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Joaquin Phoenix, to be Remarkable

Phoenix: “defined as a person or thing regarded as uniquely remarkable in some respect.” A bird that lives on, flying so close to the sun that it is consumed by fire, dying on the funeral pyre, yet to be born again, resurrected to live on.  Recognizing my own prejudice, to size people up on the quick, I hope to achieve a new sense of enlightenment and to heal my tendency to categorize and divide. Maybe it comes with age, as I long for the onset of senior wisdom. Our country, our conversations are experiencing a great divide. Unfortunately, we’ve surrendered to dualistic thinking. It’s either this or that, black or white, liberal or conservative, it’s either me or you.  I’m trying to rewire, retire my old way of thinking. In a false sense of order, many of us are drawn to place people in categories, subjugating each one unfairly into one camp or another without taking the time to consider what they are actually saying. We scan each other’s comments with the keenness of a we

Three of a Kind: Taylor Swift, Bob Marley & Fr. James Martin

What do Bob Marley, Taylor Swift, and Fr. James Martin, SJ have in common? Indulge yourself and read on. The cards I’ve been dealt with and  the ones I’ve traded in have left me with an interesting hand.  Impulsiveness, sarcasm, and passive-aggressive actions are all cards I have held in the hold, in the bundle of pride.  In my ministry zeal, I realize that I have been less compassionate and charitable in seeking justice.  I know, I know I need to trade these “cards” in.  I am a sinner searching for the right path. Building a House of Cards  These past few days I’ve found three of kind in my hand and there’s no way I’m going to fold. I recently watched the Netflix documentary on Taylor Swift.  Miss Americana. I’ve appreciated her music, vulnerability and her talent to write and perform heartfelt songs. She has a gift and an Achilles’ heel which we see in the movie. As a young girl, she seemed to strive for stardom being the “Good Girl” ever seeking approval. Spoiler A

Sales By Appointment Only

Quit Trying to "sell" me Something Looking back I realized how long I've been in the "Selling Game". As my years begin to sneak up on the milestone of sixty, I feel qualified to spot a pitch artist at work.  Pitch Artist The seeds of sales development goes back to seventh grade at St. Martin of Tours Catholic grammar school and Sister Xavier's class. The venerable Sister stood at about five foot two, and no one dared to see if she had eyes of blue, but for sure she ruled her classroom with an iron fist, and what seemed to be an iron ruler.  As a youngster trained to respect authority, with a deep fear of the religious habited nuns who, in the case of Sr. Xavier seemed to be beyond my ability to calculate age, I endeavored to win her over. Most everyone in the class was well behaved or worked hard not to get caught by "Xaiver" for even the slightest infraction.   I remember the specific cadence of her walk down each row of desks, h

Confessions of a “Sports Agnostic”

My journey on becoming a full-fledged “Sports Agnostic” began with Little League baseball in the early seventies as a ten-year-old. Maybe it was my less than athletic prowess or the fact that I never developed the skills many of my friends achieved with such admirable effectiveness.  The basics, hitting, running and ball catching eluded me as I learned to be quite the bench-warmer in my early youth.  I think back to my schoolyard days and the regret and shame I internalized of not being good enough to be selected for either team for the lunchtime slap ball game. Numerous rejections relegated me and a couple of the boys to the sidelines until we finally accepted the fact that being one of the chosen athletes was in the statistical category of “slim to none”. I could blame my dad for not taking the time to help me hone my skills, or I could blame my flat-footed feet or even the childhood asthma attacks I endured, but for some reason, I never got the hang of being a full-fledged, team

Missing "Espo" Jim Esposito

On September 6, 2019, our good friend "Espo" went to the other side... I'm reposting this to remember!  Missing "Espo" Back in September 2019 good friends and family gathered together to console each other on the passing of a dear friend, Jim Esposito. Before his death, Jim requested that I preside over his wake service. As I think about the friends we miss, I decided to post the framework of my remembrance the night of his wake.  The room was filled with emotion, especially considering the impact of 9/11 on all of us.  September 11, 2019 Tonight, we both celebrate Jim’s life, and his birth to eternal life. I find wake services very difficult, I’m uneasy and often don’t know what to say. Tonight, we share the void in our hearts of Jim’s absence and look for the hope of the promises made at our baptisms by Jesus.   That he has a place set aside for us. In speaking with Jim’s family, the doctor’s described his condition as an enigma.   Through

Winter Healing

I always found the antidote “Physician heal thy self” misguided. These past few weeks have marked a dramatic pause in my vocation as I think about isolation and discernment on where I’m being called to do good work.  My involuntary pause of vocation is considered a medicinal remedy for “my own healing”.   As the good doctor says, “only time will tell”.  “Everything is a blessing” is another phrase to contemplate as I wonder if I am over-rationalizing recent events; never the less, as I tell my friends, “my schedule has opened up”.   This Winter is a time for early evening darkness, the distant howl of the Great South Bay wind blows down our canal rustling the tarp-draped boats longing for springtime excursions. Early January is a time for fasting after the holiday feasts, as both body and mind look to regain their healthy ways. I am poured out like a libation, freed and wanting.  I try to focus and reach into something positive. “You have a gift”, I’m told, to express

Finding Christ in Community

Today on the Feast of the Epiphany, we doubled up on our Church services.  First, we attended 8:45 Sunday Mass at the Church of St. Joseph, where I recently served as a Permanent Deacon, then Debbie and I attended the launch of Community Church in Babylon Village at their first-ever church service at 10:30.   How truly fitting it was to do this on the   Feast of the Epiphany of Christ , as Father Francis explained in his homily, Epiphany is the “manifestation of Christ”.  Those who know me have come to realize that I hate shopping, and this day was not meant to be “shopping for a new church day” , but considering the state of scandal within the Church, we felt impelled to see what this new church was all about. As a couple with an experience of outreach in the community we are called to wonder, and ask the deep questions about our faith, our institutions and to see Christ in and be Christ to others.  We arrived a couple of minutes before the service began in the basemen