Thursday, January 26, 2006


I am going on retreat for the weekend. Hope to get in a lot of quiet time, and prayer, and hear some good stuff from the Jesuits. They have great food, too. It is held at the White House Retreat Center in what used to be rural St. Louis County. Old white stone buildings give it the name, built on a wooded bluff above the Mississippi River.
My fourth time there....Pray for me and I will return the favor.

Here I will leave something I wrote about 10 years ago.
Kinda wintery in tone.

The trees and roads and hills were liberally dusted with the first fresh fall of the season. Here and there, a squirrel moved its way tentatively toward somewhere it instinctively knew meant food. Sound was at a minimum, except for the faint low hum of the wind. As the day ran on, everything took on a steely gray hue.

The man viewed this scene from the second story bedroom window. His breath steamed the panes briefly, as brief was the best his breathing could do these days. Light from the desk lamp caused a reflection of someone he once knew. Or thought he knew, at least. Who are you anyway, he wondered as he gazed at the face in the window.

And what of this face? Cheeks a bit sunken, a fringe of a mustache, gray and white specks on the chin. A strong chin it was, with a deep vertical dent in the center. A genetically defining dent, one shared by most of his descendants. The eyes, pale blue, were surrounded by folds of skin and rutted lines extending from the outer corners into the cheeks. As for hair, or lack of such, the steady retreat begun in his forties was now virtually at an end, leaving only whitish tufts above the ears. It seemed some of the fallen follicles had taken root on the ridges above the eyes, and even on and around the ears. With a wry grin, the man recalled telling his youngest now a lovely woman in her own right, how “going bald was okay”, because the hair wasn’t really gone, it just fell on his back and shoulders and grew there. He was just keeping it there for now. And it made him smile to remember that this story was good enough for her then.

Funny, too, how the face looking back was so like his fathers, and even his fathers’ fathers’. How much, he mused, did this repeat? Did his great grandfather look the same? Would one of his sons? How far back, how much forward? It was a warm feeling of rootedness that these thoughts brought, even in the viewing of a life in decline.

So. There he was. The same, yet not the same. Still, in that reflection was the curly headed boy who played at sports with abandon, had some moderate success in prep and college, and came of age in a time of his countrys’ vast confusion over a foreign war, and a moral decline to match the Romans. This boy-to-man had the blessed fortune to encounter a woman four years his junior, who was to provide the love and meaning to his life for over half a century, who would bear their six children and with him see them grow and struggle and fight and rejoice their way through the plus and minus of their own lives.

She was “My North, my South, my East and West, my working week and my Sunday rest”, as the Irish poet W. H. Auden put it. “I thought love would last forever. I was wrong.”

Well, it turns out Auden was wrong....the love lasted, but the earthen vessel that bore her tremendous spirit failed all to soon. It was almost understood between them that he would be the first to go. Not that either of them had any was just a feeling. But it was in a time very like today that she took her leave. Mercifully short and remarkably almost painless, her demise was handled much the same way she went through life.....with great love and humor, and more thought of others than herself. In testimonial to her deep faith, it was remarked that all who had seen her smile now had a special emissary in the hereafter, to help pave their way. And if her earthly will and love had the same heavenly force, then her blessings would continue to reach out until we all met up again.

A rush of melting snow falling past the window roused the man from his remembrance. He seemed to spend more and more of his time there, in the past. It was known, and it was for the most part pleasant, and she was there. So he easily drifted back to her, and the smile. It was the first thing he saw, the feature most attracting. Through the years, it always humbled him, to know she was with him, and that he probably got more of those smiles than anyone else. It was a gift of God, that smile, and one she gave away freely and generously. Others envied it, he knew, although they never said. And it was to his great joy that their children possessed that gift, each and everyone. It would always set them apart as beautiful.

The face in the reflection also had a smile now. Oh, it wasn’t like hers, but it showed promise,. For, down below into the street spilled loads of descendants, the real reason he continued to hold on since she left. They would come, and eat, and drink, and yell, and laugh..... and cry. They would linger, and then be gone.

But their stay would always give him more fuel for the fire, until his burned down for good, and the ash fluttered up, and they were together again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006



(thanks to lee strong for correcting my math.....t)

Monday, January 23, 2006

TAG, I'M IT.....

Got this from angelmeg at Transcendental Musings. I don't normally do these, but this looked fun.
1. Before I go out the door, I make sure my zipper is up. (seriously....very important!)
2. I can't seem to catch up on my sleep. (can nap anytime...anywhere.)
3. The one surface that seems to get cluttered fast is my mind.
4. If I sleep past Tuesday, I feel like I've overslept, (although it makes for a short work week)
5. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to make money in my sleep.
6. I hope to have my income taxes done by somebody who can get me max. refund and min. jail time.
7. This year, I would like to make more time for golf, guitar and dates with the lovely bride......(though not necessarilly in that order.)

No tags, but have at it if so inclined.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


"I was going to be the first female President of the United States."
"I would have become a wife, and mother of four, with my oldest becoming a teacher."
"I would have died in a car accident on my 18th birthday, hit by a drunken driver."
"I was to have been that drunken driver."
"My destiny was to find the cure to cancer."
"I was to contract cancer in childhood, only to have it cured."
"My life would have been terrible, a victim of abuse, until I grew up and founded a home for abused and neglected children."
"I was to have been a child abuser, and later take my own life."
"I was going to be a carpenter."
"My life was going to be full of excitement, and love, and children of my own."

Just a few of the destinies of the more than 46,000,000 souls that never had a chance, to struggle, to laugh, to cry, to suffer, to find joy, to bring love to participate in this gift called life.

Roe v. Wade.....33 years and counting.

Ora pro nobis, and for all those who are victims.......the children, the women, the medical personnel.
May we see an end to this soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


In the interest of furthering the collective knowledge of our nation, and to allow for responses to some of the burning questions of our day, I would like to take the opportunity to offer for your viewing pleasure.....

1. Is Osama bin Ladin really a Bush administration stooge, existing only to give force and power to the administration's plans for global dominance, snooping, and just generally annoying liberals?
2. Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour" finally came, at age 64. What was your favorite, all-time Motown song?
3. Will "The Simpsons" ever be cancelled....I mean EVER?
4. Is there anyone out there who can step up and be a voice for Black Americans?
5. Considering "Brokeback Mountain", do you wonder even a little bit about Tonto and the Lone Ranger?

Consider carefully, and respond.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


We just returned from a baptism preparation session at the rectory. Jill and I do this on occasion. I never really know what to say before I talk at these times, but the little prayer we say before it always seems to help. So I just started of the couples had their gorgeous little 8 week old daughter there...she inspired me.
I mentioned that when John baptized Jesus, he then stepped back, and Jesus was the focus. In the same way, a parent needs to step back from their self, making the child the focus of their life. Maybe not very original or profound, but definitely true.
I also have been reading the Bible lately, and came across the part where Abraham blesses his sons. A priest once told me that a father's blessing is very powerful, coming from all the way back to the Old Bible guys. So I mentioned to the dad tonight that he can simply pass this on by making the sign of the cross on his daughters forehead.
Heck, I bless my kids cars when they take off for college or Chicago, or just a couple miles away. I sneak up on them and bless them on their shoulder without them even knowing it, or when they are sleeping.
Don't pass up the chance, mom and dad. Never know when you may get another one.

Monday, January 16, 2006


This being a holiday, and me being a teacher adds up to me being on the golf course today. Played the par 3, using only my Precept 7 wood, 7-iron, sand wedge and putter. The putter is "cock" as my brother-in-law Jackie would say, using a slang phrase from our youth that used to drive my mom up the wall. It is a mallet head, cherry wood, from the same company that makes baseball bats, Louisville. Jill gave it to me on my birthday four years ago. Actually, she asked me what I wanted and I said a putter that costs $100 bucks and she said I was nuts but I got it anyway.
Yeah, she spoils me.
Golf really is a strange game. You can look great, with the logo hats and the shoes and top equipment, but if your swing smells like butt cheese, fuggedaboutit. I decided to put to use the tips I got from a range jockey (my name for the guy who hangs out on the practice tees, giving out advice, whether you want it or not. Something I aspire to...), and use my new grip. And keep the head down, for Jimminy-Crickets sakes.
So here I was, the course almost empty, which is how I love it.... playing "Three-Ball Tommy " (a fancy name for cheating) where I play my first ball for the score on the hole, and take two more shots each time. Hey, Tiger and Phil do it all the time, and they get paid for's called a "practice round.
Well, I did ok for the first time out. 7 over, with no birdies and one double booger.
No complaints here....I was out!
But maybe the best part was that, after the ninth, I wandered into the woods and found 15 balls. 15!! So I was up plus 11 on ball count for the day. Felt like a kid at a private Easter egg hunt.
Tomorrow their calling for snow.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King!

Sunday, January 15, 2006


A noted British historian named C.V Wedgewood said:
"History is lived forward but written in retrospect. We know the end before we consider the beginning, and we can never wholly recapture what it was to know the beginning only."
I always thought that Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech was a courageous attempt at delineating what our future could be. We know how he ended, but at the beginning, man, he sure did spell it out. No matter what you think of him now, it would hard to deny that he moved us forward. I take inspiration from his words.
A few years ago, I wrote a column for The Suburban Journal. Here it is.


When it comes to the matter of race, strong opinions abound. Words like racism, prejudice, and discrimination bring up the heat on one side, as much as double standards, affirmative action and quotas do on the other. It seems to be a fact of life in our society that the color of a persons skin has a great deal to do with their experiences growing up, where they live, who they hang out with, who they marry, who they support in they live their lives in general. But why is it that ones color or the look of their eyes causes such things to be so?

Historically, non-whites have been a put-upon underclass worldwide, but more specifically in our country. This includes African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American. Greater access to higher education and aggressive government programs have helped change this over the past 40 years, to some degree. But this change has been slow and not without serious effort and cost. And increasingly we see this wariness and mistreatment toward many people of Middle Eastern descent.

“That’s just the way it is....some things will never change” goes the refrain of a recently popular song. But is this really the way we want our world to continue to operate?

I believe most of us are honest people, or at least try to be. So a question that might be asked now is: Who among us, of any race, can say they have not at least once used an ethnic slur, told a racial joke, or said something unkind about someone you don’t even know just because of the way they look? If you are one of these people, I applaud you. You are a far better person than I. However I would hazard a guess that there may be only a few of you out there.

So why do we act like this? In the larger world, we see Palestinians against Jews, Muslims at odds with Hindus, Sunnis versus Kurds. Some groups of students at Howard University reportedly cheered when O.J. was acquitted, some whites still feel that they are genetically superior to everyone else. At this rate, will we ever get to the point that Rev. Martin Luther King dreamed of, that the sons of slave owners and the sons of slaves would some day play together in harmony, and be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin?

Well, I have to think it will. Here in North St. Louis County we have probably the greatest mix of people in the whole region. I teach school in a north county public school where kids of all races do get along, eat lunch together, and play sports together. They may not always socialize together but they seem to peacefully co-exist. Kids in my neighborhood and others I hear of get along together. It can be done. They do it every day. It may not be perfect, but they seem to be at least trying.

Mark Twain said, ”Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul----and never will.”
Opinions can change. Our opinion many times comes from what we have been taught, but ultimately it comes from our hearts. And human beings hearts can change. But it takes effort. If we can change our hearts and our opinions, we may be able to subsequently alter our actions. Ultimately, it will take each of us, in our own way and our own time, to change our hearts.

Back when he was in the news, Rodney King said something that was quite profound. When turmoil and rioting surrounded the acquittal of those who beat him, he issued a universal appeal.

“Can’t we all just get along?” he said.

Is it possible that it really is just that simple?

Can’t we all just get along?

Maybe it’s not too late for this generation to get it right. But the hope is that future generations will find the right answer to that question, and in answering, fulfill Rev. Kings dream.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


My wife gave me the book "John Paul the Great" by Peggy Noonan for my birthday... so far, it is very compelling reading. Awhile back I did an article for the Community News of St. Louis, and I am posting it here. I wrote it shortly after his death this past year.
This guy will probably be a saint in my lifetime, and most likely deservedly so. He sure was the right guy for the job at the time.

A great upset was in the making in the fall of 1978. The leaders of one of the oldest religions were gathered to choose their new leader. Again. They were still numb from the shock of the untimely death of one of their brothers whom they had just elevated to the highest position only two months previous. It was in this unprecedented atmosphere that Karol Wojtyla, the cardinal prelate from Poland, became the first Slavic pope, and the first non-Italian to be named to the pontificate in 455 years.
The whole world, but especially the Catholic world, was in for quite an experience.
Much has been written about the effect of the papacy of Pope John Paul II. He was so influential during his 26 year run that he is now being heralded by some as “The Great”, a designation given only to two other successors of Peter. For many, this man was the only pope they had known. With his travels, his reaching out to all religions and peoples, he changed the perception of “The Pope” for millions of people. But this can all be chronicled elsewhere, far better than I.
What will be shared here is a lesser known story that serves to point up the power that this one man wielded, as he went about his business as archbishop of Krakow during the years of communist domination of Eastern Europe. It is a story of the strength of will, almost prophetic in nature, a sign of even greater things to come.
The year was 1952. The Soviets had political power over Poland as a result of the post-World War II agreement between Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Harry Truman. They wanted to make a statement, to create a monument of sorts to their ideology. So on the outskirts of Krakow, they constructed an industrial city. It was built with their latest technology, to showcase the greatness that, they said, was communism. The enormous Lenin Steelworks was the keystone, along with “efficient” apartment complexes that would house some of the over 27,000 workers who toiled there in its peak. It was called Nova Huta, and it was to be the crown jewel of the “new order” in Eastern Europe.
But this city was unusual in a way that no other new city ever had been. In keeping with the Soviet atheistic philosophy, this town was built without a church. Not one single church of any kind.
This did not set well with Karol Wojtyla, then archbishop of Krakow.
During the next decade, along with Poland’s Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the future pope kept up a relentless pressure on the communist authorities to allow him to have free and non-violent assemblies. The dictatorship held fast, however. They did allow the assemblies but a church was out of the question.
For 12 years, the man from Wadowice said Christmas Mass in an open field, clearly in defiance of the dictates against it. He even had a cross erected on the site.
Through sheer force of will and courage in the face of death, Karol Wojtyla led his people thorough those God-less years.
And the people of Nova Huta eventually got their church.
By virtue of his leadership, the power of the people, the Catholic Church became the only independent authority in communist Eastern Europe. This success helped to embolden the Solidarity labor movement, and eventually, many historians say, led to the eventual collapse of communism in Europe.
Maybe Karol Wojtyla was just merely the right guy in the right place at precisely the right time.
But maybe it was something more.
The Polish poet Juliusz Slowacki may have known this man would come to the forefront of world events. In a poem written more than a century before that October day in 1978, he said:
Amidst all the discord,
God sets an immense bell ringing,
He opens the throne to a Slavic Pope….
Much energy is needed to rebuild the Lord’s world;
and that is why a Slavic Pope is coming,
a brother of the peoples…
A brother of the peoples. All the peoples. His papal motto was “Totus Tuus”, “totally yours.” That was the essence of Karol Wojtyla.
We may never see the likes of him again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Over the last few years, I have developed a "jones" for golf. Not that I play all that much, but I sure do want to play a lot. I used to think it was the Game of Wusses, for people who couldn't do anything else. And for me, that was true, since the old knees and ankles are such that I couldn't run 10 feet to save my life. And I mean that literally, as well as figuratively. The biggest, baddest, butcher-knife-hacking mutha could be after me, and I'd just have to die.
Still, as I took up the game, I began to appreciate the skill, stamina and concentration required to do it well.
Now some folks out there talk about "what is a sport?"...and "what defines 'athlete'?" Is NASCAR a sport, or figure skating? How about golf? I know guys who can drive a Titliest into the next zipcode, but I would never call them an athlete. On the other hand, the game requires key components of athleticism, such as eye-hand coordintation, balance and rhythym, not to mention a combination of strength and finesse, to hit a round ball with a flat stick into a little bitty hole a couple of football fields away in under 5 swings.
So, I don't know.
What I do know is that I gotta get out soon. Lately, it's been either a lousy day and I have the time, or a great day and I am busy as all heck.
Anybody else chomping to tee it up?

Monday, January 09, 2006


I put some ads on the sidebar. I want to see what happens when I put some key words in this post. So here goes....Cardinals, Baby Boomer, grand kids, retirement, 401 K (so far, pretty boring, huh?) How about pro-life, the fires of hell, Los Feliz golf course in Los Angeles, where they rent clubs for a quarter and it cost $4 to was the course where the losers from the movie "Swingers" played.....son Joe and I played when we went out there Thanksgiving of '04. Nice course for the price....and I chipped in on the 5th hole from at least, oh, probably 25 yards from the green.
Maybe I'll add Santa Monica and Governor Arnold....lets see what all this brings....
(just noticed that ad is also spelled wonder English is so hard to learn for little kids!)

Sunday, January 08, 2006


The only resolution I made for the new year was to read the Bible from start to finish. Never had, and always wanted to. So as I am going through it page by page, and interesting thing is happening. The book seems to be calling out to me, not in some spooky mystical sense, but definitely it is always on my mind. A good sign, that maybe I am on to something I am supposed to be doing.

One thing that hits me early on is that them Bible Guys sure did "get around". I mean they didn't call him Father Abraham for nuttin'. Lots of "laying with" and "begetting" going on by Isaac and Jacob and the sons of sons of sons. And dang, they even had the blessing of the Lord on them, telling them He would help them build a great nation. So they were just following orders, I guess.
It will be interesting to see just where this monogamy thing comes in, though.

Today, the number at the top of my profile changed to 57. But the best thing about the day is that my college daughter turned 21. So she can have her first drink!
Yeah, right. Legal, at least.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Just when I feel like I'm catching up, something comes along that knocks me to the back of the line.
I was the last brother in the family to get a microwave, a garage door opener, and a cell phone, and we have had satellite for only about a year. They would laugh at me, saying I needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century. And this was in the 21st century.
Anyway, I was feeling pretty good about myself and my new techno-savvy, having figured out the cell phone (well, mostly), and working my way through the computer. However, I still call the 14 year old in for tech support now and then.
Then along shows up the Nano Ipod, and Blackberrys, and razor cell phones.
Back of the line, kiddo, they shout out to me, rudely.
I have to tell you, I am in awe of the people who think this stuff up. Then, I am in awe everytime I flip the toggle on the wall and a light comes on. And please don't get me started about the internal combustion engine.
So long live technology....I just hope I live long enough to figure some of it out.

Monday, January 02, 2006


It was in the year 1946 that the first Baby Boomer was born. The term really didn't catch on at first, but it sure has grown. Some say to the point of nausea. There have been some stories about the first boomer being from the Missouri area, being born 1/2 second after midnight. But then, a lady in the Northeast got a lot of press recently as the first one, due to the time zone difference, born at 12:01. The guy in Missouri didn't make a big deal about it.
"Any one born even a few seconds after midnight has a birth certificate that says '12:01'," he said.
So the leading edge folks are heading into their 60's. And the tail-enders will hit 42 in '06.
If you take a life-span in todays actuarial table of 80 years old, that means this old world will be stuck with us until 2044.
Some say that, having been a hippie and a yuppie, and now an "abbie" ( aging baby boomer), we believe we are going to die before we get old.
Me? I'm just hoping for tomorrow.....