Deo gratias

FranPaulaMtRobertsMay2019

That’s Paula on the right and me on the left! A very blessed meeting of two longtime online friends!

Alaska, a destination long in my horizon, is now in my rear view mirror. And in that mirror the words roll over in my heart, over and over… Deo gratias. Thanks be to God.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for this journey. For those of you who sent prayer requests to me, be assured how dearly you were held in prayer, in the glory of this spectacular place. I only visited a tiny portion of this enormous state, but what a magnificent tiny portion it was.

First and foremost were the people I met. If heaven has a receiving line, I believe that I had a preview of it in Alaska! Invited there by a ministry of the Diocese of Juneau, my first encounter was with longtime social media friend, Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher.

It was Paula that brought my name up with her ministry as they prepared for a retreat, and Deo gratias, I was selected by this ministry to walk with them for a weekend. In any case, I was so happy to meet this longtime online friend for the first time. The nature of welcome that I received from Paula and others came from a deep well of hospitality that was evident in every step of my Alaskan journey. Through the deep generosity of one of the retreatants, miles were donated to get me to Juneau, a gift I will never forget – and never stop being thankful for. Speaking of gratitude – I offer it to and for my friends in NJ who took exception care of me at both ends of the journey. Thank you.

img_6671-1

Labyrinth at the National Shrine of Saint Therese

The retreat seemed to go well – as I like to say, ask those who attended! Our setting was the National Shrine of St. Thérèse, a place so remarkable that it defies words. If you ever get the chance to go there, do not hesitate! The glory of God was on full display at this remarkable place. However, it was each and every one of the women on retreat that made the journey more special. May they all be blessed – I thank God for all of them and for their welcome to me. Here are a few photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As for the rest of my trip – I met so many people, I saw so much of God’s glory.  There will be so much more to tell, but in due time. I’m still readjusting time wise, getting laundry done, and reorienting myself to being home. More to follow. In the meantime, thank you so much! Be assured of my prayers. And no matter where you go or what you do – remember to thank God always, Deo gratias.

Advertisements

North to Alaska

TJJO_Downtown_Juneau_4_2015_868ae45f-1b73-4c52-9c4f-dbea12170952This week I will head north to Alaska! No, I have never been there, and honestly – I never imagined that I would go there. My spouse has little interest in it, and at our age and with our budget, trips have to be something we both want to invest in when we take them.

It was however a delightful surprise to be asked if I would be Continue reading

May his memory be a blessing

giphy

Chris as motivational speaker Matt Foley, always a funny bit. 

Actor and comedian Chris Farley died in December of 1997.  He was so talented, and so very funny.  This past Saturday his old friend Adam Sandler was the host of Saturday Night Live, and he sang a song honoring and remembering Chris. It was deeply touching to me, and I certainly had a good little cry while watching – along with some laughter.

I have a sharp memory of Chris Farley, and it is not from SNL or any of his movies. One day, not so long before he died, I saw Chris Farley in a place that was unexpected – at least from my point of view. At that time I worked in New York City and often stopped by St Patrick’s Cathedral to light a candle and say a quick prayer.

That particular day I went to Continue reading

Kol hakavod

35QI6DTJZUI6TO7HDR4Y7OAFGY

Flowers and signs sit at a memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue on April 28 in Poway, Calif. (Denis Poroy/AP)

UPDATE: Apparently there was a candle light vigil at Agudat Achim in Schenectady last night. I wish I could have been there.

al-vigil_jpg

Vigil at Agudat Achim, Schenectady

As we probably know, there was yet another act of violence in a house of worship. This time at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California.  This is a short video from Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the spiritual leader of the community. He was shot and has lost a finger. His courage, bravery, and spiritual generosity is amazing. Also, we must remember Lori Gilbert-Kaye who was killed in the shooting. May her memory be a blessing.

We are all in this together, he says – we are all in this together. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, spiritual but not religious, agnostic, atheist. We are all human and we should be united – not killing one another. Yet – we do a pretty good job of hating and killing one another. Eventually no one will be left.

We should all be asking ourselves what we can do to make the world better and then get on with starting that work. One good way is to get involved in interfaith activities. Here in the Capital District I recommend the Interfaith Community of Schenectady and/or Schenectady Clergy Against Hate. If you live in another part of the country, see what options exist for you. Or begin a movement… our world depends on it.

Kol hakavod is a Hebrew phrase that is used to denote honoring someone, or respecting them for their actions.  And Rabbi Goldstein there is no better phrase to use.  May his actions inspire us all.

Burning down the house

EDITMustBurn (1)This morning a friend sent me an op-ed from the Washington Post. It was written by Marc Thiessen; in full disclosure I am not a fan of his work. Thiessen, a former speech writer for President George W. Bush, wrote a book defending “enhanced interrogation methods.” Most of us would call that torture, and it does not square with Catholic teaching, and Thiessen is Catholic. So that is where I stand on him; needless to say I did not love this column and its distinctly not Catholic gloom and doom outlook.

Today I also read a column by the editor of the Albany Times Union, Rex Smith. It too was about burning churches, but took an entirely different tack. In full disclosure once more, I first met Rex in the Albany airport in 2007, when I walked up to him and introduced myself, much to Mark’s chagrin! And years later I began to post my blog as part of the paper’s blogging platform, something I continue to do. Continue reading

Christos Anesti! Χριστός Ανέστη!

Paschal-Greeting-622x351-04-15-14-1Christos Anesti! Χριστός Ανέστη!
Christ is risen!

Alithos Anesti Aληθώς ανέστη!
Truly, he is risen!

The paragraph below is from author Madeleine L’Engle, now of blessed memory. It reminds me that we conclude our Lenten journey and rise with Christ literally awash in the power of baptism and new life. We cannot be selfish with this, we cannot hoard this, nor feel special or privileged. Christ came for all and that compels a generosity born of Easter joy that hopes for all to rise in new life.

Today as we bask in the glow of resounding Alleluias may we also pray for those who have yet to make the journey,  as well as those who begin it time and again but fall short. That last bit is important to sit with – it is all of us.

Our Easter joy is not a prize, Christ’s rising is not reserved for certain people, but available to one and all who turn to him, no matter how long it takes to get there. May we all find even the most minuscule shards of shattered hope that brings with it the possibility of new life for everyone.

On Easter more than any other day, may we rejoice in the gladness of God’s power and glory, and may we receive it with gratitude, may we share it with generosity, may we live it with joy.

41tUZ9sS1LL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Because Jesus took into himself on the cross every evil and every sin and every brokenness to come upon this planet, there is the fragile but living hope that one day even Satan may once again join the children of God when they gather round their Maker, and that he will beg to be allowed once again to carry the light. For, as Saint Paul wrote to the people of Philippi:

Every knee shall bow in heaven
And on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

From Madeleine L’Engle, A Stone for a Pillow: Journeys with Jacob

 

Foot care area

Deb Santo Domingo

Typical albergue scene. That’s my friend Deb in the albergue with the “FOOT CARE AREA.” Quite naturally, her feet are up!

When on Camino, normal – no, typical behaviors shift. Normal implies they must be the right thing to do; typical indicates what is generally done. At night as you sleep in rooms chock-a-block with wobbly bunkbeds, all sorts of noises erupt from the bodies around you – and perhaps from within you. Snoring, the expulsion of gas, mutterings from those in wild dream, or just two pilgrims who whisper into the night to one another.

Something that is highly normative on Camino is people showing their totally screwed up feet to one another. Taking your shoes off in a cafe or restaurant does not merit a raised eyebrow, it happens all the time. Blisters Continue reading