After graduating on Sunday, which consisted of a wonderful time with family and friends, I have spent the last few days in Appleton, Wisconsin, with Hattie and her family. Hattie and her parents work during the day, which leaves Ian, her brother, and me to do little odds and ends around the house in preparation for Ian’s Graduation (from high school) Party which will be this coming Saturday. I do not mind the work; in fact, I appreciate it because it is both a change of pace from academic and extra-curricular work (interfaith leadership, UU leadership, etc.). Upon reflection, these odds and ends are neither odd nor ends: they are the means through which I can evaluate and even out, or balance, my psyche, heart, and soul, as I move into this summer of great transition.
I want to reflect on one of these activities, as it has had a rather powerful impact on me over the past few days: Cleaning Gutters. The Bertschausen Home has a window on the second floor that measures about seven inches fully opened (or at least that was as far as I could make it open). By crawling through this space one could make it onto the roof, where the gutters not rigged with leaf guards could be accessed. I looked at the window with the ladle like scoop that Roger lent me to use in my hand, then down at my 6’1″, 180 lbs. frame. I repeated this a few times, as if by magic this would make these two pieces seem more compatible. Now or never. I stepped on the chair and crawled head first through the window. Read the rest of this entry
A couple days ago, I commented on the state of transitions in this country, namely how we, as a collective people, view and prepare for changes in our lives. In that article, I discussed some concerns I had about how our social structure fails to embrace this change and effectively prepare individuals who are going through transitions, ranging from coming of age to graduation to death. My hope is to reflect in this article on ways to make this transition more beneficial for all.
I write this as I just completed my last final exams at DePaul just over an hour ago. It is a time of great transition in my life and therefore this topic is of personal importance, as well. The concern I have with the issue at hand is that I feel that the transitions we face in life our not fully being embraced and recognized in all of the beauty and complexity they possess. It is an odd occurrence because innovation and change is appreciated and encouraged quite a lot in the marketplace in this country.
I could hear my heart thumping, racing wildly, twisting and turning uncomfortably, wanting to get out. I squirmed in my seat, attempting to find that right position where I could both see, but also hide from what I was witnessing. My thoughts were all over the place, non-linear, even illogical at times. And my spirit was distressed, pained by the many words and experiences from the night. The concepts of patience and universal respect were hard for me to maintain last night as I sat in Cortelyou Commons with dozens of other DePaul students, listening to Ann Coulter discuss politics, religion, and other social issues.
Her talk was entitled, “What Your Professor Will Never Teach You,” a purposefully suggestive title, but relevant as some students at DePaul, namely the College Republicans who invited her, believe that 100% of Political Science professors at this school are either liberal or “something other than conservative.” While I am a bleeding heart liberal, any allegation of that nature inspires me to reflect on both its validity and what implications such a lopsided Political Science Department might have on the students within those classes (and if the trend is contagious, students from around the country). Ultimately, there is a much more serious and less logistical reflection to be had; I ask myself how do I, as a person of faith, react and respond to a person like Ann Coulter and the views that she expressed so forcefully last night.
I woke up Friday morning quite distressed to the remnants of a dream that was slowly being enveloped by the reality of the environment around me and the comfort of loved ones refreshing me to the new day. But, I was still sad, crying even, at times without end, an experience both rare and frightening upon reflection. While the substance of the dream may have been slightly unrelated to the substance that I was upset about, and while the feelings, the tears, have now relinquished and evaporated from my face and heart, I still feel an odd need to reflect on those emotions that came from this dream a few mornings ago.
The dream was about Hattie’s maternal grandparents, but mainly her grandfather Phil who if you ever have the blessing of meeting him you will find him to be a funny and gracious man, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. In the dream, Phil was pretty sick and it was taking a toll on me, although I was surrounded by his family and loved ones. There was not much more content to the dream besides that because I recall waking up with tears flowing down my cheeks and a deep whole growing in the place where the memories of my maternal grandfather never fully blossomed.
“This article was originally published on the DePaul Interfaith website on May 9th, 2011″
Late at night on Sunday, May 1, a text message notified me to turn on the news, if I wasn’t already watching it. So, I did. In bold type, which I assume many will never forget, the headline read, “Bin Laden is Dead.”
I froze, took a double take, and then it hit me: an era was over. This era was the narrative of terrorism as symbolized through the face of Osama bin Laden throughout the past couple decades. My immediate feeling was disbelief, and then it rushed over me; the memory of my seventh grade social studies class with Ms. Goodwin watching the news with my fellows students; the memory of sitting on my neighbor’s stoop that night over a lit candle, asking the hard questions and thinking about the even more difficult answers to the days events; memories of war and death followed, hitting me in the face with blood and screams of agony; all of these memories washed over me like an ice cold shower of suppressed pain. Read the rest of this entry