November 30, 2008

“A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. — Isaiah 40: 2-5

We’ve turned a new corner on the Church Year – it’s goodbye to the green of Pentecost (which this year seemed to last forever, given the early date of Easter), and hello to the purple of Advent. My prayer table is decked out in deep purple and the candles I have been using are being allowed to burn down so I can start fresh new ones in my first Matins of the year Sunday morning.

You could tell a new liturgical season was at hand at Mass earlier today – everything was a bit off-kilter as the priest, the readers, and the band all seemed to struggle with the new material they were dealing with given the new church season. I’m glad this wasn’t the Saturday Tracey was going to attend Mass with me – she would have wondered what the heck was wrong!

I love everything about Advent. To me, Advent is not just about expectation – in my case, wanting to clean out my own spiritual house in preparation for welcoming the Christ child anew into my heart four weeks hence – but also about hope. This is not an insignificant part of the Advent season. As Fr. Tim mentioned in his homily today, we can all take great comfort in the fact that, rather than giving humankind up for lost and leaving us to our own devices and ultimate destruction, God saw just enough in the human soul and spirit that warranted His sending a part of Himself to redeem humankind and all creation through Jesus the Christ. And it is in this holy season that we need to contemplate how God is calling each and every one of us to live up to our part of that bargain.

An Advent question: How do we show ourselves to be truly children of the light, as children of God? How we do sweep aside the cobwebs of our inner spiritual selves, the better to welcome Christ into our hearts and lives this Christmas? Do we destroy innocent others, as extremists have done in Mumbai, or as rabid shoppers have done in New York? Or do quiet ourselves and look inward – and then outward – at ways in which we can somehow become greater than ourselves? How do we learn to give of ourselves when everything in this information-saturated day and age we live in lures ourselves into thinking we are the masters of our own destiny, the center of our own universes?

Surely God is calling each and everyone of us to be more than that – for some in more subtle ways, for others He is calling us to greater things.

I don’t know where I fall into this equation, in all honesty. I’m just grateful that this past Church Year has brought me back to regular attendance at church and the resumption of my daily offices for the first time in more than eight years. I don’t feel as if I’m 100% “there” yet, but I feel more like the person God has called me to be than anytime in more than a decade, and for now I’m just happy to simply attend Saturday Mass at St. Anne Catholic Church and learn once more the blessings and challenges of committing one’s self to a particular parish family. I do know one thing: at this time last year, I could never have imagined myself writing these words. Whether or not it is through St. Anne’s I finally become Roman Catholic remains to be seen, but I can’t see myself ever being a part of an Episcopal or Anglican community ever again.

The following is an excerpt from a lovely website for Advent, I hope you’ll check it out:

————————————————————————

The first day the wreath is in the home, the leader may say:

As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs–light and green branches–
and remember God’s promise to our world:
Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.
Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those who lived in a land as dark as death
a light has dawned.
You have increased their joy
and given them gladness;
They rejoice in your presence
as those who rejoice at harvest,
as warriors exult when dividing spoil.”
— Is. 9:1-2

Then all pray:

O God,
rejoicing,
we remember the promise of your Son.
As the light from this candle,
may the bless of Christ come upon us,
brightening our way
and guiding us by his truth.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of our world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Then the first candle is lighted.

————————————————————————

A blessed Advent season to everyone. May we all find our hearts and minds enkindled to welcome the Light of Christ into our hearts as these final darkening days of a year now old and embittered unwinds before us. Surely there lie better days ahead.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comments (2)
November 27, 2008

If you watch and listen to all the gloom-and-doomers on the cable networks you would think the majority of this country is out of work, walking the streets like zombies in search of food, and sleeping under highway overpasses. I don’t doubt for a moment that things overall are not as prosperous as they may have been a year ago for a lot of people and that there is a lot of economic uncertainty in the future; I’m sure Tracey and I are not the only ones whose company letters wishing employees the sentiments of the season also include ominous language about further belt-tightening and cost-cutting in the coming year.

In this house, all we can do is look at ourselves and the things around us. And when we do, it’s near impossible to not see how blessed we are – the fact that we are both in good health, we have all our physical faculties and senses, a roof over our heads, food on the table, clean water to drink, a circle of family and friends we hold dear and are dear to us, are gainfully employed, and living in a country where there is no civil strife or war, and wwhere supermarkets are stocked with every kind of food imaginable.

In our support of Project Harambee we recently donated $100 for a dozen chickens that will provide eggs and food to communities in those parts of Africa where AIDS has decimated the population – places where in addition to the economic and social devastation caused by that epidemic you can also be killed simply for being a Christian and where young girls who have their first period have to stay out of school for weeks.

If you’ve recently lost your job, or discovered you have cancer, or face the upcoming holiday season without a loved one for the first time in years, things can look pretty bleak. But putting our faith and trust in a God Who is almighty and everlasting in His love, grace, and mercy, we can see just how our struggles often pale against those faced by millions upon millions of others in the world around us. This holiday season, I hope we can all try and keep things in a little perspective and put the “giving” back in Thanksgiving for all the ways in which God has been good to us here in the good ol’ USA so we can better the lives of others.

A blessed and happy Thanksgiving from all the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:06 | Comments (0)
November 23, 2008

Apologies for the sporadic posts – right now work is making it difficult to not only find the time to blog, but be creative. The fourteen-hour days have been piling up one on top of another, and when you’re doing that there’s not just little time to blog, but to even look outside your foxhole to see what might be going on around you.

There I was, enjoying a glass of Pinot Grigio at the pizza joint while waiting for my double order of hot wings and a salmon special when Kevin, another Friday regular who’s usually there by the time I usually arrive, started grilling me about what I thought about Barack Obama’s early cabinet choices. Now Kevin’s a nice guy, but he’s also a far-left leaning progressive who, oh by the way, works for the government (surprise!!), and he’s been chirping like a canary since The Messiah was elected to President of All That Is And Will Be.

So when he asked me about Obama’s cabinet choices, all I could do was rub my eyes and stifle a yawn while saying, “oh, what did he end up choosing for the White House kitchen, pine or oak?” – upon which Kevin thinks that’s a howl and calls me a silly goose, or something to that effect. But in reality, I didn’t even know Obama was even choosing cabinet positions. Not that I would care much, my my political disconnectedness these days is frightening. Oh I heard something on the radio about Hillary Clinton being considered for Secretary of State, but that was only in passing and I wasn’t sure it wasn’t anything more than someone else’s wishful hooey.

As my old Newfie friend John Pippy used to say, it’s all so tragic. I couldn’t tell you what was going on – if anything – in the golf world if I tried. Actually, not just the golf world, the world. Last week at Mass they included in the prayers the people of California, and I wondered whether the Big One had finally dropped it into the sea; I didn’t even know there were wildfires going on. All my Goodboys friends must think I’ve finally followed through on my threat to leave everything behind and become a desert monastic ascetic. All my favorite political blogs – I’ll admit, I haven’t looked at them since the week before the election. (Oh sure, I’ll give the Drudge Report the briefest glance each morning, but that’s just to make sure the world hasn’t ended, because if it had I’m sure Drudge would tell me, and then I wouldn’t have to spend the better part of the next twelve hours sending work to India.) Heck, last month I sent out three bills late – something I could never even imagine doing – but there’s just no time to balance the check book and send out bills. Besides, I figure if they shut off my electricity or water that will be sufficient excuse not to have to feed the global economy for a day or two.

It’s not much of a life, I’ll tell you. I do get to go out to the market one day a week, and I do take Saturdays off for good behavior, but that’s just to sleep in until near noon and spend the rest of the day taking stock of the house and its creatures that dwell therein. If it weren’t for forcing myself to take time out for my morning Matins and evening Compline, and preparing dinner and a cocktail or two for Tracey at night, I’d just be swallowed up by the laptop and India and my sense of non-being would be complete. Mind you, I’m not complaining – I’m a heck of a lot better off than a lot of people – it’s just, well, you know. I always tried to pride myself in knowing a little bit of everything that was going on so I could always make intelligent conversation with people and flirt with pizza joint waitresses, but those days seem like ages ago.

Hopefully this won’t last forever, but for right now, like Bill Belichick is wont to say, it is what it is. Be blogging you soon. I hope.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:29 | Comments (3)
November 19, 2008

* Count me as one that thinks Hillary Clinton will make a good Secretary of State. I mean, as good a SoS as a Brack Obama administration can be expected to appoint. She might be good.

* I’m looking out over my tranquil pool and patio tonight with our flowers in bloom and find it hard to believe that somewhere on earth – like in my co-worker Kim’s Ohio backyard – there’s already a foot of snow, with snow showers expected throughout the weekend.

* The vibraphone is one of my all-time favorite instruments. Whenever I hear one, my ability to focus on anything else is, how you say, impaired.

* …and the ukelele is not far behind in that regard.

* John Blakeley of the surf band The Sandals is a very underrated guitarist.

* The Coco Crisp trade today tells me the Red Sox are gonna shop reliever Manny Delcarmen and prospect Michael Bowden to the Texas Rangers for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

* The Journey Home on EWTN, a show that interviews former Catholics, Protestants, and formerly non-churched people who have returned or converted to Roman Catholicism is a great program. I see something of myself in every person they interview.

* Jerome Pascua, where are you, dude?

* Ditto Septuagenarian Sarah. We miss you, heck, all the Goodboys miss you!

* George Harrison’s “Living In The Material World” is an underrated album.

* As is The Ventures’ “Surfin’ To Baja”

* Mark my words – neither Michelle Wie or John Daly will ever win another professional golf tournament. What a combined colossal waste of talent.

* Didn’t I tell you that an Obama election would drive the Dow down towards 7000? But then again, no one listens to The Great White Shank. “The One” better be “The Savior”, or he’ll be run outta town on the rails.

* Enough of all this Pentecost season green, this guy is ready for some Advent purple!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:41 | Comment (1)
November 18, 2008

It must have been a dream, as the weather was warm, puffy white clouds dotted the sky above, and a soft breeze stirred the scrub pines nearby. It was then I realized I was on a golf course, it was summer, and I was with the Goodboys. But these weren’t “The” Goodboys, but people who have nothing to do with the Goodboys but had somehow become Goodboys in my dream, if you know what I mean. After all, in dreams peoples and places tend to get kinda jumbled up.

What I remember was that I was on the Port Course at The Captains Golf Course in Brewster, Mass – home of the famous Goodboys Invitational annual golf tournament. I don’t think I was on the 8th hole, a mammoth 573-yard par 5 that has been my ruin ever since I first stepped forth onto the course; actually, I don’t know where I was – but somehow that 8th hole was in my head and at the center of my dream.

Ed. note: Sure this was a dream, but it easily could have been called a nightmare in the golf sense of the word. What has always made this particular hole so difficult for me is the challenge of accuracy and distance control – something that, when your golf nickname is The Great White Shank, you obviously don’t bring in spades. Assuming, of course, you can hit a decent drive off the tee (something I rarely do anyways), your second shot becomes kind of critical because at some point out there, the fairway starts sloping harshly downward towards a pond that lies at the bottom of the hill. If you go too far, you’re hitting on a downslope to an elevated green surrounded by woods on the back and left, so there’s precious little room for error.

Me, my hole usually goes something like this: my first shot is short off the tee or in rough or trees to the left or right, so I play out to the center of the fairway, but now I have to be concerned about not going too far so as to avoid hitting my next shot on that downslope, so I try to baby it and usually fluff it, whereby I now have to baby my fourth shot to get in a range I’m comfortable with, but of course I either hit it too far or too short meaning I’m now hitting my fifth on that freakin’ downslope or still way too far back to be comfortable so I either hit it in the pond or squirrel it off to the side or hit it too far into the woods, so now I’m either lying six or seven and have to play up to that elevated green but by then it’s like, “screw it”, it’s just as easy to take my double par (a Goodboys rule), save my strength, and have a sip of beer and focus on the next hole where I can go back to having at least a shot at having a decent hole, see you next year you freakin’ stupid hole I hate your freakin’ guts.

Or something like that.

So there I was with the Goodboys, but they weren’t the Goodboys I knew. Ron “Cubby” Myerow was there, as was my departed friend The Doc, but so was Nolita, the bartender at the pizza joint we get takeout from on Fridays (not only does Nolita not play golf, but why she was a Goodboys is anyone’s guess), and none other than Todd Palin, of all people, except I don’t think he looked like Todd Palin, but again, in dreams things get all jumbled. And no, I don’t remember seeing Sarah there with him. The strange thing was, although this was a golf dream, I wasn’t playing golf. Actually, I don’t remember what I was doing.

If this were truly a golf dream, me and Todd would be standing there surrounded by cute beer-cart girls and tossing back a brewskie when suddenly the heavens would open and the voice of David Leadbetter would read that day’s Gospel lesson…

“A reading from The Captain Golf Course’s website, front nine, 8th hole:

“A blast from the past from the original Captains. This par five will test your entire game from letting it go off the tee, picking the right spot for your second shot and the approach into a green guarded by a pond.”

“Here endeth today’s lesson. May the golf gods have mercy on your pathetic souls.”

“Don’t just stand there. Toss me a cold one, willya?”

…and suddenly everything would make sense and David would proceed to tell me the secret to playing the 8th hole on the Port Course at The Captains Golf Course in Brewster Massachusetts on the weekend of the Goodboys Invitational Golf Tournament with all my Goodboys friends.

Which, actually, in a way, was what happened. I awoke from my sleep and lie there, the whole weirdness of the dream washing over me and stuck in my head not unlike that Billy Mays “Awesome Auger” infomercial. Tracey was sound asleep beside me. In her cage next to the bed, Peanut (a.k.a., “The Little Bitch” was up to no good as usual, gnawing on her cage incessantly.

My first thought was to take that rabbit out for a swim in the pool, so tantalizingly close by – if you know what I mean.

But all of a sudden, it occurred to me that I had been playing that 8th hole at the Port Course wrong all these years. And I had me a revelation. You see, as a 30-handicap I long ago gave up the idea of shooting at pins like some half-assed Lee Trevino, satisfying myself with simply trying to play bogey golf – y’know, play the par 3s like par 4s, the par 4s like par 5s, etc. And while it’s not a perfect system, I have found my overall course management and decision-making improved and my scores settling into the 100-108 range more often than not.

And I awoke to realize the best way to approach the Port Course 8th hole was to play it like a par 6. First I fearlessly bang my drive out to the middle of the fairway. Then, caring not what happens to my next shot, I take out my 5-wood and hit it as far as I can, expecting pretty much that it’ll end up lost somewhere around the pond. Then, lying three, I pull out a short iron and bang it into the hill upon which the elevated green sits. I chip on, two putts, and at worst I’m double bogey. If I make a good chip or a good putt, I bogey the hole, and all I’m out is one more lost golf ball – something I’ve never cared about anyways.

It was all so clear to me. My golf dream really was a golf lesson of sorts. Now I can’t wait for next July and a chance to put my plan into effect. And if it works, I have a letter to Todd Palin I need to write. He’ll never believe it it, but maybe I’ll even get an invite to come up and meet Sarah.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:14 | Comments (4)
November 15, 2008

Tonight was the night we burned all our junk mail we have received over the past year. I tossed a nice log into the chiminea, got it burning nice and fragrant, and then proceeded to fire up every credit card offer, bill receipt, and junk mail for the past year, and watch it go up in smoke to the tune of surf music. It took two Sam Adams – a lovel Brown Ale and a Boston Lager – to go through the blue laundry basket we use as a junk mail repository to burn the entire contents.

As I tossed each item into the fire, I’d give each a quick glance – the obligatory Capitol One, Chase, and Bank of America credit card offers (I’m thinking Capitol One alone must have razed an entire Brazilian rain forest with all the offers they send out) alone probably made up 1/3 of all the crap I burned. But what I found interesting was some paid bill references from earlier last year that I had completely forgot about; I realize now it wasn’t just nine credit cards that comprised the 65K+ debt we once had in credit cards alone, but twelve – I had completely forgotten about the Dell, Victoria’s Secret, and Firestone cards we once owed money on. The fact that we’re down to less than $12K on our credit cards makes me realize just how hard a grind this year has been.

And just how far we still have to go.

I also found in this pile a whole bunch of receipts left over from some business trips Tracey had taken while she was employed at the University of Louisville – she obviously had cleaned out a file drawer sometime this year. How strange it was to see the memories of those days with our address at 8707-E Big Tree Circle in Louisville come back to me; it really seems like a lifetime ago. The world was a very diffrerent place indeed back in 2000! I thought back to our Louisville apartment, and all the rabbits, cats, and birds we jammed into that 1,100 sq. foot two bath, two bedroom apartment! There was Rascal and Sparkle our cats (now gone), Ferd and Bird (our parakeeets, also gone), and Marble and Pepper (gone also), proud parents of Marble Junior (still with us), Marble Junior Junior (gone), and Li’l Pepper, Mocha, Half N’ Half, Bandit, and Marshmallow (probably gone). To see those years dissipate in flame and smoke in just seconds, well, let’s just say it goes to show just how little time means in the grand scheme of things.

But dissipate they all did. And now we have an empty blue basket, waiting for the next set of credit card offers to come along. To which we’ll just say no.

I wonder what the world will look like a year from now on the next burn night.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:19 | Comments (4)
November 14, 2008

We lit our first fire tonight in the chiminea. That big silvery moon of the past two nights is ready to make another appearance, and soon the patio will be all silvery white, as if covered by a light dusting of snow. I have a lovely Johnny Walker Red (one ice cube) in my hands, and a nice moisturizing soak in the tub just ahead of me. What I’m really in the mood for is a quiet walk in the woods, except for one thing…

There are no woods within two hours of here.

Perhaps when I return East in a few weeks a visit to the Whiffle Tree Country Store in Billerica will be in order. Nice woods, nice shop, a great place to get in the holiday spirit.

For some strange reason, I’m really looking forward to the Christmas season this year. Not because of any particular celebration in mind – this promises to be a lean Christmas indeed, and I doubt we’ll be the only ones observing it in such an austere fashion. Maybe it’s just the strange sense of foreboding I have that we (and I’m not exactly sure who that “we” is) may not be in this same cozy situation next year. But I’m really in the mood to get a phony tree at Lowe’s, hang some of our old ornaments on it, and arrange our Nativity set underneath it as a way of showing my gratitude to God for bringing us this far and helping to prepare our hearts for the feast of Christmas.

Aah but all that’s still weeks away! For now, here’s a lovely November poem I found at this cool poetry website. I hope you like it:

“Leaves”

How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.
- Elsie N. Brady

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is just two weeks away. Not a great time to be a turkey, I’ll tell you! :-)

A happy birthday to my brother Dave. He may be to the right of Attila the Hun, but he’s still an OK dude.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:01 | Comment (1)
November 13, 2008

That is one bright shiney full moon out there tonight. With the high clouds it positively shimmers in the night sky. Tonight we’ve got the surf music on and the night feels warmer than it was last night.

I look at the moon and can’t help but wonder what kind of world we live in – I mean, I know (or at least hope) the vast majority of people are just out there working their a$$es off each and every day trying to make ends meet and make something of themselves, but then you read stories like this and you can’t help but shake your head:

* Some American Idol fan obsessed with American Idol’s Paul Abdul suffering from “extreme mental illness” offs herself with a drug overdose near Abdul’s house. She had already tried to kill herself unsuccessfully in the same location one time before.

* An overwrought fan of “The Daily Show” blogs (in her own words) how “I am owed,” “robbed of an experience,” and “emotionally empty” simply because she didn’t make the cut for being an audience member at her favorite television show.

* A radical gay rights group infiltrates and then disrupts a church service in Delta Township, Michigan by throwing fliers at churchgoers and shouting slogans such as “It’s OK to be gay,” and “Jesus was a homo.”

* A Korean woman addicted to plastic surgery is left unrecognizable after her obsession led her to inject cooking oil into her face.

You read things like this and wonder what the heck is wrong with people. I mean, these are folks who obviously have NO life – I think that goes without saying, but I can’t help wonder what kind of cloth these people were cut from. What sense of self-worthlessness is involved here? What the &^%$! were/are they thinking? What kind of upbringing did they have? You look at everything going on in the world and there just seems to be a bit of an issue with, well… perspective, don’t you think?

Sigh.

But don’t let this get you down. Crank this surf tune up (courtesy of Los Straightjackets) and dance around the room! And that’s an order!

—–

Thought for the day: Not for nothing, but did you know that on the very day Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was formally pronounced President-Elect of the United States, the Illinois State Lottery Pick 3 numbers came out 666. Coincidence, right?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (4)
November 12, 2008

A long day at work feeding work to India. Whenever I work days like this I feel as if all I’m really doing is sawing the tree branch I just happen to be sitting on. Or, holding the tail of a tiger real tight, afraid to let go because then I’ll be eaten. But what can you do? That’s the way things go. I don’t know if I’m actively contributing to my own professional obsolesence or not, but I do know these are very long days.

A lovely night tonight with a real chill in the air. The temp is going down to 50, and for the first time the smell of burning wood is in the air. Lovely. I walk out onto the patio and it glistens bright silver in the light of the full moon. I dip my toes in the water, and the moon is so bright I’m casting long spooky shadows, and I can even read the pool thermometer. It’s 52 degrees, so I don’t think they’ll be swimming any time soon, but I like the feel of the cool water on my toes. I swish my feet back and forth and watch glistening green diamonds of water ripple across the pool. memories of summer, realities of fall. It feels almost magical.

I found out from my friend Jack today that he has The Doc’s ashes and plans to scatter them in a big open field in Strong, Maine when he travels up there to spend Thanksgiving with friends. I think the Doc would have liked that – he always did prefer the back roads and rural areas of northern New England to anywhere else.

If I had my choice (and I doubt I will), when my time comes I’d like to have Tracey take my ashes down to the Mississippi River in Gramercy, Louisiana and scatter them there. Why Gramercy? I dunno, it’s a kind of out of the way place I found one day while searching for the River in a variety of places. Gramercy, like untold other towns along the river, has a street with small houses that leads to the levee, then up over the levee, and there’s the River.

The riverbank in Gramercy is hardly a sightseeing feast for the senses; rather, it’s hardscrabble and unremarkable, strewn with all kinds of river debris and trash that time forgot paying no mind as the River’s silty brown water lapped easily against the shore. The afternoon was mercilessly hot, but what was very cool was to stand there and watch a large container ship glide silently past even though it seemed only 30-50 yards away. I waved to some guy way up on top; he didn’t wave back. But that was OK – I loved that moment in time, and I can think of far worse places to have my earthly remains freed.

A happy Veterans Day to all those who have served our country and defended its freedoms in both time of war and peace. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air has a great YouTube tribute.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:10 | Comments (2)
November 9, 2008

If there’s any thing the events of the past few weeks have taught me is that nothing is permanent. Change is the essence of life, and it’s only when you think you have it all figured out for the 1,530,231st time that come to realize for the 1,530,231st time you don’t. This morning during my morning office in the prayer grove it occured to me that the only constants in life are change and God’s own Providence, Love, and Mercy. All too often we get caught up in all the changes and chances of our daily lives, forgetting all too often just how fortunate we are to simply have life and to live life when so many around us are just trying to make it through another day.

It occurred to me that no two things in life are given the same chance at survival – not two people, two trees, two rabbits, two blades of grass, two sea creatures, two clouds, two drops of rain, two bougainvillea, two anything. I never bought the idea that God only gives people as much as they can handle: actually, I always that to be kind of a warped understanding of a supposed loving God’s sense of inequality. In my mind, it is this very lack of equality that makes creation and life itself sacred. Everything has its own place in the world – even misfortune, suffering, and death. And even amidst those things we try as hard as we can to avoid come opportunities to learn, be humble, and lean on and draw closer to the Creator Who knows us, loves us and cares for us more than we could ever know. People will let you down every time. God never will.

While attending Mass yesterday I couldn’t help but look around at the hundreds of people there around me. Young, old, white, Hispanic, Asians, African-Americans, couples, families, individuals. The guy who zoomed past me and was weaving in and out of traffic, driving like a total whacko – yes, even “Mr. Red Light Runner” in his fashionable jet-black Monte Carlo wearing the baby blue designer shades was there. And I couldn’t help but wonder why. I mean, I know (or at least assume I know) why they were there, but I couldn’t help but wonder what their own life stories were, what niche or place in their lives they sought or believed God would fill through His Divine Grace by attending Mass? So many people, so many stories, one Absolute Truth. I thought it was all pretty cool. (Well, all except the the Psalms which the band played with almost a disco beat…)

And it was then I understood once again, in the lifting up of the Sacraments and recitation of that familar, divine Liturgy of the Mass the eternal changelessness of God made manifest and revealed in our midst. The same God Who loved us so much He would die for us. There it was, as Nancie Carmichael writes, the comforting presence of God. God the One Great Constant.

All these thoughts were with me this morning. And then I thought how good it was that the emotional turmoil of the last few weeks was a good thing. Not being far from a horse or mule without understanding (Ps. 32:9), I needed a good slap upside the head, for it made me realize just how fortunate I was to be alive, fed, clothed, employed, sheltered, and healthy. It reminded me just how important it was to get my spiritual house swept clean and organized once again to prepare myself for lovely, purple Advent, the start of new Church Year, the preparation time for welcoming the Christ Child into my heart once again. The end of yet another year, the promise of the start of a new one looming.

2008 has been a long hard struggle. But in the struggle is to realize just how alive one is, for better or for worse. My grandfather would say that any day you wake up on the green side of the grass was a good day all by itself. Tonight I take his words to heart and say a prayer of thanks for simply being able to be a part of it all, this thing called life.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:49 | Comments (2)

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