Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Message and the Messenger

I, like so many others, have been caught up in the excitement of Pope Francis' visit to the US. The media frenzy surrounding him has provided a rare opportunity for a moral compass and voice of conscience to take center stage where these values generally take a back seat to politics, rhetoric, and division. The Francis effect is more than religious zealotry. The mostly universal respect felt by the crowds of Catholics and non-Catholics for the Pontiff is rooted in the recognition that he is an authentic spiritual leader who is in touch with the people and the times. Pope Francis is the real thing. His message on the environment, immigration, and the poor call us all to consciousness. His example is as Christ-like as I have ever seen in my lifetime.  He is radical and revolutionary.  The complexity of modern society and the divide between the haves and have nots has cast many adrift without a lifeline.  Francis is making it cool to care. He is reminding us that we have a responsibility to each other and to the planet. He is calling us to be better human beings.
He is challenging us to take a moral gut check.
Forgiveness, Charity, Humility, Compassion, and the "Golden Rule" are points on his compass.  Francis is giving us the vocabulary once again to speak from a deeper place in a spiritual language that is grounded in the human experience.
While I yearn for women to have a greater role in the Church and am constantly frustrated by my own second-class status in a patriarchal system, I am also encouraged by the shift in tone on many other issues affecting the Church.  This is a refreshing change.
It feels so good to love this Pope. It was utterly thrilling to hear him speak of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton while addressing the Congress. In Catholic circles, these names are familiar. To hear them being discussed on CNN was stunning. This week, mysticism and sainthood became newsworthy and relevant.
The conversation has changed. Words like dialogue and encounter are once again in our vocabulary thanks to Pope Francis.
His down to earth and direct style is reaching people in a way that makes the Papacy relatable. Perhaps we have Benedict to thank for this. By contrast, he seemed authoritarian, removed, and privileged. in his Prada slippers.  Pope Francis is the opposite.  His Jesuit training and spirituality inform his every action.
Earlier in the summer, I read the Pope's Encyclical, "On Care For Our Common Home."
I will admit, it is the first Encyclical I have ever read.  It is extremely readable and full of thought provoking ideas particularly on the impact of technology.
I highly recommend it.
We have in Pope Francis, a scholar and teacher whose wisdom and spirituality are a gift to us.
I am grateful to have lived to experience his message and I continue to process what this means to me in my own life.  Francis has awakened me from a dullness of heart and stirred my inner spiritual calling which has been dormant for some time.  He walks his talk.  I am reminded of the quote by St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach the Gospel, if necessary, use words." A mighty challenge for us all.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hobie and Lido - In Memoriam

You came to us in 2007
Two furry, white bundles of joy.
Too tiny to make it up or down the stairs on your own
You won our hearts and became ambassadors of the neighborhood.
Greeters - flopping on your back on the sidewalk and curling up
on our laps  -
Snuggling and spooning in bed- you instantly became  part of our family.

You were from a litter of 13 pure white kitties
so tiny you sucked on each other's ears for comfort.
We adopted you together because you were
Lido's shocking, violent death
by a speeding, careless driver two years ago.
Heart breaking and horrifying
there on the side of the road a loyal sentinel sat by the side of his brother.
 Hobie, left alone for the first time, mourned and adapted to his strange, solo life.

As you floated off today in my arms
I stroked you behind your ears
and thanked you
for bringing us so much happiness.
A far gentler death than your brother's
you passed peacefully, released from your misery.
Lido and Hobie together in "Kitty Heaven."

Savona will never be the same without you.

It is an empty house tonight.

Rest in Peace, Hobie.