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Showing posts from 2012

Self-Giving: Its Own Reward

Brenda is 80 years old. She had come to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Las Cruces to ask for help in relocating from a substandard insect-infested living arrangement. When relocating to Las Cruces for health reasons, Brenda was not aware of the shortage of subsidized housing, and that waiting lists were long. Her only alternative was to cut a deal with a substandard motel for a weekly rate that almost completely ate up her fixed income. Getting around the City was also difficult for Brenda. She had access only to public transportation further limiting her subsidized housing options. Brenda braced herself each day for the many unknowns. There were the doctors, the prescription needs, the food needs, and clothing needs. Then there was the loneliness and the distance from far away friends and family. She remembers vividly the nights of unidentifiable frightening noises, the drunken screaming, the raucous laughter, all increasing Brenda's anxiety. W hen I told Brenda "y

Cristina is Not Dorothy and There is No Place Called Home

Part II -  Christina is a Powerful Name On all the occasions I have met people, I have sensed that there is "power" in a name. Perhaps that is the purpose of the act of naming. In the Book of Genesis, God "empowers" Adam to name all the creatures. There is something in a name that gives it more than identity but whether by accident, coincidence, or even Divine providence, I have come to the conclusion that a name that befalls upon a person was "meant" for that person. So Christina, who is not Dorothy looking for Kansas, is actually someone else. She is someone more invisible and who blends in better than the horse of a different color, or even any munchkin in munchkin land. In this emerald city, Christina is blessed to have a name that denotes a heart connection with one who is "anointed". And just what does this mean? If you read part I of this blog, you will know that if anything, Christina has been indeed anointed with suffering, disaster,

Cristina is Not Dorothy and There is No Place Called Home

PART I -- Cristina on Her Way Imagine if it is at all possible crossing into an unknown, volatile, and extremely unpredictable future -- an unknown landscape, an unknown "unknown," if you will, all because they killed your husband. They rapid fire shot him (whoever they are) in front of you, your three children, mother, brother and his three kids. The crossing has nothing to do with looking for a better economic life, or a job, or anything to do with money. She and her husband had jobs. She and her husband supported her family. They lived in Juarez, Mexico, and did not fit the typical profile of the immigrant who travels the expanse of Central America to find a better life. I have images in my own mind of centuries ago a man, a child, and a woman are warned that soldiers are coming to kill the child and they must flee from one poverty to another for the sake of staying alive. In panic, one foot before another, a chain of human beings careen the bridge silhouetted by flood

Beatific Vision: Sanctifying Drops of Rain

Time moves as fast as a rain drop falls from a thunderstorm. I had never realized until today just how fast a drop of rain falls. It moves more like a bullet fired from a high caliber firearm. Billions of drops strike and splash the ground in random cadence. Natural syncopation. A mere drop of water is a "lifetime-uneventuality" moving in the rain drop, like a soul being born for purpose and yet unpredicted in the human sense. The drop of life is not time itself. Time is only duration. A life, on the other hand, is the the very construct of the rain drop itself, its size, its sheen, its purity, its heavyness or substance, or even, its "ontological essence." I know, "too many syllables." Yup. My self advice is to ditch Platonic and Augustinian philosophical constructs and write about what is, um, "real". So today, at the Diocese of Las Cruces Pastoral Center, as I contemplated life through the Venetian blinds of the coffee room, out the pane of

Uncomplicated Sanctuary: The Human Tabernacle

I suppose for a writer it's not too cool to be redundant. Words can be used too much. Using the same word more than once is a sign, perhaps, that the vocabulary needs to be expanded. But that's not necessarily always so. Some words are unique and carry with them such a singular significance that used more than once, go to the heart of what a writer means. Tabernacle is one of those words.To the heart of it -- a woman named Priscilla O. She is a unique tabernacle in a little town north of where I live. But before I tell you a little bit about Priscilla O., I want you to envision a biblical parallel to not only who she is, but what she is.When I first saw Priscilla O., I could not help but think of Moses' reaction when he saw the exquisite flame, unquenchable upon the unromantic looking chamisa-like bush that was uncomsumable; its fuel apparently, inexhaustible. It would be ironic if the "burning bush" indeed was a Chamisa or Rabbitbrush plant.  The New York Times d

Tabernacle: First Day at Work

At the place I work, there is a special place with walls that harmonize in quietude and peace. Rich with tranquil pageantry. The king's throne room. I walked into work for the first time after four years of wondering what my purpose in life would be. Would be? And in all that wondering of what would be, I failed to see the purpose my life already held in those singular and irreplaceable present moments. Imagine! Four years of present moments gone by at a clip. They were four years of no real routine. Of those four years, the last two were the least routine, yet all the same and filled with adventure. Only sometimes, I failed to see the adventure in the challenge of being charged with caring for a man and woman who are a source of blessing and inspiration in the precious present moments of my past and even now. But I digress. Back on topic, at this place, there are many cubicles and fancy offices, hallways, a lunch room and typical office traffic. The place has a unique characte

Life: Pinata Parties, Catastrophes and Eucatastrophes

Before I get to my surprise, you will have to wade through this mess of thoughts, unless of course, you cheat and skip over it and go to the end. I wouldn't blame you cause that is probably what I might do. But then again, I might just wade through the cherry jello to get to the slice of banana. You truly cannot appreciate the slice of the banana unless you taste it with the jello. Life is a Pinata Party Truly living life is a giant pinata party. We bang the thing blindfolded. We sense its swing; feel the brush against our hair, and so we take a whack again. Again, we do a round-about and swing; and we can hear the rope pull the pinata zipping up and down as if it were alive and trying to escape our baton's collision. And then suddenly, with that mysterious crack like close lightening, a shower of sweet delights rain down upon our head. Pinatas are interesting because they represent our desire to conquer the "seven deadly sins:" Pride, envy, anger, sloth, g

Uncomplicated Healings

I cannot describe the moment to you from an on lookers perspective. I cannot give you the particulars of what it looked like for me to plummet down twelve feet from a roof to a concrete floor, perhaps hitting two hard plastic chairs on the way down. I can't even say that there is a slow motion instant replay version of this in my mind. No one was there to film my misstep onto an old aluminum ladder which collapsed with me on it; and down I went humpty-dumpty like with a crash of metal bending and twisting, concave, and after it all, leaning haphazard against the stucco walls of my father in law's house. I'd never anticipated any moment like this. If the flame of a candle could possibly have any self consciousness, and if that flame could consider its own extreme extrinsic contingency, (how its life might be eradicated by an unpredictable rush of an immense wind blitzing against its dancing delicate light against the night sky), that is how my "sucked up" sense of

The Gift of Moment

Two 9 year old boys headed talking and laughing down the shortcut on their way to the movies. Gallup, New Mexico, is an old mining town and the part of town I lived in was a little barrio built on Gallup's hill country where a number of old mines still exist like catacombs underneath the landscape. Alleys were popular shortcuts. And those adventurous shortcuts, we would use, even if encroaching on other people's property. Neighbors never really cared in those days. We were just neighborhood kids. Everyone knew everyone. No one locked their doors that remember. Nothing to steal. My friend and I were both named Tommy, and we would always try to circumvent the old barn house where they used to say Rollie Mortuary would keep caskets in storage. I remember distinctly that as a child, I didn't really know what a casket was, but I had heard the word "coffin."  Coffin, to a child, sounds unexplainably more creepy. Coffins were a part of the genre of the Dracula and Fran

Winning in the Spaces in Between

Words by their very utterance can either separate or unite. A sword can divide, and a sword can unite. Excalibur is a symbol of a sword that united a people toward defeating evil. The the two words, "word" and "sword" are unalterably tied to one another as if both were two opposite edges of the same blade. It is interesting that if you add the letter "s" to the word "word", you get "sword." The representation of swords in history have by their use been dividers. Cultures have defeated other cultures in the dialectic of history in the use of this piece of metal, shaped to a point and sharpened on the edges to cut, maim and pierce armor and eventually skin. Words also can be used for their piercing quality, their cutting quality and their destructive capability in dividing brother from brother, father from son, mother from daughter, and so on. The utterance itself is the use of a unique irreplaceable breath, or the unique set of strokes

The Gladiator of Mt. LaVerna

Francis of Assisi grasped the rocks of Mount Laverna in order to get to the top. He had no finger nails left from all the intense friction of his fingers against the stones. Cold and damp, the air whirled round about him as his mind moved from delusion to illusion and finally, to complete focus -- clarity. The climb. The mountain. The confusion. The infusion. The wind so powerful that causes fear in the heart to hear its rush is inescapable, even in a cave. On that crest, was Christ. Christ the focus for Francis! It was a focus of the eye, the heart and the soul. Christ with wings and a lance. Clarity. This encounter was at Francis' invitation. This was no intrusion of the Christ. This was truly infusion of living bread into a dilapidated body which Francis himself called "brother ass." On that crest, Francesco Bernardone had his greatest challenge. This would be a prayer of struggle. A gauntlet had been thrown down by Christ on the crest of the mountain top. It was a kin

Who Knocks There?

I say. "Jesus, would you like to have a drink of water and sit for a time on the little wood bench our Father gave me to offer you when you came by? It's inside my dusty little house that I try to keep clean, but the winds have brought only dust. I will wash your feet, you can rest a bit and just maybe, just maybe, the rains will come. Behind you." On the wooden bench our father made, Jesus says to me, "The dust storm that blew me here is just a storm to get us ready for a beautiful calm. Thanks for the water. Tonight you will have good dreams. Tomorrow? Well it will be different as though I will never have left your company. Water will come. In the meantime watch for other travelers who will be by as they follow in my steps. Pilgrims. Point the road I take now. I never leave a house by the way I came. I am the one who will follow me. And when there are no more behind me, you come and see where I live. It is closer than you think. I smell rain. It smells like my

Walking into the Now

( The following is a reconstruction of the experience which I can only imagine. I am trying to see and describe a world experienced by my loved one who has Alzheimer's. Each hour is a day to him. He navigates by no existing sextant. His is a journey of sighted sightlessness. It is here, in this situation, where it is so necessary to ask the Angels and God's good hand to gently usher one with this disease and their caregivers in the right orientation. I pray: "Adjutorium nostrum in nomine domini qui fecit caelum et terrum." Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Psalm 123) My eyes open. It takes me a moment that drags into minutes. I am unfamiliar with this room. My heart speeds up. My legs do not cooperate well. I get them from off the bed. I am wearing pajamas. Do I keep these on? I hear noises around me. My eyes focus on a switch on the wall. A light switch. I wonder if my mother is ok? It seems like long since yesterday when I last saw he