The Sabbath is a good God-idea. This morning I went to Mass and afterwards wandered around Harvard Square, if not aimlessly then without any clear aim. I ended up in the Harvard Coop. There I granted myself a latte though I’m off the coffee for Lent. Sunday is, after all, the day of resurrection even in this season! I picked up 2010’s version of The Best Spiritual Writing as well as the The Best American Essays of 2009. And finally, I couldn’t resist getting a copy of The Female Brain. It made a good gift, but I’ll read it too as it seems this is a subject every man should know something about.
At 12 noon I was in the monastery of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist on Memorial Drive. I had been invited for mid-day prayer and a lunch in honor of the 70th birthday of one of the monks, a wonderful man whom I have been privileged to know for over a decade. The prayer was beautiful. The medieval-looking chapel is a spectacular haven of Sabbath peace. And the luncheon menu, chosen by the honoree, was simply marvelous: kentucky fried chicken, green beans casserole, baked potatoes, a cherry-coke jello salad and a Lady Baltimore birthday cake. In my new gluten-free environment, I ate everything but the cake. Good comfort food, all of it, as the monastery’s Superior pointed out.
Of course comfort food leads inevitably to a Sunday afternoon nap, thank God. And the books remain as future wonders to be explored. I’ll report later on what I learn about the female brain.
Today I spent the heart of the day with my mother – 80 years old with the expectations and energy of a 40-year-old – one niece and two nephews.
We were stuck on the B’s first – Best Buy and BJ’s – but ended up toward the end of the alphabet eating at Wendy’s. It was a graced moment to spend some time just being together, talking, receiving hugs (even during the meal!), playing “I spy”, and connecting deeply eye to eye. What a blessing we really can be to one another.
I ended the day seeing the new movie “The Lightning Thief” with a good friend. Moral: don’t steal from the gods, and if something of theirs is missing, you’d better find it and return it!
We don’t have to steal from God. God’s so occupied freely giving to us that our larceny, I’d bet, would hardly be noted. Today I felt that generous spirit echoed in members of my family. We truly experience the like everyday – and sometimes actually notice.
The Olympics opening ceremonies were broadcast tonight from Vancouver. Colorful, musical, international of course, and also proudly Canadian.
I came to them from visiting two friends living with uncertainty and illness. One is a monk, a brother, hospitalized for four weeks now. He was beaming with joy, even as he expressed freely the full range of his feelings as he faces massive changes in his life due to the limitations imposed by illness.
A second friend, husband and father, sits quietly among his loved ones, doctors trying to discern what has affected so quickly and massively his ability . . . to actively live.
A third friend, a US postal worker and a valued minister to youth and of parish spirituality, died today after a brave, confident struggle with lung cancer. He knew and loved many – and they him. He was at Mass even this past Sunday. Paul, good man and friend of Jesus, rest in peace!
And then at the end of the day, the pageantry of the 21st Olympiad’s opening ceremony celebrates for me the human spirit present in these three friends. The ceremonies included a moment of silence for the 21 year old Georgian athelete who tragically was killed there earlier today. For me that moment paid tribute also to my three friends whose lives has crossed mine with love and pain this day.
How does the saying go? “Oh, the humanity!”. At this moment those words make sense to me. Oh the length and breadth, the bravery, the faithfulness and constancy, oh the greatness of the human spirit.
We live. We die. We strive for the best. And in the striving lies our personal best, and our hope in God.