Sunday, May 16, 2010

We Did It! We Graduated!

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers,

I am officially a candidate for the Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University of Chicago.  And it sure feels good.  This weekend was graduation weekend for College of the Arts and Sciences students.  Many of my friends joined me in finishing their undergraduate careers at Loyola.  Here is a post that tries to summarize our commencement ceremony:


The forecast for the Rogers Park neighborhood called for cloudy skies on Friday, May 13.  But noonday sunshine proved local weatherpersons wrong during the College of Arts commencement ceremony at Loyola University Chicago.  Some five thousand people gathered in the Gentile Center---mainly spectators sitting in the stands cheering on the students sitting on the basketball court slated to receive undergraduate degrees from Loyola.

Immediately following the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, a small bird (who must have snuck into the arena without showing his ticket at the door) soared above the heads of the students.  It was very apropos on a day where students are metaphorically released from the years of tests and exams and paper writing. 

The undergraduates, all from the College of Arts and Sciences but receiving candidacy for a Bachelor of Arts, came from a variety of cities, states and even countries.  Michele Eken, a Cameroon native, was fortunate to be able to spend the graduation weekend with her parents who flew in for the ceremony. Her facebook message for fellow graduates read, "Congrats to all my fellow graduates no matter where you are and how you chose to celebrate!!!! we did it!!"  Michele plans to attend the University of Chicago law school in the fall. 

Lawrence Tyrone Williams, a political science major from California, offered the student address.  In both delivery and appearance, Williams resembled a young confident Barack Obama.  Several students sent text messages to friends asking if indeed Obama had been invited to speak.  Students may very well be casting a vote for Williams in the future if he continues to polish his political savvy.

Dr. Kevin Bales, president and co-founder of Free the Slaves, the US sister organization of Anti-Slavery International, was conferred the honorary degree and addressed the crowd.  In his speech, Bales discussed some of the startling statistics in regards to modern slavery.  For instance, 27 million people are currently enslaved.  However, Bales managed to provide the students with a sense that their generation could be the one that works to eradicate slavery for good.  

Loyola University prides itself on providing students an education that opens young peoples eyes to injustice while also providing a place to brainstorm ways to bring about a more humane world.  The institution seeks to offer students a "faith that does justice," regardless of the faith tradition in which the student comes from or subscribes to.  The selection of Bales as speaker promoted Loyola's stated values.  Over a dozen students took an opportunity to make a political statement with the top of their graduations caps.  Over a dozen students wrote sayings such as, “Do I look Illegal?” on the top of their graduation caps in protest of Arizona’s recent controversial laws which seek to crackdown on the amount of illegal immigrants living in that state.

As students walked across the stage, their names announced, some members of the crowd could not help but vocally show support for the graduating loved one.  A father screamed “that’s my daughter!” when his child's name was announced, drawing laughter from people in the arena.

Reverend Father Michael Garanzini concluded the ceremony with a traditional prayer for graduating students.  As students were reminded several times during the graduation ceremony, now is their time to put their four year Jesuit education into action. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, the religious order who established Loyola University, described the mission of followers in this way: they are called to “go forth and set the world on fire.” 

Amidst the anxiety of paying off student loans and sailing the uncertainty of an economy still struggling to reclaim itself among the world market, students might find some hope in Ignatius’ words of wisdom.  Fortunately, the new graduates have almost five thousand spectators who are cheering them on along the way, and one soaring bird encouraging them to take flight. 

peace and with love,

your friend bob : )

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Walking Through the City/Feeling Free/An Ode to my Evoke Community

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

This blog comes from a journal entry written several months ago. During the past year, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a group on campus at Loyola University Chicago called "Evoke Scholars." We were (are) a group of seven students who met once a week, generally sharing a meal together every Tuesday night. After the meal, we would share a bit of our lives with one another–––the group was part faith sharing, part story telling and complete moment making; each of us transformed each other through the vehicle of intentional community. Though the seven of us did not choose to make ourselves part of a club we became an Evoke family, a set of incredibly close allies. Through my connection with the seven members of my Evoke family, Daniel, Dave, Molly, Kylie, John and Laura, I am fortunate to know people who I consider lifelong friends.

As a token of my appreciation to them, I want to share some stories from Evoke. This first blog post comes from the journal we passed around as a community activity. Over the course of several weeks, one Evoke scholar was responsible for maintaining the pages of our Evoke journal. I had the journal in early March; the following excerpt comes from a subway ride through the city on a particularly mild March afternoon, from what I recall. It is a reflection on the earlier walk I took through the city, and the way in which the energy from the walk seemed to me to resemble a type of prayer.

March 12, 2010: Evoke Scholars Journal:

I wanted to write briefly about the continued inner peace I find just walking through the city and being with the flow of Chicago. I feel super free strolling down the streets of Chicago with (or without) my I-pod buds in my ears. For me, moments of walking the streets elicit images of mantra type prayer---but instead of sliding your fingers from one bead to another, or repeating a phrase in honor of a Higher Power, the walker finds spiritual moments in movement. In motion, I feel a sense of exodus and liberation. Prayer can involve movement. The spiritual exercises need not be passive, sedentary activities. Movement of any sort can be Spirit-filled. Ecstatic, exuberant, blissful---Spirit-filled movement is a forward-thinking prayer that invites the mover to move on and ahead. A dot in the city, so let it be. I love feeling free---like a swinging someone, lost and found in a willow tree.

peace and with love,

your friend bob : )

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Miracle in Baseball World

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

I wanted to share with you this morning a story about perfection. While as humans we might never reach perfection in every facet of our lives, Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden reached perfection during the course of a baseball game he will never forget. I hope you enjoy this story and the relevancy it carries on Mother's Day Weekend. Braden, having lost his mother while he was in high school, pointed to the sky at the end of the game, thanking her, in a sense, for the gift of life. And Braden said the holiday, one that has not been easy for him since his mother died, is made a lot better with the perfect game and with his grandmother in the stands cheering him on.

peace and with love,

your friend bob : )

Oakland's Braden is perfect against Rays

By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Baseball Writer Janie Mccauley, Ap Baseball Writer – Mon May 10, 12:50 am ET

OAKLAND, Calif. – Dallas Braden definitely owns the mound now.

Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in major league history on Sunday, shutting down the majors' hottest team and leading the Oakland Athletics to a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Braden threw his arms in the air after Gabe Kapler grounded out to shortstop for the final out, his simmering feud with Yankees star Alex Rodriguez merely a footnote to the first perfect game for Oakland in 42 years.

The closest the Rays got to a hit was Jason Bartlett's liner to third leading off the game. Evan Longoria tried to bunt leading off the fifth, drawing boos from the small crowd.

"Pretty cool," Braden said. "I don't know what to think about it just yet. There's definitely a select group. I'd like to have a career more than today."

Before this gem, Braden was best known for his enraged reaction to Rodriguez walking across the mound on April 22. Still angry after the game, he told the slugger "to go do laps in the bullpen" if he wanted to traipse across a mound.

The squabble was still simmering last week. On Friday in Boston, Rodriguez said he didn't want to extend Braden's "extra 15 minutes of fame."

A-Rod struck a far more conciliatory tone Sunday.

"I've learned in my career that it's always better to be remembered for some of the good things you do on the field, and good for him," Rodriguez said before facing Boston. "He threw a perfect game. And, even better, he beat the Rays."

That said, Braden's grandmother may have gotten the last word:

"Let's forget it, uh huh — and stick it, A-Rod," said a chuckling Peggy Lindsey, who was in the stands watching.

After the Yankees' 9-3 loss at Boston, Rodriguez was told a comment — presumably referring to Lindsey's remark — was made following Braden's perfect game.

"Uncle. No more guys," Rodriguez said.

Asked about it later in a different way, he said: "Uncle. Uncle." And then, Rodriguez walked away.

This was the majors' first perfect game since Mark Buehrle did it for the White Sox against the Rays on July 23, and the second no-hitter this season after Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez accomplished it in Atlanta on April 17.

"I'm a bad omen. That's the third perfect game and fourth no-hitter I've been on the wrong side of," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "When Kenny Rogers threw his I was the bullpen coach. If you want to see another one, just follow me around."

Braden pitched the A's first perfect game since Hall of Famer Jim "Catfish" Hunter's gem on May 8, 1968, against the Minnesota Twins. Only 6,298 were there to witness it. Sunday's crowd at the Coliseum wasn't much better: 12,228.

Braden (4-2) wasn't fazed by anything, locating his fastball in every spot, throwing two-strike changeups and getting quick outs against a Rays team that lost on the road for just the third time this year. He struck out six in the improbable 109-pitch performance, throwing 77 strikes in his 53rd career start and first complete game.

Braden's teammates mobbed him when the Mother's Day masterpiece was over, leaving bats and gloves scattered on the field. The left-hander pointed to the sky in honor of his single mom, Jodie Atwood, who died of skin cancer when he was a high school senior. He shared a long and tearful hug with Lindsey, who helped raise him, in front of the dugout.

"It hasn't been a joyous day for me in a while," Braden said. "With my grandma in the stands, it makes it a lot better."

Braden's perfect game was the sixth no-hitter in Oakland history. The 26-year-old Braden, a native of nearby Stockton, was a 24th-round draft pick by the A's in 2004. He improved his career record to 18-23.

"Little League, I got a couple of them under my belt," Braden said. "In the bullpen, I'm damn near perfect every day."

His grandmother gets the game ball, the Stockton Hall of Fame everything else (Click here to finish story).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Weekend to Everyone!

A Mother’s Day Prayer

by Maureen McCann Waldron

Creighton Online Ministries website has many prayers by and for mothers. Click here. Here is a Mother’s Day prayer:

I [we] thank you, Creator of us all, for my [our] mother[s].

I thank you that she gave me life and nurtured me all those years. She gave me my faith, helping me to know you and to know Jesus and his ways. She taught me how to love and how to sacrifice for others. She taught me that it was okay to cry and that I should always tell the truth.

Bless her with the graces she needs and which you want to give her today. Help her to feel precious in your eyes today and to know that I love her. Give her strength and courage, compassion and peace.

Bless her this day with your love.

peace and with love,

your friend bob : )

Friday, May 7, 2010

New Posting after half a year

Greetings fellow Network of love lovers!

I thought I would post because, well, it has been months since I last blogged! Things have changed in my personal life since I last signed on blogspot. I just finished my last term paper as an undergraduate student yesterday! Horray and on to freedom from academics for a little over a month---and then I begin graduate studies at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. There, I will work toward my masters of science in journalism. It will be one year of intense studies and rushing around in a city I love and cherish. Further, I will be following my passions, polishing my writing skills and learning from some of the best journalist in the area. I am looking forward, believe it or not, to have professors absolutely tear my writing apart---I need professionals to really edit my material and humble me to the point that I realize writing is as much of a discipline as it is an art. And yet, I am at peace with taking this journey. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead in the coming months and hopeful despite the challenges I will inevitably face.

My change from seminary studies to journalism is not as shocking as one might imagine. I see both professions (ministry and journalism) as being related insofar as members of each, when lived authentically, try to find truths embedded deep in reality and provide people with a glimmer of hope at its core. My spiritual director in seminary always told me that the best preacher holds a bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other---well, perhaps I will someday provide a preacher with content to draw her sermon from! I want to continue to blog either here or elsewhere as I continue this journey toward the life of a journalist.

Today, I offer a heartwarming story about Toby Williams, a 30 year old Chicago man who lives in the southside Englewood neighborhood and who recently graduated with his masters from Northeastern University. Toby has cerebral palsy---the article from the Sun Times describes the obstacles Williams has overcome in his pursuit for a higher education. Toby has succeeded---and his story made the front page of the Chicago Sun Times yesterday! Congratulations to Toby; I wish him the best in his future endeavors. He is an example of hope for our city and hope for our world.

Follow link below to read how Toby Williams mastered at Northeastern University:,CST-NWS-toby06.article

peace and wishing you all good things,

your friend bob : )