Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Winter Wonderland

Winter is not welcomed by people I know.

They hate shoveling snow. One woman I know
complains all the time about the snow and its
impact on her life.

"I don't like winter," she often says to me.

Winter means different things to folks.

It changes people's behavior. Some sleep more, while
others are challenged to enjoy the snow and ski or
walk outside.

When the temperatures are really cold, I tend to stay
home and forget about going out. And, when there
is snow on the way I remain close to home.

Weather does have a lot to do with one's disposition
and attitude.

Amid these snowy, cold and wintry days, I find myself
waiting for the emergence of Spring.

The seasons play a role in God's creation, I'm sure.
Why God made winter, spring, fall and summer is unkown
to me.

What I do know, however, is that as one gets older, one
is challenged by the wet, heavy snow and cold.

Elders abhor winter and flee South often, while others
simply complain as the way of coping.

Michigan's winter wonderland.

We sure do talk about it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happiness is Clergy, Firefighters, Travel Agents, Special Ed Teachers

Studies show that this is true about happiness.

These four jobs rank highest in happiness by research.

They are not laced with salaries beyond $70,000 with
a lot less for clergy. I'm not complaining. I'm challenged not to worry about my salary.
I can pay the bills, stay afloat and remain happy. That's what matters most.

Yet, happiness is found in serving others, mending
hearts, healing hurt, stooping low to lift up life.

As a Catholic pastor I tell you my salary ranges about
$3,000.00 a month including health, care insurance, and
retirement benefits.

Happiness doesn't come from more money then, does it?

It is about connecting, interaction and social links that
makes one happy.

That ever-asking query: Am I happy?

It's all about serving.

Studies prove it.

So, why are so many students in business administration
or economics courses today?

Why is there so much conflict, violence and more?

Are the unhappy responsible for the statistics that comprise
most of the half-hour news shows daily?

And, what are we to do about this problem that can be
fixed by each person. Mind you, it won't take the government
to mend the unhappiness that envelopes many lives today.

Happiness points to me reaching out, making a call,
connecting, and serving others.

I know.

And, am glad to report happiness in my heart and life.

Despite reports that may show otherwise, happy clergy
abound, and, firefighters, travel agents, and special
education teachers.

Talk with them. Or, watch them whistle while they work, perhaps.

And, find a job, or pursue one that follows your deepest bliss, and, be happy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

First Personal Fitness Guru, Discipline Icon

The first personal trainer died at 96.

Discipline that he taught is admirable, isn't it?

Jack LaLanne, the exercise king!

He admitted he never took a day off!

The squats, lunges and more. Mostly with a
chair for support.

When one looks at his life and love of movement,
one could easily tire.

But, not Jack. He went on and on with push-ups,
pull-ups and more. Jack taught us much about
routine, regular exercise, diet, and a long life, for sure.

I bet he'll be God's personal trainer as he passes
over, and begins another journey.

After all, physicists say that these Temple Bodies
that we're given for a limited number of years work
for us for years, then morph and are transformed.
After all, matter and energy is changed, never destroyed.
So, true for us also, and, Jack!

In fact, Jack, said our bodies are our slaves working
for us.

What a legacy he leaves us.

Like regular prayer, worship, eating, walking,
exercising, working, laughing and playing,
Jack, the king of training taught us the importance
of balance.

Homeless, Mentally Challenged, Guns

Is anyone talking about the homeless these days?

Are shelters the lone organizations caring for those freezing in the cold?

What about the mentally challenged?

Do we think that governments should take care of them also?

And guns?

I heard twice today that guns were fired and wounded multiple people in my
beloved home town.

If conversations about these issues are not discussed will the problems only
skyrocket further?

Are we our sister and brother's keepers as the sacred writ notes?

Putting all of these concerns on the governments plate is an impossible burden?

Each of us, it seems, can at least begin the discussion.

Imagination and creativity can assist these human beings who need our

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Football Fun, Friends

Chicago and Green Bay.

These football teams bring togeher many.

Sunday they brought together friends I grew up with on Detroit's eas side.

We shared some home-made vegetable soup, cabbage and Italian sausage, a fresh green
salad with cottage chesse, whole wheat bread, and cookies for dessert.

Larger crowds of friends gathered in the past. Now, however, a few of our boyhood chums
have gone to their eternal reward.

It's always good to gather. I enjoy our meetings with the football games as
our excuse to get together.

Roots, relations and religion.

Conversations revolves around all these topics.

And, the victory by Green Bay was icing on the cake.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jesus Cookies and Middle School Food Skills in Roseville, MI

Each year now, the Roseville Schools withe Mayor John Chirkun, the City Council and the middle school students host a dinner for local clergy.

The students have their own building, kitchen and restaurant that is open almost daily to the public.

It is something I look forward to since it is such a delightful experience.

The young chefs, waitstaff, and kitchen crew pull out all the stops.

For example, Friday we had chicken noodle soup, fish, sausage, a pasta dish, salad, and other home-made treats, including blueberry pie, my favorite. Besides, it's healthy after that
delicious meal.

At a certain point before the meal, I wanted to wash my hands. A host directed me.

On the way back from the rest room, other middle school students were enjoying their
own lunch of Dorito's, and other fast foods that I wondered about.

They asked me about what they called, Jesus Cookies, when I checked if they wanted me to bring them some of our lunch.

They all nodded affirming the proposal.

"What are Jesus Cookies," I asked.

There was no response.

They had me waiting for them at the clergy lunch.

None showed.

Upon completion of my lunch, the introductions of each of us, and some facts about the 6,000 students, 50th largest school district in Michigan, I went to thank the crew who cooked.

I inquired about the Jesus Cookies.

"They don't know anything about us," the kitchen manager shouted.

I still don't know what they meant.

It was, however, nice to hear about Jesus in a public school, nevertheless.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Baby Is Better Than An Abortion

"Babies are beautiful gifts from God and reasson to rejoice,"
Ken Pullis of Bishop Foley High School shouted on the phone.

Real life experience of what a culture of life means for high
schools students is seen in the Mary's Mantle home in Southfield,
Michigan, where expectant and single moms choose birth of
their baby.

Students and their moms are hosting a baby shower for Mary's
Mantle resident Melissa and her baby due March 12th.

Some of the same students hosting the shower will March on
Washington, D.C. Monday.

America's most divisive issue will play out as a question of
competing rights forge pro-choice and pro-choice opponents
face to face in the thousands who will march for life..

January 22nd marks the 38th memorial of the Supreme Court's
landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.

A culture of life.

Now that's something worth working for daily amid violence
outside and in the womb whether it's war, poverty, joblessness,
bullying and suicide and more.

A child will lead them, the sacred scriptures note.

A child will!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mentall Illness

Who are the mentally ill?

Ever human being has to grow and work on issues and problems confronted daily.

An inexact social science, psychiatry can assess and hope to get it right.
However, with all due respect to this science of the mind, in my years of counseling for myself, in supervision, and with others in a professional and pastoral role, I have found that is is indeed, a practice.

A supervisor once told me that he was manic while completing his doctoral thesis. He said he could have been diagnosed bipolar given the routine of work and little sleep to complete the project.

Because insurance companies require a diagnosis, and given that we have a need to label and categorize people, the DSM, a manual with codes, was created, and, adds to the maladies every decade or so with a new problem.

Religiosity was added a decades or so ago as a problem when one is obsessive about religion and its own practice.

Someone was diagnosed bipolar by a Ph.D. in psychology and has been considered flawed ever since, and, left outside the loop, as the emplyee's boss call it.

What a shame.

We have a need to lord it it over others with labels.

That same person carved a place in life and is a very productive citizen now, no thanks to
that person's archdiocesan authorities who toy with the practice as if it is another false god, and use it to their advantage against ordinary people struggling to find their place given the "card" dealt them.

This renewed conversation will come up again when the next massacre occurs like that in Tucson.

To grip it is impossible.

Who is mentally ill is a question wide open.

This Nation I love operates like most humans in a most dysfunctional way when it comes to communications. So, go figure?

God help us all.

God, at least, is more stable than this ever-changing practice we call psychiatry, and those we call shrinks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tears, Candles, Bells

Marks of grief. Hearts hurting big time.

Tears flowing, candles lit, and the sound of bells in a grieving Nation.

Humanity's oneness and solidarity links when tragedy strikes suddenly.

Arms, hearts and minds join as one people under God, one nation.

Bigger than bullets and bombs, humans shatter that exported and widely-used
source of capital. We become taller, tougher at the place where we matter most -
at our core, our soul and best selves.

It's what ancient mystics call the True Self removed far from the False Self that masquerades
in many masks and false faces.

At root we are one people, one globe, one world that cries, aches, lights candles, rings bells when horror silences us for sure.

In that silence, stillness, sense of nothing, we stand together with tears wed with loss.

Shadows are overcome by a single sunbeam.

The warmth of candle's light warms the cold, coarse, cruelness that silenced us in Tucson.

Tears leave a trail of toxin, hate and vitriolic vice within each of us.

A single ring of a bell calls us to a higher standard. It does.

A tear waters and refreshes us as we let loose rage and sin in an appropriate, nonviolent way. Water flows down one's face until it settles and dries an unhealed wound.
A candle beams bright with evergreen hope - a virtue, a strength we now need.

A fanfare for the common man. The music rings deep longing for life to live on despite efforts to put out the light within each of us.

Resolve to don't let the light go out. Burn bright with utmost charity, kindness, heartfulness.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

When One Is Violated and Gunned Down, All Suffer

The horror of the massacre in Tuscon, Arizona has to startle each of us.

When one is shot, all suffer in solidarity.

At our best, we are all one people, one Nation under God, one world.

While the U.S. Representative Gifford's prognosis seems optimistic, the demise of so many others, including a child, one must move, not only the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others, to speak out against violence, but each of us to do our share to stop the cycle that seems to be imploding this nation I love.

Our pulpits, parents and others are too quiet to condemn guns, bullying, suicide and attacks on the dignity of every life.

We must rise up.

We can.

It seems we have acquired "learned helplessness" to all the violence that is more common than blowing one's nose these days.

God help us.

Go helps those who help themselves.

The time has come.

Don't let the light go out on life.

It's so dark now. We need the little light each of us can beam.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Father Cutie

The former Catholic priest who is now a married Episcopalian pastor
complains that if he was not caught and captured by media cameras with his fiance on a Florida beach, the Roman Catholic Church hierarchs would have looked the other way.

It became public and action was necessary seemed to be the thinking.

The talented and made-famous by the Oprah Show, Father makes a point.

Much like "don't ask, don't tell," the pervading posture seems to be if you can get away with relationships even though you promised to be celibate as a priest, no problem.

When Pope John Paul II was in Africa many times, and was aware of mistresses priests there were in, he looked the other way in that country where many converts to Catholicity are baptized.

Go figure.

Same-gender attracted priests abound, and bishops are aware of them, however, as long as these relationships do not become public, the leaders seem to ignore the issue. Cutie also says that the church would have to shut down given the enormous number of gay priests, if the issue was confronted head on.

That's what Father Cutie is speaking about when he complans of duplicity and hypocrisy in the media.

Recently, in Michigan's thumb area, an acquaintance who is a businessman mentioned to me this priest's "cousin"who allegedly is the priest's partner living with him in the rectory.

"Why don't bishops let the priests marry, and, there wouldn't be all this hyposcrisy?" he asked over breakfast.

A good question.

I asked him to question his local bishop.

If he does ask him, that is perhaps as far as the issue will go. It seems that American bishops don't let the Vatican know all the information they may need to make the changes to ameliorate these problems in a church that seems to be imploding. And, most seem unwilling to challenge the status quo, even though lawsuits over the sex abuse scandal have caused many dioceses to file for bancrupcy, Milwaukee, being the latest casualty.

God help us all.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Protecting Truth

Someone asked me why is it that "everything in the Church centers on the priests?"

Unsurprised by the question, it confirmed what I have felt for a long time.

Churches seem to be closed, merged, clustered, or, by whatever the latest formula is due to a lack of priests to staff them. Clergy numbers have dwindled.

There are those who claim, however, seminaries are filling up these days, and they will be ordained to fill the gap.

Truth of the matter is hard to acquire.

The same parishioner who asked that question also moaned at how lacking her pastor is in relational skills.

"He laid off the secretary, fired the business manager, and everyone is gone except the religious education director who came to the church in March, months before the pastor took over," she complained.

What people have to put up with, I thought.

There's just too much influence in one pastor. At will, he can fire, hire or do otherwise.

He doesn't have to consult with anyone, let alone his congregation who suffer the consequences of his unilateral actions.

I always thought that the church is to provide the Eucharist for its people, yet, many go without it since fewer priests are around to nourish parishioners with the Bread of Life.

It always seemed that bapism and Eucharist were central to parish life.

Then why does it seem that everything revolves around the pastor?

The parishioner asks a question.

Will anyone be around to respond to it? Does anyone care?

Are parishioners just walking when they're treated without the collaborative family-like style that makes for community?

Truth matters.

The present system isn't working, truth of the matter is.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Talking Today, Always

What else can we do to solve issues confronting us except to talk?


That's all we can do.

But, we must keep at it in 2011.

Dividing lines and walls of whom I will speak with, and, who I will ignore will move us nowhere but in the paralysis that traps us all.

Violence continues to sprial everywhere: Bullying boys in schoolyards, extremests attacking Christians in Egypt, Iraq, and elsewhere, obesity robbing our kids of life, and more.

Doing business as usual will get us to the same place: Nowhere!

We can talk.

Even with enemies, we can converse.

This uncivil, discourteous lack of courtliness in the public square must change today.

Each one can make the difference for the vulnerable, and, those attacked, and youngsters who need our guidance in eating well and being better.

Will you talk?

Resolve to do so please.

The world needs you now.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolutions and Goals in 2011

People do want to change, really.

2011 unfolds with countless efforts to do something to improve one's life and wellness, faith included.

It will take faith and confidence to change, however.

No one can make a resolution along without the support necessary to keep it and see it through.

Telling a trusted, supportive friend of my aim this year to lose a pound a month, for example, keeps me accountable.

Like a ladder, the rungs or steps to the top of it, are the specifics of how I will lose weight and what I will do each day to achieve my goals.

Step by step one makes progress.

Too large a goal frustrates and aborts goals so often.

Easy does it.