After spending 7 hours on the freeway, travelling 60 miles, I walked through our front door claiming I felt like Goldie Hawn’s character in “Overboard.” Hawn spends hours with a chain saw in hand and later sits in a semi-catatonic state muttering, “ba-ba-ba-ba-.” And I wasn’t even driving.
The fatal accident left a semi-truck driver dead and another person hospitalized. Fiery vehicles and strewn debris closed all but one lane for over 10 hours. As my friend and I inched down the road, we talked and talked about work, holidays, friends, other drivers. We called our friends who left a few minutes before us, asking for their location.
An hour later we checked in again. “I have calculated that we have traveled 40 yards per minute in the last hour,” said Mark. So had we.
My favorite observation was one driver next to us. She was crocheting. I think by the time she hit Olympia she must have crocheted a complete sweater. Seven hours’ worth of crocheting could yield quite a garment.
My driving friend remained calm – “what else can we do?” - and soon we were singing with the Christmas carols on the radio. Reminiscing about friends, now gone.
The experience seems on object lesson for the season: keep all in perspective, give in when nothing can be changed, enjoy the moments, chat with friends and be grateful for what is. We were grateful – eventually we arrived home, But for one family, the traffic nightmare will remain. One family lost a loved one. A driver who was simply doing his job, driving a truck, did not arrive home last night and will not be home for Christmas.
Our pets give us unconditional love and attention. As the prayer says, “Please God, help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.” Well, something like that.
Somehow the attention of one's dog (or, I admit for some, one’s cat) can ease stress, calm nerves, and offer the feeling of being loved – no matter how difficult the day or situation. Beau and Theo have just such a relationship.
(S-R archive photo)
…has died. O’Toole, a British actor of stage and screen, was a wildly handsome and just plain wild man who earned eight Academy Award nominations, but never won the award. He won hearts instead. He is best known for his role in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
Of his career, he said it had brought him “together with fine people, good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits.” Just like the rest of humanity – enjoying success and disappointments.
He lived with passion, saying, “If you can't do something willingly and joyfully, then don't do it”.
Perfect advice for anyone.
(S-R archive photo: Peter O'Toole 2007)
As the ads for “stuff” continue to inundate us with shopping messages, it is easy to be consumed with consumerism. However, we can find our own ways to celebrate the holy holidays.
Yesterday we celebrated “Friends-giving.” We gathered with our friends of 30 years (and endless life events) to share food and memories and laughter and our “what’s next?” hopes for the future. We call ourselves “chosen family.” We have buried loved ones, survived disease, celebrated children’s rites of passage and loved each other through it all. We like our Friends-giving celebrations.
Traditions link us to our past – people and places and our very selves. What are your traditions that define the holiday season?
We remember the news of one year ago: 20 children, six staff members in an idyllic elementary school, killed. Our lives have gone on, but those families and their community continue to struggle with the loss of innocence and the loss of precious loved ones.
They have asked for privacy today. Amazingly, the media has granted their request. But the Sandy Hook community has taken steps to honor their loved ones and allow us to support them in their journey. Their website tells the stories of some of their precious loved ones; click on some names, and you may read about the person’s life or the message may say, “Thank you for respecting our privacy.” The site offers links to projects readers can support through financial donations.
Acts of kindness, prayers, advocacy for sensible gun laws as well as improved mental health services offer avenues of support and remembrance today. And knowing we all remain vulnerable to leaving each other too soon reminds us to tell our loved ones how much we love them – because you just never know.
(S-R archive photo)
When I heard the news that Tom Royce, SJ, had left his Earthly journey, now welcomed into heaven, I grabbed my GU-in-Florence sweatshirt and put it on. The logo rests over my heart. Seems perfect.
Tom Royce, SJ, taught philosophy at GU my freshman year. “Now, remember, you cannot go from a particular to a universal, but you can go from a universal to a particular. Here’s an example…” The man could get so excited about logic. His students could not help but feel inspired by his academic enthusiasm.
But the real fun came in 1975-1976 when Tom Royce shared the year with our GU-in-Florence class. He soon became known as Padre Pastry – not sure if he coined the moniker or we did. We shared pastry and travel and Italian adventures and woes (ours). Sometimes we went to class. With 92 college students dumped into Europe for a school year, he had lots of entertainment! I later wondered if he laughed or winced each night as he reviewed our daily antics.
On opening tour, we walked the red-light district of Amsterdam with our mouths and eyes wide open. Tom must have enjoyed watching our innocent reactions as we saw prostitutes “advertising” themselves in windows, as naturally as Santa in Macy’s Christmas window. But it was through the routine days of the school year that we met the kind man, Tom Royce. He listened to our drama, our dreams and our challenges. He loved spending time with us, but never tried to be one of us. We shared gelato at Vivoli’s and rode trains to Cervina. He celebrated Mass in the Soviet Union in quiet secret. He taught Documents of Vatican II with lessons I recall: No matter the doctrine, a well-informed conscience wins out – and pastoral compassion. He lived his message. Tom witnessed some wild behavior among our crowd, but I never heard him express shock or judgment. He simply stood by, available to listen, empathize, laugh, guide or comfort. We didn’t know how wonderful he was – so self-absorbed we were that year.
In later years, I heard stories of his compassion as a parish priest: traveling over the Cascade Mountains to Seattle Children’s Hospital where a critically ill child struggled to live. He rode the buses around Portland to his destinations – his eyesight limited long ago. He was unstoppable in his ministry to be the presence of Christ in a hurting world. He lived the joy he preached and therefore, was deeply loved.
May God welcome Tom into the loving light of joy and celebration – a feast of eternal friendship. Our hearts carry memories of a selfless man who shared his gentle humor, deep faith, kindness and passion for life. We send him forth with grateful hearts: arrivederci per ora; grazie di tutto.
(S-R archive photo)
We have heard of the dangerous effects of drugs – including tobacco – on an unborn child. According to research funded by the National Institutes of Health, use of those substances during pregnancy can double or triple the chances of that child being “stillborn.” Health officials define stillbirth as a fetus who dies at or later than 20 weeks in the womb.
Alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription pain killers, tobacco and now - sort of legalized - marijuana (still federally illegal) possess threats to our lives as adults. Seems only logical the threat to an unborn child would be even greater.
(S-R archive photo)
A colleague - L. Patrick Carroll - is home recovering from a hip replacement; he is a wonderful writer and shares the following poem. Enjoy his lovely words.
The Christmas Feast
I keep getting “fixed”;
Stuff wears out or breaks.
Hopes, dreams, ideals…
Recently a second hip replaced,
Earlier in life a nose, a jaw,
My whole left side paralyzed.
Figuratively and literally,
Lives and loves too often lost;
And not just me:
“Things fall apart…”
Bernstein’s Mass memorialized:
“How easily things get broken.”
Our world, nation, selves,
Valleys must be smoothed,
Swords to plowshares molded,
Darkness turned to light.
The Word becoming flesh
Companion God, by choice,
Sharing our tears, our tent,
To fix it, mold it,
Mend it, make it whole,
Not magically “in one fell swoop,”
But offering a healing,
All-repairing path —
Unselfish love —
That we can trod, however haltingly,
As Jesus did,
Arriving at our feast
With all its “fixings.”
(S-R archive photo courtesy of NASA)
Doctors are reporting stunning success in the ongoing fight against cancer. Gene therapy holds tremendous promise in fighting blood cancers such as leukemia. By changing a patient’s own cells into cells that attack the cancer, patients show no signs of cancer.
Emily Whitehead, 8, of Philipsburg, Penn., is a healthy little girl today. Two years ago, doctors believed her organs would fail within days. She was the first child given gene therapy.
Everyone has been touched by this horrible disease – cancer. Perhaps the cure all along was literally within our reach.
He was charming and fun and kind and smart. Oh, and I found him attractive – tall and confident, a bit reserved. A thinker. The party was filled with many interesting guests. But he and I continued to talk and talk only with each other; I felt a wonderful connection. He kissed me casually on top of my head. I smiled. I spent some time moving among other guests. At the end of the evening he walked over to me and whispered shyly, “You are wonderful, I must see you again. Will you go out with me?” I said, “I would love to go out with you.”
Then, I woke up.
I was 30 years old and single in the dream and so was he. I do not know him in my real life.
What do our dreams mean and where do their characters come from?
(Photo: Tony Wadden)
She always wanted to wear a wedding dress. But Ruth Crawford, 70, was married after WWII in a time when money was tight and men were going off to or returning from war. She married the love of her life on a Friday night in a hotel.
Her husband is gone now, but she still longed to fulfill her lifetime desire to simply wear a traditional wedding dress. Second Wind Dreams fulfilled her wish.
Ruth tried on a few dresses and settled on one, ringing the store’s bell when she found her special dress. Her family secretly waited in the next room and cheered as store clerks escorted her out into the store. While her husband could not admire her beautiful dress, her son took his mom’s arm and spun her around.
Second Wind Dreams seeks to abolish stereotypes and offer seniors a chance to fulfill dreams. Check it out. A wedding dress, pulling back on an airplane’s yoke, directing a symphony, what is your second wind dream and would you be brave enough to fulfill it?
(S-R archive photo: Elizabeth Taylor's first wedding dress)
We have seen the guards and the pomp and ceremony that accompany popes as they travel. But Pope Francis I apparently manages to sidestep that protocol and slip out of his residence and into the community. He moves among the poor, those who move through the streets in the dark of night.
“Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus said.
Francis listened and continues to teach the Church what it means to love through simple, tangible actions.
(S-R archive photo: Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican )
Nelson Mandela has died. His rich and dramatic life, from prisoner to president, seems as though it could have been lived by many people, seems impossible that one man lived, survived and transformed a nation as well as transformed hearts. One remarkable man did; an object lesson for each of us.
He spent 10,052 days in an 8 x 8 prison cell. He emerged with a forgiving heart, saying that if one hates his captors after prison, they still have him imprisoned.
The world remembers his legacy. May we live his life's lessons into our future as our best memorial to him.
(S-R archive photo: In this May 10, 1994 file photo, Nelson Mandela takes the oath of office in Pretoria, South Africa, to become the country's first black president. )
The St. Paul-Minneapolis Catholic Archdiocese released the names, work history and current status (dead, living, retired, residence) of priests credibly accused of sexual crimes against trusting believers: children.
As a child, I attended one of the parishes listed: St. Richard Parish. However, I was not there when the criminal priests were. A few priests listed came from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, where I attended its School of Theology - graduate school - in the early 1980s. I do not recall the men named.
The adults I know who have suffered from this type of violent crime committed against them have worked hard to heal. I cannot fathom their journey. And I remain in awe of the survivors who stood up, spoke out, told their stories, hired lawyers, showed up in court to relive their horror and followed the difficult path toward recovery. May their courage protect others. And when a child tells their truth, responsible adults must listen, and take immediate action to protect the child and prosecute the criminal. Always. Every time.
Newsweek will return to print after it printed its last copy in December 2012. For many, that news is comforting. While the convenience of e-readers appeals to many, the feel and tactile pleasure of words in print cannot be replaced. The resurrected format will publish originally reported stories. Newsweek will be available by subscription only.
I have returned after a holiday visit to my hometown: Minneapolis. Yes, it is cold there. No matter, going home always brings warmth. With every visit I notice the changes –the community has grown up and is not as it was in my childhood memories. But I still expect to run into people as they were in 1973. Didn’t happen.
I did notice that many stores – grocery and many at the mall – employee older workers. As in retired folks. Left me wondering: are these employees long-time employees or is it an established practice in the Midwest to look beyond the “gray ceiling” and employee those with longtime work experience?
(S-R archive photo: A plane takes off from Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis.)
by Harriet Maxwell Converse
Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer
“We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on. We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands. We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o. We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion.
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit's music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.”
What are your words of thanksgiving?
(S-R archive photo)
I remember when the stores closed on Sunday (I was a child, yes), while a few drug stores and gas stations remained open “for an emergency,” my parents said. No emergency ever made its way into our family on Sunday.
And now…retailers are whining over anticipated lost profits because our national day of Thanksgiving is a bit tardy this year. So, come all ye consumers and spend, spend spend.
Protest, says Ellen Galinsky, co-founder and president of Families and Work Institute: stay home. Vote with your slippered feet and full belly and fireplace flickering light upon the faces you love. Time together offers a better return on one’s investment in relationships, serving a menu of love, worthy of one’s undivided attention.
(S-R archive photo)
Each Sunday my husband and I watch the Amazing Race: a reality show with pairs of people who “race” in various places around the world completing tasks. The last team most weeks is eliminated from the competition. At the end, the winner from the final three teams wins one million dollars. Nice.
Sure, I’d eat weird food, repel off the side of a tall building, and work hard to bridge cultural challenges as part of the Race. But when we watch, sometimes we comment: “Oh, we could have done that 30 years ago, but now…umm. Hmmm.”
Wisdom from our armchair observations: always read the clue to the end and follow it, don’t try to second guess the outcome. Some contestants had to repeat or lost a leg of the race because they took a cab, when instructed to walk. The tasks using brute strength (gross motor skills) seem easier than ones appearing easy: arrange 12 kinds of fruit on a plate, in order, various amounts, serve the customers. No, thanks, too much room for error. I’ll build the crab pot. And sometimes, really nice people win.
But why not an Amazing Race for aging Boomers who are skilled with more brains and experience than brute strength? No cab drivers, instead find your way in a foreign city by yourselves, communicate with strangers and decode the clues to the next location. Offer tasks requiring deductive reasoning – not marathon-running lungs.
While waiting for a more age-appropriate version of the Race, we will continue to view the competitive tasks in faraway places. Grateful we have made it to our station in life – through amazing grace.
(S-R archive photo: Executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who won an Emmy for outstanding reality-competition program for his work on “The Amazing Race,” May 2005.)
Most Americans over the age of 55 remember the news from 50 years ago: President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas. I was sitting in Miss Martinson’s third grade classroom. She was wearing a navy blue dress with pearls. Teachers were summoned to the principal’s office and when Miss Martinson returned, she said, “Children, our president has been shot.” No one spoke and then someone wheeled in a black and white television on a big stand. We watched the news until we left for home.
My parents had the television on and watched it during dinner. My dad was in charge of the school book sale and had to return to school that night. I went with him. In the following days, I recall the somber environment at home and watching the procession of the casket and soldiers and the clip-clop sound of horses’ feet on pavement. Caroline Kennedy was near my age. I felt sad her dad was killed. I wondered what it would feel like to lose my dad. I saw my dad cry as we watched a nation mourn and grieve. My dad never cried in front of his daughters.
Someone called my Uncle Larry and said, “I hope you choke on your turkey!” My uncle’s last name was Oswald – but he lived in Duluth. I asked my dad why someone would think my uncle killed the president. “Stupidity,” he said.
The assassination of President Kennedy remains in the memories of my generation. We all know where we were, how we heard, what we felt. And 50 years later, I still have the same reaction: such deep, profound sadness for Caroline Kennedy.
Where were you?
(S-R archive photo: This undated file photo shows the Kennedy brothers, John F. Kennedy, left, Robert Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy, right, in Hyannis Port, Mass. )