Pause, Breathe, and Take Stock 2017-5

It’s 5:30 am. I wake up to the news every morning. National Public Radio.

Time was when I heard a heartwarming story, something interesting and scientific, or just a clear-sailing traffic report. In the last ten days, I start my day with worrying and wondering what’s next. It’s Wedmesday morning, and I failed to start my week counting my blessing.  There are so many in my life, despite the despondency I feel about our government.  And yes, I’m still listening and trying to understand. I’m listening to people, I’m listening to FoxNews, I’m listening to right-wing talk media.   I even visited Brietbart.

The first Facebook post I read was from my friend Sharni, from Australia:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” (Martin Niemöller)

  Next I open my email and find this from my Pastor.


 January 30, 2017

“When did we see you a stranger and welcome you?” – Matthew 25:38

Over the past several days, many brother bishops have spoken out in defense of God’s people. We are grateful for their witness. Now, we call upon all the Catholic faithful to join us as we unite our voices with all who speak in defense of human dignity.

The bond between Christians and Muslims is founded on the unbreakable strength of charity and justice. The Second Vatican Council in Nostra Aetate urged us to sincerely work toward a mutual understanding that would “promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” The Church will not waiver in her defense of our sisters and brothers of all faiths who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors.

The refugees fleeing from ISIS and other extremists are sacrificing all they have in the name of peace and freedom. Often, they could be spared if only they surrendered to the violent vision of their tormentors. They stand firm in their faith. Many are families, no different from yours or mine, seeking safety and security for their children. Our nation should welcome them as allies in a common fight against evil. We must screen vigilantly for infiltrators who would do us harm, but we must always be equally vigilant in our welcome of friends.

The Lord Jesus fled the tyranny of Herod, was falsely accused and then deserted by his friends. He had nowhere to lay His head (Lk. 9:58). Welcoming the stranger and those in flight is not one option among many in the Christian life. It is the very form of Christianity itself. Our actions must remind people of Jesus. The actions of our government must remind people of basic humanity. Where our brothers and sisters suffer rejection and abandonment we will lift our voice on their behalf. We will welcome them and receive them. They are Jesus and the Church will not turn away from Him.
Our desire is not to enter the political arena, but rather to proclaim Christ alive in the world today. In the very moment a family abandons their home under threat of death, Jesus is present. And He says to each of us, “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (MT 25:40).

I message my nephew’s wife, who is a Muslim here on a green-card.  She grew up in Canada and must return to Toronto soon to renew her Passport.  She’s okay, her friends and family are okay, no one she knows lives in Quebec.  Still, she worries.  Will she be able to get back home once she and the kids leave the country?

Lastly, I read “5 things you should know that are going on in the world today…

“Number 1:  Severe malnutrition in northern Nigeria worsens, as children under five almost entirely disappear…”

I guess I should be thankful that my angst is, well, angst, and around the world people are with me.  [tweetthis]Who is with the Nigerian mother and child?[/tweetthis]

Now I’ve worked myself into another kind of dither.  I have so much, and I’m complaining.  Things I consider little blessings that I take for granted are unheard of luxuries to some.

Well, here goes, anyways; a list of gratitudes and blessing:

  1. Social media that helps me stay connected.  I feel supported and loved by many friends around the world.  And, I’m learning from those who have a different opinion.
  2. My “text-book-club” group.  Together we are discussing INFINITE JEST.  Not an easy book, but fun to discuss via a text group with the same name.  I’m behind the other two readers, reading only 1 hour each day. (Actually, I’m listening on Audible, another app for which I am grateful.)
  3. Chicago Writers Association and our first annual Chicago Bus tour.  We visited Algren’s home, the Cliffhangers (hangout for writers and other artists,) and The Billy Goat (yes, of Saturday Night Live fame.) I got to know a few new authors, and hope to stay connected.
  4. A sweet part-time office manager job where I am appreciated daily.
  5. A week with five grandchildren while their parents went on a cruise.
  6. Movie night with Loved-One: we saw Hidden Figures, which reminded me that we really have come a long way.
  7. A new snowblower, a gift from our children, and no snow for the whole of January.
  8. More food than I need, warmth in abundance, and more love than I deserve.
A Lovely view from “Cliffhangers”

Today I’ll interview a man who started a steel drum band and a woman who wants to keep the positive flame alive post-Women’s march.  Already, my day is looking up.

What’s on your gratitude list this week?  As always your list reminds me of more blessings in my own life.