help usher in a world where peace really can prevail. For now we have posts and people to remind us of what we want to work for.


with love,

your friend bob.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Reunited for a Run

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

Call me crazy, but this morning I woke up excited to live. Despite having had slept for less than six hours in a foreign bed (though I am used to the feel of a dorm room bed and the mattress at the All Saints rectory), I woke up anticipating and longing for the breaths I breathe. Why?

Well, I think one of the events I am really anticipating is getting together tonight with my running partner from freshmen year in college. Her and I took many runs while I attended UW-Madison, runs that found us talking about so many wonderful and invigorating things, runs that seemed to always lift me up a little. I rest in the longing to be reunited with her and to feel the wind rush by us as she shares with me her experience of Italy, France and Switzerland, the places she has spent nearly the last two months. I look forward to telling her more about my visit to El Salvador, my upcoming trip to France, and my summer thus far.
Though we can never try and over-anticipate the rewards of being with a person we really care about, we can realize that time spent with that person is going to be time worth spending and time worth cherishing. I cherished our runs and I pray that tonight my Spirit is reinvigorated by being in contact with her vivacious and warming Spirit.

I am in Madison for these few days taking a class at Edgewood College taught by a theologian named James Alison. This is what has brought me back to the city I first went off to for college. Alison's talks have been truly unique and greatly mind blowing. In a nutshell, he is turning around some of our preconceived notions of how a monotheistic God came to be. Instead of there being a singular revelation, and that revelation taking form in a text we now call the Bible, Alison shows that the concept of monotheism has been much more a discovery and process that last for centuries and really, when we think about it, continues to this very day. In some ways, looking at monotheism as an ongoing discovery may seem a bit frustrating in that it refutes the notion that we have all the answers from our Creator. However, stepping back to ponder and maybe accept such a claim can allow us to view the Hebrew discovery of a monotheistic God as, as Alison puts it, a freeing experience. The Hebrew God of freedom allows us to look at the world as if every event that happens to us and those around us is an insight into the complexities of this world. If we allow ourselves the effort to see everything and everyone as something new and exciting, then the world is full of light, not darkness. Our objective, if we are people who want to love and spread love, is to be a beacon of light and hope. This is not easy, but it is freeing. As James Alison puts it, we rely on a deeper "Other other" to sustain us and to give us an identity, as opposed to the more superficial "social-other" that dominates so much of our life. This is not to say it is wrong to want to appear to be a particular person in front of other people, the "social others." On the contrary, we are primarily social beings with needs and desire for community, relationships and love. The "Other-other," or God, should rest at a deeper level within our heart and mind, so that we may always stay connected to that force which has allowed us to take on aspects of the human person. This is the suggestion from Alison and his suggestion, which I find incredibly intriguing, is that we look at much of the teachings presented in the Bible as callings to associate ourselves most intimately with the "Other-other," while still being a social being. We want to desire abundance, Alison claims, desire the Other-other. This desire conjures up an image of a person wrapping her hands around as much of her life as she can, inhaling, and giving a large hug as she slowly exhales her talent and love onto the world surrounding her.

And so I digress.

peace and blessings friends!

with love,
your friend bob.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Decision of the Mother

Greetings Fellow Network of Love Lovers!

I’d like to write briefly on a sermon I heard in church this Sunday. Father Tom Suriano, a retired priest from the Milwaukee Archdiocese, was the guest preacher at All Saints. His sermon focused on the broad topic of peace, but the way in which he delivered his talk was unique.
Woven in between a discussion of bible text and present day struggles to find peace, Suriano introduced an interesting tidbit about the tradition of a particular Native American tribe known as the Iroquois. Before the Iroquois leaders ever declared war on another people, they had to have special permission from one group in the tribe. The group to be asked, as one might guess, was NOT the male elders or the political leaders or the leaders in battle. Instead, the Iroquois, before they fought another tribe, had to have permission from the mothers of the young men who would ultimately be doing the fighting. Suriano told the congregation this story before diving into the meat of his sermon.
During the heart of his preaching, he discussed how as baptized people, those of us sitting in the seats on Sunday must go out and be advocates for peace. He said that it is through our belief that a person could actually come and teach a people how to live, be a savior, a messiah for a society, should give us the strength and courage to persevere in our ongoing prayer for peace.
Each of us is called to bring light into the world in our own special way. Thankfully, we are all created in an image not like anyone else. (Twins often look like each other, but, if you know any twins, you know that sometimes they are miles apart in terms of personality.) We should look at our differences as ways to foster friendships and build community and family that unites unique people. If we as Christians, or simply as people who want to see peace prevail, stand together to save the world as–––as Christians believe–––Jesus Christ showed in his appearances here in this world, then we have to have faith in a more loving world community.
Suriano brought his sermon to a close by bringing the community back to the idea of the Iroquois’ way to decide when to fight and when to stay home. He asked us, after posing we seriously consider what a Christian can bring to the negotiation for world peace, to ponder this particular notion. What if, in this “modern” world, we were to leave the decision of when we wage war in the minds and the hearts of the women who brought a soldier into this world? What if Christians were respected enough as a group of people to be asked if this war should really happen? What if Christians were like those mothers of the soldiers?
Suriano seems to have been asking us to consider ourselves mothers, or parents, to each and every young person we send overseas to fight for the United States of America. If placed in the shoes of a person who helped to raise a unique, wonderful, gifted person, who carried a child in her womb for nine months and began a lifelong bond with that child, could we honestly say that this war should be fought? Can we look into the eyes of our teenagers being sent to war and tell them to go off to battle? These are questions worth asking ourselves, and they are questions that, in the tradition of the Iroquois, could only have been answered by the mothers of the soldiers. We might want to let the mothers of our soldiers today give some answers.


With love,

Your friend bob.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Andy's Aunt

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

It's Wednesday, a sun filled, hot day here in Milwaukee WI. With blue sky all above me, how could I not be relatively happy? Seize the sunny moments today!

On Monday I had lunch with my friend Andy and his aunt. Andy and I go way back. We played together in a band in highschool, playing little gigs here and there around our area. The two of us, along with two friends from my high school, had enough fun to play music together throughout our highschool years. And we ended up meeting a band called Lifehouse because we were incredibly lucky. But that's another story.

Anyways, back to Andy and his aunt. Andy is one of the most sincere, caring, thoughtful friends I have. We don't see each other that often because he is busy struggling through dental school at Marquette and I am busy struggling through seminary at Loyola in Chicago. However, when we do get together, the conversation and time spent is anything but a struggle, always really satisfying (I'm speaking about my end of the deal...maybe Andy can't stand me!). So when Andy invited me out to lunch with an aunt of his, how could I say no?

My yes to lunch turned out to make for an incredible mid-afternoon with a good friend and his aunt. In the process, I became a friend to a middle aged world traveler excited about life and excited to grow in understanding of the people and places in and of this world. Andy's aunt took great interest in hearing my story and a little about where I interpret my life to be at this stage of it. She also seriously cared for the goodwill of her nephew Andy. I could tell, from the way she spoke to him and the things she spoke about with him, that she put a lot of stake in making sure Andy is content and peaceful in his current situation.

This aunt, I'm fairly certain, was the sister of Andy's mother. While we were in high school, Andy's mother lost a battle with cancer. He rarely spoke about it and I could tell that it was an incredibly delicate subject for him to think about, let alone talk about. I can only imagine the pain and confusion and anger associated with losing someone so near and dear. To think that Andy was able to cope the way he did is an example of his remarkable spirit and faith. He had the faith to believe that his mother would want him to stay driven, motivated and on the right track. Indeed, he did such, graduating at high levels, continuing on to prepare for dentistry at Marquette, a career his mother had been successful in, and also maintaining his love for music.

In addition to playing with our band, Andy branched out into Irish folk music, playing in Irish folk band with other Marquette students. They have played Irish Fest here in Milwaukee for several years and are to release a full length CD this August. Catch them at Irish Fest this year August 13 - 16 if you are in town!

Back to Andy's aunt. I have discerned that she must have had some sort of impact on him during his mourning. She must have had some sort of impact on him throughout his entire life. This woman, though she has seen the world (especially Europe) and has been away from Milwaukee for months, years at a time, seems to have, in some way, stayed connected to her nephew. The fact that she showed she cared showed me a lot about her character. It is one thing to say you care. It is quite another to show you care.

Her exit, after 2 hours of lunch and conversation, was fitting for her personality. She, if I'm not mistaken, called me her friend and wished me best of luck until next time. It sort of reminded me of the song "Happy Trails." The final line of the song goes something like this: "Happy trails to you, till we meet again." Isn't it a little like in the Christian tradition the belief that Jesus, that all our brothers and sisters will be united in one way or another in eternal bliss? Jesus makes this assertion to his apostles, hence they start a religious community. They share in fellowship, remembering the last supper and the death and reawakening of their beloved rabbi, friend, brother.

I had a lunch with Andy and his aunt "until we meet again." The three of us may or may not again be in the same city at the same time to share a meal together. Nevertheless, we can say we will meet again because that is how we say goodbye to people we meet. If we believe in the possibility that there is some sort of eternity in our midst, whenever, wherever, whatever that may be, then we can say with confidence, or faith, "until we meet again."

Happy Trails to all my fellow N.O.L Lovers.

'Til we meet again~

peace and blessings...

with love,

your friend bob.