Why am I here?

Certainly you have asked yourself this question. Perhaps you asked it many times. You could have been sitting in a boring class that seemed to have no relation to real life. If you went on to college there may have been several of these classes because they were listed as “requirements.” “Reflections on Man,” for example, may sound like something meaningful, but I am pretty sure my only reflection was on the meaning of the course itself. “Philosophy and Religion” as well as “Behavioral and Social Sciences” requirements provided me with plenty of opportunities to ask, “Why am I doing this?” On its lowest level, I guess you could say I was doing if for the grade.

Technology possessing World by Pj93

Family gatherings can also drive you to ask our topic question. Good old Aunt Pearl may compel your attendance at her twice annual family gatherings. That would be the ones without music or television where the adults would try painfully to keep some sort of conversation going. Her cookies and hard candies just were not enough to keep you from wondering why you continue to attend these family gatherings that seemed forerunners to family wakes. By the time Aunt Pearl passes, you will feel like you have already attended her wake on many occasions. After the kids get hyped up on candy, they may provide some comic relief to go with Aunt Pearl’s annoyance (or passing). The conclusion may still be, “Why Lord? Why?”

Of course, you may find yourself at one holiday party when you know a better one is going on elsewhere. The reason for this may be that it is some sort of social obligation. Still you wonder why you are at Orville’s party when Wilbur is so much more fun. Even though the holidays usually seem to race right by with January and February lurking around the corner, time seems to stand still at Orville’s party, leaving you to wonder “Why am I here?”

For the last dozen or so years, I have thought of this question on the grand philosophical scale. That is, I have literally wondered why I am here, on earth, in this place, at this time. I figure there must be a higher calling, if I could just find out what that is. In Catholic grade school, we were taught to seek our vocation in life. Lately when they call to pray for vocations, they generally mean they need more religious to join up.

Still we all may think “Why am I here?” You might have the pleasant thought that it is because your mommy and daddy wanted you, but in my case, I am pretty sure that is not it. If you think it is because the stork brought you, you are either from Alsace or too young to be reading this blog.

In church we read out the intentions or invocations. These are prayers where we call on the Lord to help us. One at the end usually goes like this, “For the intentions we hold in the silence of our hearts (pause), we pray to the Lord.” In recent years this pause was where I filled in a request for acceptance, which has to do with chronic foot pain, and a desire to have the answer to the question on why I am here. There must be some reason beyond tossing off clever quips on social media sites.

There was a priest whose sermons never left me with the “why am I here” feeling. It almost seemed like he is just talking to me. So I confessed to him one day that I felt there must be a grand plan. I felt frustrated that I did not know it even though I prayed for the answer. Of course, he urged me to keep an open mind and be receptive. What else could he say? He was not going to pass along God’s response. No voice was coming to us from a cloud. No one will give us a 140 character response on twitter (or 280 if you are blessed with extra letters). He did the only thing he could, he listened.

In the meantime, I thought I would just take whatever reasonable opportunity I could to help people out and keep my ears open. It reminded me of the frustration felt by the Bishop at the beginning of the holiday classic The Bishop’s Wife. At his wit’s end at not finding what he needed to build the cathedral, he prays, but if you see this holiday movie, listen to what he prays for. Is it really a cathedral?

Just like our movie hero, it finally came to me. I was a bit surprised that it took so long. It was there all along. Unlike Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, I did not have to travel the world for the answer, nor did I have to go to Oz. While I was lending a helping hand, and enjoying new adventures with some of my friends, new and old, I discovered something. It was never one great thing that I was supposed to do. It was a lot of little things, and they would add up to the reason why, and they have. In case I have not been clear let me just state it this way, “Do the next right thing.” That’s it. Really! As you move from adventure to adventure, helping when asked and finding help when needed, you will see the answer that was never to be had at Aunt Pearl’s house. Check below the video.

Advertisements

THANKS, NOW LEAVE

Some community organizations serve their members and alumni well. Others struggle under the weight of their “leadership.”

SERENDIPITY

Not Welcome Anymore, by Rich Paschall

Roger was a busy guy.  In recent months he absolutely could not find time to fit one more thing into his schedule.  The local pastor, Jared, was even busier and usually kept to a tight schedule.  His time was parceled out like the hosts he distributed on Sunday.  So it was a bit of a surprise when he dropped an email on Roger asking to meet.  “Perhaps we can get together for coffee on Thursday afternoon or Saturday morning,” the message read.  Roger picked Saturday.

When Roger turned 60 he had promised himself there would be no more big projects.  He felt he was done with community organizing, large social events, and big family gatherings.  “All the work should be done by someone else,” he thought.  But then there always seemed to be another great idea and that meant “one last hurrah.”

When a long time…

View original post 843 more words

NO SPORTS, POLITICS, OR RELIGION

This past week I stopped by a local inn to see some friends. Two people ended up having a “lively” discussion on the outcome of the recent national election. Naturally, I thought of this guideline.

SERENDIPITY

Some Old World Wisdom, by Rich Paschall

When thinking of blog topics, there is no shortage of subject matter. Some general areas offer a lot of topics.  With a bit of extra thought, there’s an endless supply. Consider well how many areas you can pursue if you are willing to delve into sports, politics, or religion. Each is bound to set some readers ablaze. Would surely bring lots of comments. You do want lively discussion, don’t you?

How lively do you want it?

conversation1

Venture into a sports bar well into the evening and you are likely to find plenty of spirited discussions regarding sports.  These ideas should help you out.  Will the Cubs win another pennant?  Will the White Sox ever get the love the Cubs get?  Will the Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup?  Will the Bears defeat the hated Green Bay Packers?  Will the Bulls beat the hated ____________ (fill in…

View original post 627 more words

Pride

When I posted the following three years ago, I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.  Also note, at the time of this writing Benedict XVI was Pope. 

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.
The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the current pope was elected (at the time of this original article), old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.
Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility (the current year’s awesome revival thrills lifelong fans). The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.
With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

Note: Comments in italics were added to the original article for purpose of updating.

IN SEARCH OF PEACE ON EARTH

It does not look like a New Year will bring Peace on Earth, but we can hope.

SERENDIPITY

The Same Auld Lang Syne, by Rich Paschall

Another year has begun and we can see it is indeed the same as days gone by.  The old days are not forgotten as old conflicts rage on and new ones have arisen.  If old acquaintances happen to be forgotten as one year passes into another, old hatred, old disputes, old border wars, old and new religious battles carry on as if they will forever be remembered.  Are these disagreements worth the killing of men, women and children standing on the other side?

In our neighborhood, just as in many around the world we conclude our year wishing “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”  It is on our greeting cards and in our songs.  It appears in Christmas stories and is heard from pulpits and lecterns around the world. The invocations I read to those assembled at noon mass at our church on Christmas Day included a…

View original post 580 more words

Pride

Recently I saw a post on my facebook newsfeed questioning the need for a Pride Parade and Pride events in general.  Someone responded that if your group was suppressed or discriminated against for a long time, you might feel the need to speak out and express your pride in who you are.  It was an important response to the issue, but I see it as more than that.  It is also based in the need that people have to feel important, significant, meaningful.  We all look for purpose in life and we all want to be proud of who we are.

When I posted the following three years ago I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.   

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.

The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better, I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the Benedict XVI was elected, old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.

Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility. The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.

With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

For more thoughts on your own true colors as well as the song below visit Don’t Be Afraid To Let Them Show on SERENDIPITY blog.

Pride

When I posted the following two years ago I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.  Also note, at the time of this writing Benedict XVI was Pope. 

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.

The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the current pope was elected, old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.

Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility. The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.

With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

For more thoughts on your own true colors as well as the song below visit Don’t Be Afraid To Let Them Show on SERENDIPITY blog.

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.”

Writing a blog

All over the map

Y from the Yahoo logo

Y from the Yahoo logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I write a weekly blog,” I proclaimed rather boldly while some sport events played on the televisions around us.  “Sunday Night Blog!”
“Really?” my friend questioned.  “What kind of blog?”
“What kind?”
“Yeah, what kind is it?”
I stared back with a rather blank look, I guess.
My friend continued with determination to extract some further information, “What is your theme?”
“Oh!” I said as if I finally understood. “The theme is Twenty ten. It is a typical lay out and you can change the header anytime and add all kinds of cool stuff down the side.”
“No, not the theme. What is your subject? What do you write about? What are your topics?”
The light bulb finally went on, but I did not have a good answer for him. “I write about anything, or everything.  It depends.”
“It depends? What do you me it depends? You have to have a certain type of blog. Do you write about politics? Music? Religion? Sports?” As I did not provide an immediate answer, my friend added, “Something else?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “I write about all those things.”
“WHAT!? You can not do that.”
“Why not?”
“No one will ever read a blog like that. You have to find your niche and write for them.”
“Isn’t that a bit like preaching to the choir?” I asked.
“Exactly,” my friend said without a millisecond of hesitation.
“Well, what is the point of that? The choir probably has heard the sermon already. I want to write about the things that interest me each week.”
“No, no, no,” my friend blurted out, almost shouting so I would be convinced. “You have to have a goal for your blog, a higher purpose!”
“I do have a goal,” I insisted. “I wish to finish each week before Sunday night, hence…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said while cutting me off. “Hence, Sunday Night Blog.”
“That’s it,” I said proudly. “I even finished on time for the two Sundays I was out of the country.”
“That doesn’t count,” he reminded me. “You probably wrote those before you left.”
“True.”
“Look, you want to have readers, don’t you?”
“Of course.”
“Then you must have a permanent category,” he instructed. “How about music?”
“I don’t go to enough concerts and I do not hear enough new music.”
“What do you listen to in your car?”
“I sing along to the oldies,” I replied with a smirk.
“Oh my god,” he declared rather slowly to add emphasis. “Remind me never to ride with you.”
“Why not?” I laughed.
“Moving on,” he stated in a manner indicating his resolve. “What about entertainment in general?”
“No, I don’t get much entertainment, unless you count your facebook status. They really ought to get spellcheck for that.”
My friend either did not get it or pretended not to, so as not to get sidetracked from his mission to find me a purpose. “What about food?”
“Hot dogs?”
“Nevermind. How about the economy?”
“Too depressing,” I replied.
“Politics?”
“No, everyone will be sick of it by election day.”
“Religion?”
“No, the choir has already heard me sing.”
“Sports?”
“No, everyone I know is into fantasy leagues, not real sports. That’s like reality television, only with beer and chicken wings.”
“Well, how about the media?”
“I could review other blogs.”
“Absolutely not,” he shouted, “you will lose the one or two readers you might have now.”
“I must have more than that,” I insisted. “We can look at the dashboard and find out.”
“Don’t do it. You will be too depressed if you do not find any readers.”
“That’s true.”
“You can not go on like this, however. If you want readers you need a regular topic. You must load up you your articles with the right keywords so they will be picked up by the top search engines. You must choose your categories wisely and add lots of tags. Blast out notices on facebook and twitter, maybe Stumble Upon, Tumblr, Reddit and Pinterest, maybe Google+ and Yahoo.
“They still have Yahoo?” I said innocently.
“You simply can not be all over the map!” He was finally finished with trying to help me be an internet author. Besides, it was time to get another round and more popcorn.
“But I like being all over the map,” I said rather meekly. “It has provided me with the greatest adventures. My best travel companion and I have always started off with a general destination, but no specifics that stop us from going all over the map. We have the best trips ever.  The blog is sort of the same thing, I think”
My friend glanced back at me with a rather incredulous look.
“Honest! I wished I had lost my sense of direction long ago. It really has helped me find my way.”
My friend just shook his head and grabbed another handful of popcorn.

Pride

When I posted the following last year I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.  Also note, at the time of this writing Benedict XVI was Pope. 

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.
The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the current pope was elected, old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.
Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility. The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.
With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?