Fathers Day Insight

For months and even years I’ve been praying for direction. Today as I meditated and now as I mindfully walk along the Allegany river near St. Bonaventure University the answers seem to flow. All of my life I have wanted to teach, to help and heal people. I recall making tests up for my brother Mark using my Dad’s typewriter. Mark was my first student. At 19 and in US Navy recruit training I was chosen education petty officer for our company. I’ve often wondered why I was chosen. Many of my shipmates were college graduates and I had only completed my freshman year of college at that point. Later I attended US Navy Corps School and served as a corpsman in labor and delivery, newborn nursery and later a surgical assistant and ambulance driver. After active duty I briefly pursued nursing education then leaving academic pursuits and eventually finding employment in education first as a school bus driver and custodian then returning to the classroom to finish the bachelors degree. For the past almost twenty-six years I’ve taught and worked as a technology director. But what am I really? Am I a geek, a technology purveyor, an entrepreneur who helps others solve technology problems? Is there more?
This morning an insight came and it crowded out everything else. At my core I love to help people. I love God and all that might be defined mystic and spiritual. I was the altar boy who fell asleep in front of the church door waiting for Fr. Pollard to open for 7 o’clock mass. I was the boy who wanted to go to the minor seminary at twelve years of age. I am the teacher who loves opening up opportunities for challenging students too.
Four years ago I returned to graduate school at St. Bonaventure University and graduated at the top of my class in Educational Leadership. For awhile I actively sought administrative positions at other school districts. I got some interviews but all proved to be dead ends or so I thought. Frustration set in and I began to question what I had accomplished. Eventually at the direction of a total stranger I began to meditate. Five minutes twice a day led to ten and eventually fifteen and twenty minutes. Changes in my outlook and healing invited me to consider the power of this ancient practice. An invitation from my daughter to take up yoga caused additional changes and now almost eighteen months later I sense a new direction for my life.
Not in the last thirty years have I seen so much stress and tension in education. Everywhere teachers, principals, students and parents too are stressed and frustrated with a system gone awry from high stakes testing. Then too a society in flux adapting to the second decade of the twenty-first century. Global markets, climate change, redefined roles have created chaos that is not easily solved. Old answers don’t work and so we look for new answers to the questions caused by this frenzy.
My practice of meditation and yoga have brought me peace. My prayer life has deepened and invited me to reach out. I’m pursuing my calling as a Secular Franciscan and a teacher and today I see that this earlier call could’ve been the direction I have been looking for. Francis responded to a call to rebuild the church of his day which had fallen in to ruin. The church or better yet the community of today has fallen into ruin. The call I’m discerning today is how and by what means can we rebuild the community or communities in which we find ourselves. I think the answer lies in stillness and contemplation. The world needs mystics and contemplatives from all cultures and faith communities. I hope you will join me in silence, stillness and prayer for our earth and its people.

Holy Peace

I took this picture as I was walking up the trail to Holy Peace Chapel at Mt. Irenaeus this morning. It was a beautiful morning and one of the nicest of the summer. Today’s readings were very meaningful for me. Psalm 63 was read after the first reading and it really embodied how I’ve been feeling lately. I almost walked out of Mass after I got there as I felt a bit low and troubled.

O God, you are my God– for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water. So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life; my lips offer you worship! I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name. My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise, with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you! When I think of you upon my bed, through the night watches I will recall That you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek my life will come to ruin; they shall go down to the depths of the earth! They shall be handed over to the sword and become the prey of jackals! But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by the Lord shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be shut!

I stayed at Mass and this Psalm along with the blog about Paradox of Peace that came from the Merton Institute a couple of weeks ago stayed with me. After Mass and brunch I stopped and visited some Franciscan friends and then I drove north to Abbey of the Genesee. I spent Vespers and Compline with the community. I visited the store and bought Thomas Merton’s, “The Way of Chuang Tzu,” along with fruit cake and some Monks brownies for my friends. Between Vespers and Compline I went to the chapel and sat in silence inviting the presence of the Holy Spirit and seeking answers. Just before Compline while looking at one of Merton’s books in the store Brother Jerome approached and asked if I’d like to talk. I came here seeking answers today and the improbable coincidence of an invitation to talk by a monk I’d never visited with before floored me. I’m going back tomorrow and sit with Brother Jerome. Maybe his counsel is that voice of God that I’ve been seeking.