I’m Feeling Like a Japanese Bowl Today

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Today is the one month anniversary of my car crash.  I’ve been on the mend ever since.  It hasn’t been easy, but through prayer, meditation, journaling and the healing prayers of family and friends, and the work of the doctors and physical therapists, I am healing.

A dear friend of mine posted a YouTube video today, with photos and lyrics by Peter Mayer…a song about a Japanese bowl.  Here are the lyrics:

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls That were made long ago
I have some cracks in me They have been filled with gold

That’s what they used back then When they had a bowl to mend
It did not hide the cracks It made them shine instead

So now every old scar shows from every time I broke
And anyone’s eyes can see I’m not what I used to be

But in a collector’s mind All of…

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Progressive Lenses

imageAs I was cleaning my glasses, I heard a snap.  Oh, no!  I looked down and saw that one of my lenses had popped out.  When I tried to put it back in, I realized that the frame had broken.  Upon examination, I knew that there was no way I could patch that metal frame.  It would have to be replaced.

When I called the eye doctor to see if they still had that frame, I was told that they didn’t have one in stock but they would order it for me and it would be here in a few days.  I would have to make do until then.

I scurried through my drawers looking for an old pair of glasses.  I couldn’t find the pair I was looking for but I did find an old pair of prescription sun glasses that would have to work until I could get a replacement frame.

As I walked around in “my old shades” my eyes started to adjust, but the prescription was just different enough to make my vision slightly blurry.  After several hours of this, I also started to get a headache.  Since I’m near sighted, I could read ok without them…but to see any thing at a distance, I would have to wear the old glasses.

This has made me think about the lenses we wear to look at the world.  Every time we find ourselves in new circumstances, it is like putting on a new pair of glasses.  And once we adjust to them, its hard to go back and wear the old lenses because they don’t really work that well for us anymore.  Our eyesight has changed.

For years, I have been wearing “progressive lenses”…the kind that progress from reading lenses on the bottom to middle distance reading and then on to a different magnification in order to see out into the distance.  That took a lot of getting used to because these type of lenses make your eyes feel like they are riding a wave when you glance up and down.  But the beauty of them is that they are seamless.  There is no line between the reading part of the lens and the distance part like there is in a bifocal.  Also, instead of a line, the middle of the lens helps with seeing middle distances like a computer screen which is about an arms length away.  This really helps me because I do a lot of work on my computer.

I am looking forward to getting my new frame, hopefully today or tomorrow.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to muddle through with an old pair of glasses.  Thankfully, I found a clear pair so the world isn’t quite so dark as the first few hours were after my glasses broke.

There are always lessons to be learned.  I find that this temporary situation is helping me to appreciate something that I have taken for granted…my ability to see clearly at different distances when wearing progressive lenses.  My vision is made sharper by wearing this type of corrective lenses.

This makes me think not only of my eye sight but of my vision of the world.  I believe that my progressive vision helps me not only to see things as they are, but also as they could be.  It helps me to look forward and to adjust to the world around me.  I’m not stuck in the past, wearing old lenses that no longer work.  I’ll stop there before I get too preachy.  For now, I will be content to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the new insights I have into myself and the world around me as I await my new eye glass frame.

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My Teenage Idols: A Pope and a President

imageDuring my teenage years, two great Roman Catholic men called John captured my imagination with their progressive visions for my church and country: Pope John XXIII and President John F. Kennedy.  I took to heart their calls to open the windows and doors of the church, and to ask not what our country could do for us but what we could do for our country.  Their words still shape my religious and political views, and continue to echo in my heart.

In the early 1960’s, it was quite an exciting time to be a Roman Catholic teenager in Chicago.  After centuries of the church seemingly “frozen in time,” suddenly it became alive with the Spirit of renewal.  Looking back, its hard to imagine just how earth shattering the changes were going to be for us living through those times.

I can distinctly remember going out on Friday nights with my friends, and the main topics of conversation would be politics and religion.  Why do I remember Friday nights?  We would spend all week talking about our plans, and then Friday would come around and we’d rush home to get ready to go out to a dance (which were mostly “sock hops”), or catch a movie staring Paul Newman or Robert Redford (hopefully both), or perhaps go out on a date with a “steady”  (boyfriend or girlfriend).

Afterwards, we would all try meet up at a local hamburger joint or pizza place and longingly place our food orders just before midnight.  You see, in those days my Catholic friends and I weren’t allowed to eat meat on Fridays for fear of going to hell if we did so.  That’s right…it was a “mortal sin” to eat meat on Friday, so we didn’t want to risk our souls by breaking this church law.  So we would wait to place our orders for hamburgers or pepperoni pizzas until about 11:45 pm, and tell our waiter or waitress not to bring our food until after the stroke of midnight.  This would immediately identify us as Catholics, and they knew not to bring our food until after the clock struck twelve.

One particular evening comes to mind.  We were all sitting around having burgers and fries about 12:05 am on a Saturday morning.  Bob came rushing in with the news he had learned that day in school, at Loyola University.  He said that the Pope and Bishops, who were gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council, were going to make sweeping changes to the church.  They were set to vote on two issues that would greatly impact our lives: the ban on eating meat on Fridays, and dropping the requirement that Mass be said in Latin.

To be honest with you, even discussing these topics seemed unreal back then.  There was no way that these things were ever going to change.  It was more likely to happen that we were going to send a man to the moon as our president had predicted.  Its hard to believe, but all of these things came true within just a few short years.

Thanks to the pope and the president, change was in the air…and it seemed unstoppable.

But before my twentieth birthday, both of my teenage idols would pass away.  My beloved Pope John XXIII, who had set the vision for renewal in the Roman Catholic Church, did not live to see all the changes that would come to pass as a result of the Second Vatican Council.  And President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated, his life and dreams cut short on a November afternoon in 1963.

Their visions would live on, but without their leadership many of the hopes and dreams that they inspired would never quite take hold.

Looking back on my teenage years, it really did seem like we almost reached “Camelot”…that mythical time and place when all was going to be made right with the world.  The words from the musical sum up what it was like for me to be coming of age in the early 1960’s: “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.”

(Photo above…my Holy Card Collection.  I know some kids saved baseball cards, but I collected holy cards including  one from 1959 of Pope John XXIII…my all time favorite pope.)

Stay tuned for my next blog: Idealism Dies Hard.

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Old Photo Stirs Up Powerful Childhood Memories

Tucked inside one of my birthday cards was this old photo which was taken on October 28, 1958.  I can remember the day very well.  It was an unusually warm  and sunny fall afternoon in Chicago as our eighth grade class lined up to process from our parochial school to our parish church just across the street.

That is me on the far left, holding a rose in my right hand and a streamer in my left.  That is Renee in back of me and Bernice across from me, and I can probably tell you the names of my other classmates as well.

My guess is that our class is leading the entire school over to church to honor Our Blessed Mother Mary during the month of October…the month of the Rosary.

Why this particular photo would end up in my mailbox here in Florida 57 years later is a mystery to me.  My friend Barb said that she had saved it all these years, and it was time for me to have it.  She wanted me to remember the days “way back when” we were young, and all the changes we have seen in our lifetime.

Receiving this old photo stirred up lots of powerful memories.  I remember that year like it was yesterday.  Being in eighth grade was the best.  We were “at the top of the heap”…the oldest kids in our school…enjoying our last year together before going to different high schools.  We had a lot of special activities and privileges that made us both happy and proud.  It was going to be a year to remember.

I think the nuns wanted to instill in us religious practices that would carry us safely through our teenage years and on into adulthood.  We began every school day in church attending Mass, and during the months of October and May we would say the Rosary out loud, together with our classmates, and ask the protection of our Mother Mary.  I remember also praying for the conversion of Russia and the fall of Communism.

This was 1958, and all the school children of Chicago would have weekly drills to practice what we would do in the event of a nuclear attack from Russia.  The sirens would wail and we would all duck under our desks and cover our heads to protect us from looking up into the glare of an atomic bomb if one landed near by.  We prayed that our President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower would keep our country safe and protect us from an all out nuclear war.

The year 1958 would prove to be a significant year in the life of Roman Catholics around the world.  On October 9th, Pope Pius X died, which meant that a new Pope would soon be elected.  After quite a few ballots, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was chosen.  He took the name Pope John XXIII.  I just checked the internet to find out the day of his election.  Oh my goodness.  He was elected on Oct. 28…the date of the photo embedded in this blog!  The good sisters must have organized a special procession to church where we would celebrate our new Holy Father.  I am sure that no one had any idea of how he would shake up the Church and the world.

Stay tuned for my next blog: How Pope John XXIII’s life and ministry impacted my growing faith.

 

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