Thursday, February 23, 2006



I need to remind myself to be aware of each moment as it comes. I want to put my trust out there to relieve myself of the burden of suffering. I can do that by breathing, and knowing only that breath...for just that short moment. And yet, I can extend this joy by breathing and knowing...breathing and knowing...over and over again.

And I want to take refuge in Jesus. I have this image of Him and me looking across a green pasture. It is bordered on one side by a wall of old stone, dug up from the soil by generations of worriers before me, farmers. Behind us is a narrow dirt road, lined on each side by sugar maple trees - flaming in their red and orange autumn clothes. The odd birch tree that stands among them adds a mix of green.

There is a pleasant sound of leaves flickering in the slightest stir of air.

And the sun is warming, reaching deep down to my bones.

We sit there, He and I. We have our arms around each other's shoulder, like two childhood buddies who have not let adulthood shame them. And we look across the field to the mountains beyond.

Hawks criss-cross the sky, and there is the scent of fresh cut hay.

All we need to do is rest. The silence is our dialogue.

No thinking. Just being.

All is well.

This is enough for Him…

And all I ever want.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I added a link about hate today.

It's a website created to remember the survivors of the Holocaust, the Nazi campaign to eliminate the Jews of Europe and Russia. They also killed Gypsies, the handicapped, homosexuals and others they deemed undesirable and unfit to breathe.

Since I first learned about the Holocaust in high school, I still can't believe that this happened in plain sight, out in the open for the world to see.

And I used to think that this kind of thing could never happen again, but, really, when you look at world history, it is a repeating cycle of one group killing another.

The culprit: the delusion that we are different...because of religion...or skin color...or nationality...or sexuality. Suffering from this delusion, we then create a superior...and an inferior.
The antidote: love, and if you can't love, awareness...that everyone is an individual - not a race or a group.

I have seen tons of holocaust pictures. I've seen movies of bulldozers moving bodies into mass graves. I've seen pictures of frightened, dazed people...torn from their beds at night...and herded into cattle rail cars for a trip to the death camps. I even visited a concentration camp, Dachau, in Germany.

And at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., I saw an exhibit of thousands of shoes stripped from people, as they arrived in those camps and were methodically turned from individuals to numbers.

This stuff is never easy to look at. But at some point, maybe because of the sheer scale of the horror, the brain shuts off. To protect yourself, you become numb, steeled.

But then there's this photo -- above. It makes me shudder every time I look at it.

This woman tries to cover her child as a German SS officer aims his gun at them. There is no logic in her action. In the photo, off to the left, other rifles have just felled more victims. She can't think that her child will escape death.

No, at work here is just the pure instinct of a mother trying to protect her baby.

This picture is the best argument for love not hate.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Don't want to let February pass without a small tribute to a pioneer and legend of classic Rock-n-Roll: Buddy Holly.

Buddy died in the first hours of a bone cold, snowy February 3, 1959, along with stars Ritchie Valenz ("Donna") and the Big Bopper ("Chantilly Lace") in a small plane taking off from their gig in Clear Lake, Iowa. They were headed for their next stop on the infamous Winter Dance Party tour of the American Midwest.

This photo was taken from a backstage angle that night.

I wasn't even alive when he was making hits. Still, during a 50s revival in the 70s, I 'discovered' him.

I like Holly because of his wonderful "Rock-a-Billy" sound, that unique mixture of American country music and rock. He's one of the best in that genre, right up there with folks like the Everly Brothers and Gene Vincent.

Check out the link to the right, where there are a lot of good Holly tunes. I recommend clicking on Jukebox #6 to listen to "Think it Over."

Right before his death, he was venturing more into writing and producing. Indeed, the music he recorded himself in his NY apartment, and which he left behind, showed remarkable creativity -- advanced for that time period. The Beatles, the ubergroup of the 60s, who I think represent one of the mileposts in the progression of R&R, said that they were highly influenced by the sound of Holly.

Anyway, thanks for the music, Bud. If I get to 'heaven,' you're on the list of people I want to meet. After Jesus, of course.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow Day

Today, my world is white.  There’s close to two feet of snow on the ground now, and it’s still coming down – fast, driven sideways by the wind.

From the window, my view is obscured by drifts, but I can see that the world has shut down.  

No cars in the street…only the muffled sound of children making the most of this fresh coating of imagination.  With it, they’ll make castles and forts and pretend to fight long ago battles – but with snowballs not bullets.

I’m happy, warm…inside.  My morning newspaper was delivered in the wee hours sometime. It’s buried somewhere on my front path.

Who cares? I’ll read my book, the one I got for Christmas that I’ve been meaning to pick up and start.

I’m happy that the world has stopped, if just for a day. A forced period of rest, quiet.

I wish people everywhere could have a snow day.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The 60s, Part I: Memories of an American Catholic Boy

Seems the fog in my mind thickens as I log each new year, but these things I can still see:

  • Lots of “shoo-be-doo-be-doo” songs on the radio (no Beatles yet)

  • on the menu at the barber shop: crew cuts…or…an “Ivy League”

  • Dad’s white sox and loafers...and strong, hairy arms

  • Aunts biting (yes, aunts…not ants) the fat on my cheeks (they were driven by love…which I didn’t understand then…but do now)

  • The Hi-fi belting out The Tokens’ doowop classic “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

  • Me singing along: “a whim-a-way…a whim a way”

  • Woolworth’s photo booth

  • Jack & Jackie

  • The milkman, who, while we all slept, left us milk (all kinds of colors, too) and juice, cookies and other goodies. Kids on the block used the metal milk boxes outside their front doors to store baseball gloves (never baseball cards or the gum that came with the cards)

  • A man who came with his very own floor-wax machine—sometimes he gave us rides on it while he polished our floors

  • A man who sharpened things for a living. He drove a truck down the neighborhood streets, gonging his bell for people to bring out their knives

  • Sunday morning: waking up to the smell of bacon and finding pressed outfits, shined shoes, bowties, socks -- all ready for church

  • Mom's white gloves & a hat with fake, blue flowers on top
  • Sunday afternoon: The smell of whiskey and cigarettes...the aroma that came with kissing Aunt Gert & Uncle Dennis
Some stuff happening that I wasn’t aware of:
  • the brink of nuclear destruction…Castro/Cuba/Kruschev…the Berlin Wall

  • Americans suffering indignities -- barred from sitting at a cafĂ© lunch counter, voting, attending school with white kids
  • the Ku Klux Klan
  • the Boston Strangler

Monday, February 06, 2006

The 60s, P II: Memories of an American Catholic Boy

  • Matchbox racing cars and trucks for 99 cents

  • 45 RPMs for 45 cents

  • JFK shot
  • Sunday night: homework checked

  • More Sunday night: a roast beef dinner, then Disney and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom on television, and then bed…no exceptions

  • That sick feeling in your stomach knowing you had to go to school the next day and you might get smacked in the head by Sister Ferocious, RSM

  • Desserts: Duncan Hines cakes, Jello, boxed eclairs

  • Earning 25 cents from Auntie Ann for vacuuming up the stairs (I still have that quarter)

  • S&H stamps...but also food stamps

  • In school, the nuns asking which one of us would abandon Christ if Communists with machine guns burst into the school room and demanded that all Christians stand up in order to be executed

  • RFK shot, MLK shot,

  • Riots, protests

  • Worrying that the North Vietnamese were going to bomb our town

  • Worrying that the Chinese laundryman was really a Communist and that he would snatch me and smuggle me back to China

  • Tears streaming down my face from the cold wind, as my sled plunged through the snow on 'suicide hill’

  • Peeing in my snow suit because my hands were frozen, and I couldn’t open the fly buttons

  • Watching men walk on the moon on our TV

  • Taking the public bus, at age nine, alone, to babysit for my Aunt who lived on downtown Main Street

  • Getting government cheese…and eating it

  • Eight-hour trips to visit Granny and Gramps in the country, along winding small roads, six kids rammed into a two-door fastback Chevy Impala, the 8-track of “Roger Williams” playing over and over again

  • Hung on our refrigerator door, newspaper pictures of kids from faraway lands like Bangladesh with bellies bloated from malnutrition, pictures that were supposed to make me finish my dinner

  • Grandma's amber-colored "medicine," which, curiously, she took in a high-ball glass, mixed with ice cubes

  • The statue of Virgin Mary at my childhood parish, St. Kevin's Church. On the way home from school, I stopped in to church and stared at her for one whole hour. She winked at me: a miracle. Despite my devotion, my Mom hit me with a wooden spoon when I got home because I'd been AWOL.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Prayer from an American

Lord, eternal spirit, voice in my soul,
I’m not likely to slow down long enough today to take much notice…
of what’s going on…
inside of me…
or with my friends or family…
and certainly not the guy I pass on the street.

You see, I’m busy working; it’s what I like to do.

And, I’m also driving in my car…
and talking on my cell phone…
And when I get home, I need to put in some time on my computer,
and I know I’ll have my head phones on listening to music, too…
and then I’ll do some shopping,
go to the gym…
grab a bite…
and probably watch TV…before hitting the sack.

I’ve been accused of being brash, pushy...but it’s really because I want to get things done – and fast – not because I’m a bad person. So, please don’t think I’m horrible when I ask this, Lord, but here goes:

Considering how much I’ve got on my plate, would you mind speaking louder when you talk to me?

Usually, I can only hear you (and I’ve got to say, it’s not very often) very late at night, while I’m trying to sleep…or sometimes even when I am dreaming…
or when I am in church…
in short, all those times that I’m supposed to be quiet – and everybody else is, too.

But, hey, I want to keep in touch because, well, because I love you. You mean more to me than anything. I really mean that, although I'd be lying if I said I didn't like my house, and my car, too.

Basically, when the chips are down, you're the one to go to for help and comfort. I'm no dummy; this I know.

And I believe that you want me to help people everywhere, not because I'm supposed to, but because it'll help me become a better person. You want me to be as compassionate as I possibly can – because you, my creator, are compassionate.

So, Lord, if you don't crank up the volume on those whispers, I won't remember to do all that stuff.

Wait. Did you just say something to me?

- Don Munro