Category Archives: Love

Psst! Did You Hear the One About the Pope?


i’m guessing that for the part of the country that is outside of the ny, pa, dc area the fact that the pope was in the u.s. was just a headline somewhere. but in the middle of the tri-cities of his visit, there was a popenato of epic proportions.

here in philadelphia there was the typical mixture of excitement and grousing and at times the grousing out-shouted the excitement 4 to 1. now, that may have been a result of the stupid things city officials said in the run up, like “treat this as a severe storm event (which translated means to stay the hell home)” or that the secret service coordinated a lockdown situation that paralyzed a good portion of the city, or that at times there seemed to be no logical coordination between the secret service, public transportation and city officials.

whether the event lived up to expectations or broke records, it seems that the only measure worth talking about is whether pope francis can successful lead his church in a direction that brings people back. it’s no secret that participation in the roman catholic church has been dropping off – due mostly to (finally) the public airing of the horrors perpetrated by the church and their continued failure to not only acknowledge them but right them.

i was raised in the catholic church – 12 years of catholic schooling, followed by 30 years of a tenuous relationship where c and i participated in the church only to raise our children with some kind of tradition. but as the same sunday sermons from decades ago continued on as an opportunity for priests to berate the crowd for disobedience with the edits of the church—oddly enough only centered around issues of sexuality and not morality, most of which have to do with controlling women — i transitioned from not listening to drifted away. then, like most people i know, when the horrors of the sex-abuse scandal and systematic cover up hit the headlines i decided i was completely done with the roman catholic church.

in order to even stay with the church for as many decades as i had, required me to recite the mantra: “render unto ceasar what is ceasar’s and under god what is god’s”. meaning: ignore church bullshit and concentrate only on the lessons of christian tradition that matter: love one another and take care of one another.

then along comes pope francis. there has been much written about his life and how he has lived the teachings of christianity and it seems that he is carrying that into his leadership of the church. and to a large extend that’s true, certainly his words are a much more thoughtful message that has to do with love and forgiveness, mercy and inclusiveness not to mention just taking care of one another.
and then… well, then it’s just more business as usual. his inspiring words were followed by a visual of a cathedral filled with white men and the visual of seminarians and local priests, deacons and bishops – all men. men who ignore or distain women while dressed in dresses and funny hats. it all just looked so irrelevant.

sure, the pope was careful to include women in his words, but i think that’s because without them (the slave class) the church cannot function so it seemed like that was more about protecting an investment than sending a message of inclusion. and here in philadelphia there was the additional message from a hard-liner, perpetually ornery archbishop chaput who chose to use this stage to issue a ridiculous remark about the only real function of sex is to procreate, ignoring all the other more relevant messages that could and should have emanated from his moment in the spotlight.

and for all of its moralistic preaching about sexuality what is the true origin of priestly celibacy? don’t answer jesus ‘cuz that’s not it. property. and money. no married priests then no families to support and no nasty legal battles about rights of inheritance. the true reasoning is not high and mighty.

in his defense, pope francis has accomplished a lot of revolutionary things within the church, not the least of which is cleaning up the vatican bank (you want to know something about real scandal? read god’s bankers by gerald posner).

listen, i’m all for carrying on ancient traditions and rituals, in fact very much so when those traditions involve rituals where a family and a church family are able to share meaningful moments together. but when the trappings of a religion far outweigh its reason for being, i’m out.

francis may be delivering the right message, but he’s stuck delivering it in the wrong container.

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Filed under catholic, lies, Love, politics, religion, scandal

Every Moment


often in this life we need to slow down and remind ourselves that the moment we are currently in needs to be consciously attended to, savored, absorbed. easier said than done certainly, but if you make up your mind, you can find yourself in the middle of a moment that will bring you lasting joy every time you replay it in your mind.

i was able to have a second one of those moments a couple of weeks ago with one of our daughters. okay, granted it was kind of an easy moment for the taking – being with her as she chose her wedding dress – still, i think we’ve all seen and heard this experience turning disastrous.

when our oldest daughter shopped for her wedding dress, she asked her future mother-in-law and me to accompany her. she preferred to choose a dress herself and without the pressure of an attendant or an entourage and ended up buying the first dress she tried on. not to say she grabbed something and ran, but to say that she knew herself well enough to know what her choice would be. i worried about her buying the first dress she tried on and encouraged her to try on other dresses, but when she put the first one back on, it was clear that was the dress. it’s so odd to say, but if you keep your mind open as an observer, you really can know exactly when your daughter has chosen the perfect image of herself.

i was afraid at the time that my lasting memory of her choosing a dress would be overshadowed by the worry that was hanging over every bit of my thinking, which was that she was planning a wedding mere months after her diagnosis of cm leukemia. it was so tough to push away the thought that were her future outcome to be not good, this dress might become a symbol of stabbing sadness instead of overwhelming joy. it took every bit of my years of acting training to hide what i was thinking at the time.

fast forward to now. our second daughter is planning her wedding and scheduled a wedding dress shopping day. like her sister, she had a vision of a dress she wanted and a vision of how she wanted her day to go. she asked for a champagne breakfast with a couple of friends, her sister and me (daddy was nice enough to come along as designated driver in exchange for breakfast since he was verboten from seeing the dress).

at the salon, she tried on the very dress she came to that salon to see. it looked spectacular on her! i thought how funny it was that again, one of our daughters picked the first dress she tried on. but since there were still 45 minutes left on the appointment time, the attendant brought her other dresses to try. every one of them looked beautiful on her, but none rivaled the first one. then the attendant suggested something completely out of the box, which was a skirt and bodice combo that is modern but still somewhat traditional, interesting and edgy. her sister was the first to notice how e’s demeanor changed and saw right away that this would be the choice. i was unconvinced about the dress but tried to project neutrality since i firmly believe that my role was as an observer, not an influencer. the attendant encouraged e to go out into the bigger room and look at herself in the huge mirror. i was the last one into the large room and saw her just as she turned around and saw herself in the floor to ceiling mirror and was struck by the sight. trust me, out of nowhere and without a thought of becoming emotional at all, i teared up.

in that moment i didn’t see a dress, or a bride even – what i saw was our grown daughter looking like her happiest self as a young woman dressed to greet the partner she has chosen to share her life with.

i also realized that this was the last time i would ever have that moment in my life and made a mental note to just savor it.
making it all even better was the fact that i was standing next to our oldest daughter who is still happily married, cancer free and about to celebrate the five year anniversary of her bone marrow transplant.
moments that are worth savoring.

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Filed under advice, family, image, Love, marriage, Parent, tradition, wedding, women

Inspired Independence Day Words

I thought a lot about what to write in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage and its proximity to our national Independence Day holiday and then read what Harold Jackson of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote. I think he says it all.

Ruling shouldn’t change right to religious freedom
HAROLD JACKSON @harjerjac
Were he alive today, I believe my younger brother who lived in San Francisco would have married his longtime partner, with whom he had lived for several years, long before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage nationally.
Being a Christian, as was my brother, I would not have recognized that union as a Bible-blessed marriage sanctioned by Scripture. But as an American who believes this nation was founded on the promises of freedom in the Constitution, I would have accepted the right of him and his partner to be a committed couple with all the legal guarantees granted to heterosexual spouses. I would welcome them in my home, invite them to my church, and love them as my kin.
I can’t say that I have always felt that way. My brother and I grew up in a different time, when most homosexuals who wanted to succeed in life kept that part of themselves hidden. I was in college before I found out that one of my favorite Sunday school teachers when I was a child was gay. Apparently, so long as he didn’t do anything that might be construed as attracting undue attention, he was accepted just like any other upstanding member of the congregation. In retrospect now, I think of how tortured his life must have been in trying to always present an image that wasn’t really true.
That was before gay men and women came out of the closet. Today, gay couples hardly get a second glance as they stroll down streets hand in hand, embrace in movie theaters, and, depending on the church, pray together in pews. Many are also getting married in churches that believe biblical references to homosexuality as sin are either misinterpreted or somehow no longer apply. God will make the ultimate ruling on that. In the meantime, churches that do not believe they should be required to marry gays are wondering if the Supreme Court decision will force them to do just that. It shouldn’t.
Religious freedom was one of the most important reasons, if not the most important reason, that so many colonists left Europe to establish a new home in America. It’s why the very First Amendment to the Constitution both forbids the establishment of a state religion and guarantees the free exercise of religious practices. That means the same Constitution that the Supreme Court cited to remove all prohibitions of gay marriage can be cited by churches, synagogues, temples, and other religious institutions that want to continue to place restrictions on whom they will marry.
I don’t know if my brother would have wanted a church wedding. He died in 1996 of AIDS, having kept his illness secret for years. To admit the disease would have required him to admit other secrets that, 20 years ago, he didn’t feel he could. I will always be sorry about that.
I’m glad that gay couples today no longer have to live secret lives. The Supreme Court says they also can marry. But it is important that the court did not invalidate religious objections to gay marriage. That keeps the constitutional separation of church and state intact, which, as I understand it, is also what the Bible prescribes. The Good Book also tells us to love everyone as we love ourselves, and to leave the final judgment of each of us up to God.
Harold Jackson is editorial page editor for The Inquirer. hjackson@phillynews.com  

May we all celebrate Independence Day together!

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Filed under courage, Heroes, holiday, Love, patriotism, politics, religion

Where There is Love


the news has been filled with a lot of tough stories, what with all the strife abroad, the protests here at home and the natural disasters around the globe. but in the middle of all of that, we got a huge dose of “awwwwww…”

our daughter e and her boyfriend became engaged to be married. we knew that her boyfriend was going to propose to her because we spoke to him, like with did with our other daughter’s boyfriend, and told them they needed to come and speak to us before proposing. considering that both couples were already living together before they got engaged, asking for the boyfriend to come and speak to us was clearly an antiquated ritual. still, we clung to it because it gives us a chance to have a special moment with their boyfriend and officially welcome him into our family. we also get the fun of being in on a big secret and who doesn’t enjoy that?

e’s group of friends have this established ritual of throwing a surprise engagement party right after the engagement, so they were all poised for the big night last saturday. unfortunately, the party got a little too big to hold where it was originally scheduled, so it was moved to our house. it was a little hectic, but e’s friends brought food and drink and smiles.

what a happy, exciting night!

so now e and h begin the first tough test of their relationship: planning a wedding. so far they’re a good team, but we wouldn’t have expected anything less. it’s already interesting to see their ideas come together and in the end to see how they present themselves as a couple.

love is a beautiful thing. and when people you love express their love, well, life is more wonderful than usual.

sometimes a dose of love is all you need to put life in perspective.

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Filed under family, Love, manners, marriage, Parent

Auld Lang Syne

new year’s eve is such a strange tradition — this way of staying up to usher in what for any other day would be just another day. But, apparently we humans have been doing this for centuries so who am I to part with tradition.

c and I don’t go out on new year’s eve and we’ve always had a tough time convincing friends that they would want to come out somewhere with us (even when we offer a comfy place to stay overnight). so, over the years c and I have made our own fun on new year’s eve: enjoying a evening of hors d’oeuvres, champagne and dancing in the kitchen. c is a very good dj. we’re usually asleep by five minutes after midnight though.

since visiting scotland, i have learned that edinburgh is home to Hogmanay (hog-mah-NAY), a rousing Scottish new year’s celebration, making it one of the best places in the world to celebrate new year’s eve. Here’s a description from infoplease.com:

“One of the traditions of hogmanay is “first-footing.” Shortly after midnight on New Year’s eve, neighbors pay visits to each other and impart New Year’s wishes. Traditionally, First foots used to bring along a gift of coal for the fire, or shortbread. It is considered especially lucky if a tall, dark, and handsome man is the first to enter your house after the new year is rung in. The Edinburgh Hogmanay celebration is the largest in the country, and consists of an all-night street party.”

I can tell you that after visiting Edinburgh, this is most likely one hell of a good party.

but this year though I feel as though c and I have already had a new year’s eve moment. while we were in Scotland, we took a tour of the highlands and the tour guide/driver offered some history and highlights of his country. of course, he spoke about the Scottish song we all sing on new year’s eve: “auld lang syne”, written by the Scottish poet Robert burns. our passionately patriotic scotsman guide/driver sang the song in in his thick brogue and spoke of the true meaning of the words, telling us that the song asks whether old friends and times will be forgotten and promises to remember people of the past with fondness. then he encouraged us all to sing with him.

as the sun was setting, our little tour bus filled with twelve belgins, two Argentinians and we two americans wound our way from the Scottish countryside back to Edinburgh, singing a soulful version of “auld lang syne”. It was a moment to remember with fondness.

“For auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet.”

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Filed under family, history, Love, New Year, travel

Three Decades

C and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this week.

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

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Perseverence and Pride


“god grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” serenity prayer

three simple thoughts. how many of us beat our heads against a wall trying to change things that aren’t going to change or wallow in feelings of helplessness when there are steps we can take to make a change. ah, so it’s the wisdom to know the difference that makes the difference. words are easy, life is hard.

a year and a half ago c and i began a new way of life. https://readseethink.net/2013/05/22/journey-of-genetic-defiance-part-i/ and we’ve continued it to this day, which has allowed us to enjoy a healthier and happier life together. as somewhat of a culmination or perhaps continuation of his healthy life, c rode in a 65 mile bike ride to benefit the american cancer society this past weekend.

in spite of spending months training for the ride – which c completed with impressive dedication – he was nervous. he said he was nervous about making a fool of himself by falling or failing in some way. i suspect that he wasn’t nervous about completing the ride because he was certainly ready to ride 65 miles, but about completing the ride to his own satisfaction. and because he was a rider as a younger man and by his own admission just “loves to go fast”, he wanted to complete the ride in the same way completes his weekly rides — tour de france-type riding.

he not only finished the ride, but he finished the ride an hour earlier than anticipated and with the first 40 out of a total of 3,000 riders. here’s the spectacular part: this is the same person who had difficulty walking ¼ track in january of 2013. now, 110 (or more) pounds lighter, he rode 65 miles at a pace of 20 – 30 miles per hour and wasn’t even exhausted.

he’s now training for a 150 mile ride in october and i’m sure he’ll also finish that in spectacular style.

courage to change the things i can.

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Filed under courage, family, Fitness, health, Heroes, Love, marriage, weight loss