Count your blessings

We celebrate Thanksgiving once a year, but we can be grateful every day. Even when things go wrong, possibly in a big way, there are things for which to give thanks. Gratitude can be a practice that we repeat regularly, rather than just a holiday or event. Nightly prayers for our grandkids end with them…

Magical thinking

Some incidents from chaplaincy are unforgettable. One was watching a woman get cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) — three times over the course of a day. Twice, she was resuscitated. Death won the last match-up, but not without a fight. Before the attending doctor instructed the code team to stop, the woman’s abdominal area looked like a…

You are the hero of your own story

Are you living authentically? Someday, someone will reflect on that question. However, since the person will be speaking at your funeral, you won’t be there. We often wait until someone dies before we tell them how much they have meant to us. The word eulogy derives from Greek and means praise, although people generally associate…

Actions speak louder than labels

As I walked in a crosswalk, a driver stared at me and then rolled right in front of me. If I hadn’t stopped, the car would have hit me.  It’s possible the phone she was using distracted her. As she passed, I noticed the license plate’s ironic message: Choose Life. Apparently, there are limits to…

Vulnerability to violence

Some of my memories from the early 60s are clear. Records and newspapers can confirm public events; unverifiable is what they meant to me. Mourning President Kennedy’s assassination: November 1963–a worldwide tragedy but heartbreaking and personal for Irish Catholic immigrants, like my parents–“He was one of us.” Watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show: Feb…

A Tale of Two Johns: Leaving a Legacy

In reading the eulogies for 81 year old Senator John McCain, what resonated was how he faced his final fight. He knew his brain cancer carried a death sentence. He did not deny or avoid, but planned for the end. He spent time inviting special people to memorialize him. Given his seeming pragmatic approach, he…