It’s a miracle!

 For me the miracle of the day is the power of a story that has lasted for 20 centuries.  Billions world-wide are moved to go to a house of worship just to honor a story that has mesmerized the world since ancient times.  While sitting at the front of an old Catholic church one Sunday two years ago, I thought of the modern-day miracle I witness each year.  I guess I think of it every year.  Here are those thoughts again: 

Since it is Easter I thought it only right to talk about a miracle.  I know what you are thinking.  It is the rising from the dead that I am talking about, but that is not quite it.  This came to mind at the noon mass when Father Rex posed the question, “How do we know that Jesus arose from the dead?  What proof do we have?”

It would seem Father is on a little shaky ground right there.  We would all like the proof, but what can he offer us?  The usual tactic for the Easter sermon seems to be to tell us what happened and to celebrate the day.  Father Rex, however, had decided to take on the big question.  Even more, he seemed rather calm about it, like he actually knew something.  I could not mistake his calm spirit because I was seated on the side and as close to the lectern (podium?  ambo?) as one could get in that church.

He was sure that there was a resurrection because he knew Christ lived everyday in his heart.  He offered to us that we could all know that, for the same reason, of course.  I guess he was not out on a limb after all.  It was a reasonable position that I have heard priests state before.  From this point we could all be sent forth to lead good lives.

Before he was finished, I knew he missed talking about the big miracle that happened today.  I could see it clearly when I was standing at the lectern earlier for the second reading.  As a matter of fact, I have seen it every Easter, but only recognized it in recent years for what it is.  That would be the proof.  Yes, the proof everyone wants.  There it was for all to see.  It was in our neighbors eyes if not indeed in their hearts.

Approximately two thousand years ago, as the story goes, Christ died and rose again three days later.  Many false prophets had come along and some even claimed to be the Messiah.  Who are these others?  What happened to their stories?  Why are there no masses to any of those Messiahs?

Today’s miracle is that the power of the story itself drew people to churches all over the world.  They come not just in the millions, but rather the billions. It is estimated that one-third of the earth’s population is Christian, and whether they are regular church goers or not, they want to be in Church on Easter.  They want to hear the story again.  They want to feel comfort in the thought of life after death.  They believe the religious activist known as Jesus of Nazareth is indeed God.  The power of the story that draws them in each year is the miracle of the day.  I guess it really is “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

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Rich Paschall:

As always, beautiful pictures from Marilyn!

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A couple of hundred years of polluting the river nearly killed it. How fortunate for us that nature is resilient. Today, The Blackstone Canal is in recovery but it’s slow. The fish are back, though weather or not it’s safe to eat them is a matter of controversy.

Blackstone river and canal divide

This is the early autumn, mid-September. Barely a breeze. The canal is as smooth as glass and reflects like a mirror.


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Look at Me

Schaduw op het Buurkerkhof
Look at me,
That’s what my life has been saying.
Notice me,
That’s what my whole soul is praying.

Those who see me as I am
Do not understand
What my life is really about.
Those who look upon this face
Think I’ve found my place.
They don’t know me.

Take my hand.
My life is in need of guidance.
Make a stand.
I can no longer hide it.

Those who see me as I am
Do not understand.
They think I’m so very happy.
Those who see this smiling face
Have made a great mistake.
They don’t know me.

Look at me.
I am asking you to notice,
Please love me.
I am asking you to show it.

Those who see me as I am
Do not understand
Why I do the things that I do.
Those who think that I am smart,
That I have a happy heart
Do not know me.

Look at Me.

Notice me.

Look at me.

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Woodcleft Canal – Marilyn Armstrong

Rich Paschall:

A nice article with some great pictures.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

Freeport, Long Island . It’s in Nassau Country, the closest county on Long Island to New York city . I grew up in the city … in Queens , which is a borough of New York. Each of New York’s boroughs has its own character and in many ways, is a city in its own right. Certainly people who grow up in Brooklyn identify themselves as Brooklyn-ites and if you come from the Queens, Staten Island , or the Bronx , you will always identify that as your “home ground” rather than just “New York.”

Colorized postcard of Woodcleft canal with houses visible on the right side of the photo. Postmark: “” Merrick, N.Y, September 3, 1907″ Addressee and Address: “M.A. Hansen, 791 59th Street, Brooklyn” Message [on front]: “” Sept. 1, 07. Have a good time. May” – From the Freeport Historical Society Postcard Collection

Between the picture postcard and…

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Touch Me

Touch me.

Touch Me

Touch Me

Hold out your hand and
Just touch me.
Do understand that
You’re part of my life
And part of my dreams.
The man you see here
Is not what he seems.
Reach out to me.
Show that you care.
Please touch me now
So I know that you’re there.

Be there.
Share in my life and
Just be there.
Stand next to me and
See what I see
And feel what I feel.
The world that I have
Can only be real if you
Give it some life.
Give it some soul.
Be with me now
So you thoughts I can know.

Know me.
Look at me close and
Just know me.
Know that I
Want you with me,
Yet I’m frightened inside
That the love that I have
Will be put aside.
Look in my eyes
For thoughts of a friend.
The message is there
That the voice can not send.

Tell me.
Reach down inside and
Just tell me.
Sing out to me
With the words I desire
And the words that I need.
Acknowledge my world
and set my soul free.
Won’t you be the strength
That I need so much?
Reach out to me,
So our worlds, they can touch.

Touch me.

Photo credit: By Mike DelGaudio (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


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The Lair – Marilyn Armstrong

Rich Paschall:

I had university professors with offices like this. As a matter of fact, I had a back room that used to look like this.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

I’ve worked here, if you use the word “here” in a non-literal way. It is one of a million offices from which teachers work. It might be a space in any old building anywhere in the world. It could be on any campus.

The small room is full of light from its single tall window, the papers and books protected from the sun by a tired Venetian blind. You know, even though you’ve never been there, that the room is too hot in the winter, but not cool enough in the summer. It’s never big enough for all the stuff that lives there, both the things that are physically in place and those that occupy psychic space in the mind shadows.

Just a tiny space cluttered with books and packed tight with memories.

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The River – Marilyn Armstrong

Rich Paschall:

More beautiful pictures from Marilyn Armstrong!

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

When first we moved here from Boston , it was wonderful, but so different.

Although I’d lived in the suburbs and spent most of my vacation time through the years out in the country, I’d never lived so far from a major city nor in a river valley, which has a particular character of its own.

The dominance of the Blackstone both over the ecology of the valley and its economy is hard to over-emphasize.

The Blackstone RiverNational Heritage Corridor is actual part of the National Parks system and includes all the cities in the valley, from Worcester, where the river starts, to Providence where it ends. It is a protected area, though not a park, because so many people live here, but it is considered to be of significant historical importance.

A small pond where herons like to fish is formed by the river and…

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National Poetry Month

We have come around to National Poetry Month again and I see I have a few efforts from long past on the shelf. I am pleased to share some with you.

You Were the One

You were the one
with the sparkling eyes
Alive whenever they
looked into mine,
But they no longer shine
like they used to do.
Now the just give me
the blues.

You were the one
who smiled with ease,
Knew when to laugh,
knew how to please,
But you no longer smile
like you used to do.
Now it just gives me
the blues.

I still see the places
we spent so much time.
I still pass the inns
where we wined and we dined.
And all of these things
that remind me of you
Are all of the things
that give me the blues.

You were the one
with the tender touch,
That made me feel good;
that I wanted so much.
You no longer touch me
like you used to do.
It’s loss just gives me
the blues.

You were the one
with the right things to say,
That had soothed my soul
almost every day,
But your voice doesn’t sound
quite the way it used to.
The words no longer
ring true.

I still see the friends
we cherished so much.
I still have the gifts
you gave me with love,
But all of these things
that remind me of you,
Are all of the things
that give me the blues.

Copyright Richard Paschall
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Being alone

“When you’re alone and
Life is making you lonely
you can always go…”

Where? Where can you go when you feel lonely? Of course, there are just times you want to be alone. That’s different. People sometimes like to be by themselves. Perhaps they just want to read or listen to music. Perhaps they just want to meditate or pray. Perhaps they just want to close their eyes and relax without the distractions of sound all around. Perhaps some feel that yoga is best practiced in solitude. There may be many reasons that someone wants to spend a little time alone. In today’s super connected, social media charged world, you may just want to get away for a while. I recall going camping years ago to remote places where there was little to disturb the peace. We did not worry about getting a cell phone signal, simply because there were no cell phones. We did not feel lonely when seeking peace and quiet, but sometimes we were just alone.

What if being alone also translates into loneliness? What if you would like to be connected, but you are not? What if you have no cell phone, no desktop, laptop, or tablet? What if there is no cable, no satellite dish, no high-definition, no 3D, surround sound spectacular to “wow” your friends? In fact, what if there is a general lack of friends and family?

“When you’ve got worries
all the noise and the hurry
seem to help, I know…”

For some there is little social contact and many worries. What if you have to choose between the rent and your prescriptions, your electric bill and your phone bill, new shoes on your feet or something to eat? Will all the noise and the hurried-up modern world help? There may be moments when the bright city lights and the activities all around can steal away the worries, if only for a moment. What will there be to help after that? Are there enough social programs to help when loneliness and worry takes hold?

“Just listen to the music
of the traffic in the city
Linger by the sidewalk where
the neon signs are pretty…”

How can you lose? In a large city how can one possibly be lonely? The city itself is alive and enticing. There are beautiful parks and museums. There are theaters and concerts. There is nightlife every night of the year. There are sports teams and sports bars. There are those, however, who can not partake. A life event may have robbed the resources and the energy. As the baby boomer, post World War II generation ages, and their new age government works hard to limit their benefits, many have, or will, find themselves alone and lonely. Partners get sick and die. Friends move away. Family forgets. Jobs are lost to the economy or perhaps just to age. Retirement is not satisfying, and there is no one to catch everyone when they have nothing to fall back on.

“So maybe I’ll see you there,
We can forget all our troubles,
Forget all are cares and go…”

The organization AARP reports that 40 per cent of people over 65 live alone. A changing life event, failing health, disability, lack of funds may leave many of them lonely as well. What is to be done? I know what many of you are thinking. “He is NOT going to advocate the government fix all of this, AGAIN!” No, I am not. The plain fact of the matter is they can not fix it all. No matter how much of a safety net they try to build into society (and they should try), they simply will not be able to catch everyone. Besides, what resource, exactly, will help those who are alone and feeling lonely?

This is where we come in, literally. This is where we come through the door and make a difference. Loneliness can be dispelled by making sure our friends and loved ones are not alone all the time. That they have a social network. That they have family who will include them, even if it is just the “extended family.” We did not spend a lifetime attending family events and socializing with friends to leave them high and dry when they could not get out or could not afford a cab or even a bus to get somewhere. In the busy lifetime of starting a career, making friends, getting married (or getting a “life partner’) or raising a family, can we forget about those who raised us? The family and their friends who picked us up and put us back on our bikes should not be forgotten when they can barely walk.

As I firmly believe that what goes around, comes around, I should have enough motivation to help out. If I can answer someone’s prayer, maybe someone else will answer mine. I also have the feeling that a sense of duty has been lost by many of my fellow humans. There certainly was a time when family helped one another at all stages of life. The increasingly mobile society, of course, has put miles, states or even oceans between loved ones. So, I guess the bottom line is that we are in this together and should not leave any one of us completely alone or lonely. (Yes, sometimes you need to leave when the party is over, that’s different.) Perhaps now is a good time to reacquaint yourself with a family member you have not seen in a while or an old friend who has been out of touch. Treat them to something nice. It does not have to be expensive. Maybe you can just go Downtown.

“The lights are much brighter there
you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…”

“Downtown” by: Ernest Drummond William, Tony Hatch
Copyright: Welbeck Music Ltd., Warner/Chappell Music Ltd, Sony/Atv Music Publishing (uk) Limited

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Rich Paschall:

Yes, still winter here.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

winter grass

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