Fifty-eight years

That’s not a long time for many, but it’s twelve more years than my father got and unless tonight is my last night I stand to have more time yet to live and make a difference. When I look around and steadily climbing energy prices and a government teetering on the brink of more tax relief for the rich and let the poor fend for themselves I’m inclined to give up. In the last fifty-eight years there have been a lot of changes. Most of them very good and a few maybe not so good, but on balance we’re better than we were before. I’m grateful to my Mom and Dad who made this opportunity possible and in the last week as I’ve thought about my birthday I’ve thought back and wondered what they might have been thinking in the first week of December 1952. They were both children of the Great Depression and my Dad was a veteran of World War II though he never saw any combat. Nonetheless, they lived through trying times. They were both twenty-six years old. A couple of kids I might call them now and I was their first child.

First born children are all a bit like guinea pigs. No one is ever adequately prepared by school or any other experience to raise children and the first one always bears the brunt of the ignorance. Despite all that I had a good life. December 8, 1952 was my special day and I arrived at 5:58 am according to the telegram my Dad sent. I was delivered by an uncle I never met in a hospital called Miserecordia in Manhattan. I was the first grandson in the family. I was preceded by three grand-daughters in two different families.

I’m hoping this year is a snow day. I used to get the day off automatically when I attended Catholic grammar school as it is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I’ve always had an innate Marian devotion. Blue is my favorite color and Ave Maria is one of my favorite hymns. Forty years ago I registered for the draft and less than two years later I was in a United States Navy uniform. The only parts of my life I really disliked were the parts I was afraid of and when I got over my fear of them I enjoyed them too.

I have no way of knowing how many more days or hours I will have left but I know that even the hairs of my head are numbered in someone’s book. It’s cold outside tonight and the snow is falling just like it does most years in December, but I’m warm here in my own home and I am filled with gratitude for my parents, my family and my life.


Ave Maria

Long a favorite of mine is this short prayer. Today I carried a rosary in my pocket for protection from darkness. St. Francis had a special devotion to Our Lady. The mother of Jesus holds a special place in the Roman Catholic Church. It’s the missing element in fundamental Protestantism. Why this mystical element is removed is puzzling. Women are central to creation. The Jewish Ruach Hakodesh is a feminine spirit. The Jews fully appreciated the mystical significance of women in the creation. Women are relegated to lesser roles in many of the world’s religions despite the fact that if we didn’t have women we wouldn’t have any children. Men aren’t made to bear or even to raise children. Women are the nurturers. There are feminine elements in men as there are masculine elements in all women, but women excel at nurture.

Mary was the ultimate woman having born the Christ who came into the world not so much to save as to demonstrate how we were and are to live in relationship with each other. The world killed Christ as it did Gandhi, Martin Luther King, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and others who chose to model and follow the example of Christ. Sarah Brightman does a splendid rendition of the Ave Maria. The monks at Abbey of the Genesee end their compline prayer with a special prayer to Mary.


Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum