Archive for love

a haitian epistle

disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you will

over the christmas break, i had the opportunity to take a trip with a group of students from st. thomas aquinas at uconn to the country of haiti.  we spent from january 4th to january 14th doing this, that, and everything throughout the cities of port au prince and jeremie.  this is my account of what it was like.  it is in no way complete and can in no way fully explain what it was like to actually be there.  but here it is.  enjoy (and by the way, it’s kind of long.  i was thinking about doing a “part i”/”part ii” kind of thing, but didn’t.  so just keep reading).

well, before taking my trip to haiti i was under the assumption that it would be a life-changing event that i would never forget. to make a long story short, i was not disappointed. over the course of ten days, i experienced things i never would have expected in a million years, met many inspirational people, and had a wonderful time doing it. there is no possible way i could put into words everything that i felt, saw, and did while in haiti, but i’ll try my best.

our plane took off from jfk airport in new york city, and from that moment on, the adventures didn’t stop. no matter where we went or what we did, something crazy, exciting, or moving always seemed to be happening. even the plane ride from new york to port au prince had some animation, as the flight attendant got in a little verbal scuffle with a haitian man who wasn’t a big fan of what he got for breakfast. once we stepped off that plane, though, we truly were in a completely different world. there were no fancy terminals. no perfectly paved runways. not even a moving walkway for us to glide across to the other side of the airport. what we did find was a packed building with people struggling to get close to the baggage claim area. we found a mass of people speaking a different and foreign language and lots of “helpful” men trying to grab our bags for us in exchange for a little bit of money.

from the airport, where we were met by nick and colleen, the two incredible norwich mission house employees that led us around for most of the trip, we took a drive up to the mission house. sounds simple enough, but trust me when i say that nothing ever was. if you were to envision a pothole in the road and then copy and paste that image until it covered the entire road, you’d be pretty close. by the end of the trip, riding in the car across these roads certainly became as much of a game as a way of getting from place to place. in a way, it was kind of like riding the t in boston. when you’re on the t, you can always tell the visitors from the natives. the visitors are flailing and falling over and jerking around with every stop and start; those who live in the city, however, know how to hold themselves so that it looks like they’re taking a completely different and perfectly smooth ride. these roads were like that. after ten days of riding along them, you had a strategy for staying smooth and comfortable, but that first time with your eyes glued to the window trying to take in every person, building, and blade of grass you were seeing, you were flying around, bumping into everyone else over and over again.

it wasn’t just the ride that was jarring, however. you can read the stories and see the pictures. you can hear about the political unrest and watch the reports on tv. no matter what you “know” about the country of haiti, though, you don’t really know it. we so often hear the complaint by viewers that reality tv isn’t real. they say it’s scripted or led on or overly-produced to the point of being just reality-based fiction. in my opinion, if you took a haitian who had grown up poor and dirty and lived the life that your average haitian wakes up to each and every day and put that person into the united states, he might complain too. he’d say our life isn’t real life. it’s just reality-based fiction. when you or i need food or water, we go to the grocery store. when the electricity goes out, you go downstairs and replace the fuse. when we need to upgrade our computer, the tech guys from the electronics store drive over and have it setup in a jiffy. our lives are overly-produced. they’re scripted. but what happens when you don’t have the money to buy food… for your two-year old baby… for the fifth day in a row? what happens when the electricity goes out and you know it’s not going to come back on? what happens when it’s 100 degrees outside and you only have the option of drinking cool water that you know will make you sick or boiled water that won’t? that’s real life. that’s haiti.

and that’s what we started to see as we took that first drive along the road up to the norwich mission house. to me, it looked like a war zone. the streets were lined with concrete buildings that were half torn down. the houses seemed to be surrounded by any kind of wall that could be afforded, usually with barbed wire along the top. everything was dusty and dirty and drab. it really looked like an army had come through on a mission and just left the place in ruins. i suppose there is some truth to that, though with less of an army and more of a civil rebellion. i would come to learn, though, that the walls actually weren’t half torn down. they were half put up. apparently, a great deal of the time the excitement of obtaining a little bit of money through whatever fortunate circumstance that arises is a little too much for haitians to handle. they’re so excited and ready to start off a new, stronger life that they put their money into building this new, bigger home for their families to live in and things are great. things are great, that is, until the money runs out, and without finishing the home, they’re back to where it all began. we did get to pass a fancy car dealership. the couple of wealthy people around do have to get their cars somewhere. we also drove by the brand new u.s. embassy building. we’ll just say that the beautiful architecture and shiny stonework don’t exactly fit in with the surroundings. those two places could in theory have given a bit of a more homey feel to the experience, i suppose. we were much more akin to seeing those than to seeing dirty streets and broken buildings. really, though, they just added to jarring feeling of the ride. i had yet to really meet a haitian, but i already had a pit in my stomach for them. the amount of money that’s going into that embassy… i don’t want to know. all i can say is that there may be a couple of things in the country that need it a little more.

i’ll have to admit we were spoiled. the norwich mission house, where we stayed, is located more along the outskirts of port au prince in an area known as petionville. it was farther up into the mountains than the majority of the city, and not nearly as crazy as many other areas. the house has walls around the borders of the property, like most of the buildings around it, and there was always a guard on duty at the gate for the protection of the workers and visitors. the guard always had a really big gun in his hands, so with that in mind, we were in a pretty safe place. besides the safety, though, the house was just really nice in general. it had everything you might need and a lovely view from the roof down into the city. the boys slept in a big room downstairs, and the girls slept in a similar room upstairs. we were the lucky ones in that deal; the girls’ room did have a bathroom that had recently been fixed up, but they also didn’t have any screens on their windows. in a country with malarious mosquitoes, window screens can be pretty handy. thankfully, we were all taking our pink malaria pills throughout the trip, so none of us got malaria, even though we did end up with a bunch of mosquito bites.

in addition to the nice accommodations, we also had many home-cooked meals that were made by a haitian woman that worked at the house. as far as how a lot of haitians live each day, scratching by for food and living with their family in a tiny one-room home, we didn’t have to live that way while we were in the country. that made for an interesting psychological situation. we went around for ten days to visit people and places that were often times unimaginable, and we would truly feel for the people we met and saw. at the end of the day, though, we’d go back to our comfortable house and eat the food that was prepared for us. we were trying to understand what these people’s lives were like, but at the same time, it seemed like we were to a certain extent being hypocrites. it was tough.

the streets of the city were a crazy, crazy place to be. the lack of road lanes and, for the most part, stop signs or streetlights turn driving into somewhat of a free for all. those who could afford a car just stayed on their side of the road and passed in and out of traffic however they pleased. the goal wasn’t so much of retaining order but just more simply of getting from one place to the next. those who didn’t have a car and didn’t want to walk all the way across the city to where they had to get would use the public transportation. that’s the easiest way to describe it at least. the vehicles used for this were commonly referred to as “tap-taps”, and mostly, they were these brightly painted pickup trucks with makeshift roofs over the back end. people would stand on the side of the road and hail them, similar to tracking down a taxi, and just hop in the back (or if it was full, hang off the back). when you wanted to get off, you’d just give a little tap-tap (hence the name) on the side of the truck to let the driver know to stop, pay for your ride, and be on your way. the constant entrance and exit of the tap-taps onto and off of the street made the driving even more interesting. this of course was only added to more by the people walking through the streets, many not looking with particular focus on what cars were coming in each direction. that part, at least, made our group feel more at home; it was like being surrounded by the pedestrians on the uconn campus.

our travels took us many incredible places on our trip, and we were able to meet so many selfless people that live their lives completely for others. a perfect example of this occurred whenever we went to a place run by mother teresa’s missionaries of charity. we visited homes of sick and dying men and women of all ages, malnourished and diseased babies, and other sick or abandoned children. the sisters that were in charge of these facilities were incredible. day in and day out they take care of men, women, and children that no one else would dare to touch. their patients have scabies, tb, hiv, and others diseases, and many are thinner than the people in pictures that they show you in health class to scare out away from eating disorders. in visiting these places, we had the opportunity not only to see the hardships that they were going through but also to interact with people and hopefully share a little bit of love with them. we visited the home for the babies on the first full day in the country, and to say it was a shocking start would be quite an understatement. they stopped our car along the side of the road in front of a building guarded by a tall metal wall that looked just like all the other run-down buildings around it. this one, however, had a long line of women holding their babies sitting against the wall. we would come to find out that these women would sit there in hopes that the nuns would let them in and feed their children because they had no way to do it themselves. once inside you were immediately face to face with a large room filled with crib after crib after crib. when you turned the corner, you’d find a similar room, and through another door would be another. the first floor consisted only of several of these rooms, and each one was completely full. the baby boys and girls in the cribs all laid or stood there in their cloth diapers (some with shirts as well), and most were crying. you heart immediately poured out to these children. there was nothing you could do but walk right over and pick one up. for many, the moment they were picked up, they would stop crying. their cheeks and eyes glistened with the streaks of the fresh tears, but when they were picked up, everything was okay. these children needed only to be held to be happy. they just needed a moment of love, even from a stranger that they had never seen before, would probably never see again, and for the most part, had absolutely nothing in common with. the problem was, there were just so many. the very few sisters that ran the home were so busy changing dirty diapers and making sure they were all staying healthy that there was little time for such affection. that was our gift to them, as small as it was. you’d be holding one, though, and have to watch all of the other babies in the room crying. the simple fix would seem to be to put down the child being held and to pick up another; the problem with that was the moment you put many of them down, they would start bawling all over again. you felt terrible putting one down but knew that the others needed your embrace just as badly.

in addition to the babies, there was also a group of orphans that lived at the home. it was truly incredible seeing how open and loving all of these children were. with the upbringing that we are given, told to stay away from strangers and to be afraid of things and people that we do not know, it was mind-blowing to walk through a door and immediately have haitian kids grabbing and pulling you here, there, and everything. it didn’t matter who we were. we were people, and because of that alone, they liked us. we also had the chance to help feed the children at lunchtime. the food wasn’t exactly what people in the u.s. would consider up to gourmet standards. they were basically eating something similar to a thick gruel with a rice and beans base to it. it certainly wasn’t the most delicious looking thing in the world, but honestly it didn’t matter. the thing about food is that when you have nothing to eat besides what is put in front of you, you will gladly eat it. this point got reinforced later in the trip when we were hearing about haitians in the countryside making and eating mud cakes because they couldn’t afford anything else. as we sat there spoon-feeding babies, it didn’t matter what was on the spoon. their stomachs were empty and anything would be good enough to fill them.

this type of experience would be replicated many times in our travels around the country. we met with so many incredible people who, no matter their plight or situation, all shared a common need: love. we spent a few afternoons with children from an orphanage called “la maison l’arc-en-ciel,” or “the rainbow house.” these kids were all positive for hiv/aids and could not be supported be their families anymore. in a country where trying to find enough money for food, water, shelter, and clothes on a daily basis is nearly impossible for many, trying to then pay for the medicine of a sick child isn’t even an option. one afternoon we took a bunch of boys on a hike up a nearby mountain. the walk was fun, and the view at the top was breathtaking. the most impacting factor of the experience, however, was neither of those. it was the kids. the fact that they spoke creole and we spoke english made it so communication couldn’t really happen so effectively using our verbal skills. there are only so many “hi! how are you?”s that you can say to a 10-year-old in an afternoon before he realizes that’s all you know. the fantastic thing, though, was that the lack of talking didn’t stop communication. when a kid is dancing up and down the path and has a huge smile on his face, you can assume pretty well that he’s having a good time. when you’re grabbed by the arm and dragged over to a tree to see the fruit that a boy’s just climbed up and picked for you, it’s pretty easy to tell that he wants you to eat it. when it came down to it, and this fact would be pretty consistent throughout the trip, not being able to speak creole wasn’t really that big of a deal. it’s incredible what perseverance for understanding and a little attention to body language can do. being from the northeast where even the person having the best day in the world still walks down the street as quickly as he can with his head looking straight down, you don’t get that a lot. on this afternoon, though, these kids had a ball, and i don’t know that because they told me. i know that because i cared enough to look and see.

we went back to that same orphanage a few days later to play with all the kids, and it was a great time. our group was able to take the experience with a few boys on the mountain and multiply it ten times over. most of the children were still at school when we arrived, but when the truck bringing them back home stopped at the orphanage, they immediately came over and gave all of us welcoming handshakes and hugs. these kids acted as if we were family friends that they had grown up knowing. we were never strangers in their minds, just people, and it was people that they wanted. we spent the afternoon basking in the feeling of acceptance and love and hopefully were able to give it right back to them. being infected with their disease definitely didn’t make them the most popular kids around. we heard stories of other families wanted these children to be put into different schools and how families with hiv/aids positive kids are shunned by the community. it’s not all that unlike here, i guess, but in a world where all you have to rely on is the support and caring of those around you, it’s an awful situation to be in. for the short time we were there, though, you never in a million years would have known that these kids had lived through any problems. they smiled. they laughed. they played. they loved soccer and swinging and music and coloring and anything you wanted to do with them. as long as someone was there to spend time with them, they were happy as could be.

one bizarre thing to witness in haiti was the doings of a typical sunday. we’re all used to america, the freedom-based, most powerful country in the world. one of those freedoms has always been freedom of religion. while a great concept in the beginning, it kind of backfired. instead of allowing everyone to pick whatever religion they want to follow, it instead lets most people pick none. most people around, even if they go to church occasionally, could care less about religion and god and all that. we found out that haiti has that religious freedom thing too. there are plenty of catholics around, but you’ll bump into lots of protestants and those who practice vodou. the weird thing was that no matter their religion, on sunday most people were going to church. they weren’t sitting at home preparing for the football game that night or making sure their roof was fixed (though many could have used the time to do so). they got up on sunday morning and went to church, and they were all in their sunday best. for six days of the week, you saw people walking around in dirty, ripped t-shirts and pants, but on sunday, the suits and dresses came out. suits and dresses? i thought these people were all dirt poor. well yes, they are. that’s why for most, you would probably see the same suits and dresses week after week after week. they just wanted to do their best to praise god and show their respect to him by being clean and well dressed for church. imagine if people in our country cared enough about anything to do that.

there were far too many moments and experiences in those few days in port au prince to even think about writing about all of them here. we met with a pastor who helped translate the bible into creole, merchants whose chance of feeding their families that day depended on you buying a statue or painting from them, a woman who gave her life and money every single day toward feeding all the hungry children in her neighborhood, an american banker trying to bring hope to the island through this thing called micro credit, and students who have had to walk all the way to the hospital just to get somewhere with electricity so that they can do their homework. it was full of so many people, places, and things that i’ll never forget. it was an incredible, incredible experience, and then, we went to jeremie.

jeremie is the fourth biggest, i think, city in haiti. compared to port au prince, though, it’s not much of a city at all. it’s out in the countryside and is a much more rural atmosphere than the “big city” life we had gotten used to. we had to take a plane to jeremie because the road there is winding, unpredictable, and dangerous. one haitian man told us that if we were going to drive, it would take us somewhere between four hours and a few days to make the trip, depending on car, weather, and road conditions. seeing as we were only on the island for a week and a half, we took the plane instead. after getting off our tiny propeller plane, we were met on the dirt runway by bette gebrian, who is the primary health coordinator or the public health director (depending on which website you google to) of the haitian health foundation. we had only a moment to go to the bathroom in the one-room airport, and then we were off into the mountains. it was an interesting ride for sure. the roads in port au prince had been rough and bumpy, nothing like even the worst roads back home. the roads leading up through the mountains of the haitian countryside, however, were nothing like even the worst roads in port au prince. it wasn’t really a bad thing, just a little crazy. i’ve driven up mountain roads before, but never literally up the path of a mountain. it made for quite the ride. we would all come to embrace the motto of “be like gumby”, as if you tried to control yourself over the unexpected turns, bumps, holes, and rocks, you would inevitably hurt yourself more than just letting go and flopping around. if someone had been filming us, it probably would have made for quite a youtube video.

we were driving into the mountains to go and visit one of the villages that the haitian health foundation helps out. basically they go around to towns, villages, homes, and people throughout jeremie and the surrounding area and help promote good health. they focus on teaching things such as proper nutrition, good ratios of food, breastfeeding, and other concepts that will help the poor haitians stay healthy even when the least possible nourishment is available. at the village we visited, the hhf was running a monthly check for mothers and their children, checking things like weight and blood pressure. we also had the change to wash and clip fingernails to prevent diarrhea-inflicting diseases that cause dehydration. before we left, we were able to serve a meal of this stuff called “akamil” to the families that were there that day. akamil is an interesting dish to say the least. if you remember the gruel-like dish that i mentioned earlier, i’ll just say that the akamil made that food look rather appetizing. it was basically a gray mush. i tasted some, and honestly, it wasn’t too bad. apparently, they also have a sweeter version than the one we served that day with more sugars and sweet ingredients. ours, however, was basically made of two parts rice, one part beans, and a few various spices that they found around. the problem with a lot of these rural areas is that when families get a little money for food, they want to get the most food possible with it. the cheapest thing around is usually rice, so they get a lot of rice. even if they fill up on rice and aren’t starving, though, they aren’t getting the proper nutrition to survive. many children end up dying of kwashiorkor, a protein deficiency, because they are only taking in simple sugars and carbohydrates. the akamil that they are taught to make, and that we served while in the village, is a nutrition-based food that, while not all that delicious, provides sustaining nutrition for the haitians in jeremie.

one fantastic part of the haitian culture, in my slightly biased opinion at least, was the importance of music. music is important in the u.s. and is a huge economic force, but in haiti, it’s a huge part of life. not only is music used for enjoyment, it’s engrained in everything they do. when we got down from hiking the mountain with the boys from the orphanage, we ate lunch with them. before we ate, they sang grace for us. when we spent the afternoon at the orphanage, they sang a thank you song right before we left. when we were in jeremie, we heard songs about the signs of pneumonia and the positive effects of breastfeeding (or so we were told at least; they were all in creole). since many of the haitians were illiterate, the workers at the haitian health foundation found that song was the best means to teach, even if the tunes didn’t exactly have the lyrics of a top 40 hit. coming from a country that’s gradually trying to take music out of schools and out of the minds of children, seeing music embraced in this way was wonderful. i even had a few chances to play some authentic caribbean drums with a couple of kids that had so much natural talent and rhythm it was incredible. they tried teaching us their beats, but it was a struggle for sure. as i’m going to school to study music, it was tremendous to see so much music everywhere we went in the country.

before leaving jeremie we had the chance to drive around the city with sister maryann berard. she works for the haitian health foundation, and like many of those that we met along the trip, she was a truly incredible woman. to say she was tough would be quite the understatement. from what we hear in the united states, haiti is supposed to be this hardened, dangerous place that you should stay clear of, but for the vast majority of the trip, i personally didn’t feel in any danger. the welcoming, friendly people that we met along our journey made those ideas seem much more like rumors than the truth. i did, however, feel a bit scared twice. both of those times were under the watchful eye of sister maryann on that drive around the city. at one point, we got out and took a walk up into one of the poorest and most cramped sections of the city. before we got out, she told us that she was glad we were there because she wanted to go talk to the people but didn’t like to go up in there alone. for me, that wasn’t the most comforting thing she could have said, but we all went with her anyway. we found out what she meant as we walked along the tiny path between the tiny shacks. more and more people came out to get a look at us, and soon enough, we were surrounded by forlorn haitians needing money and food. we were never directly threatened, but being surrounded by a big group of desperate haitians yelling and holding machetes can make you nervous. or maybe it was just me. the second event on that car ride happened as we were riding through one of the busier parts of town. carnival was coming up, so every sunday they would have a kind of mini-carnival to get ready for the big celebration. we happened to be driving around on a sunday, and as such, the younger men were out having their fun. a lot of them were totally drunk and had put on masks and covered their bodies in some kind of black charcoal mixture. they looked pretty intimidating to begin with, but the thing that really got me was when one of the guys slammed on the back of our car and then almost immediately another jumped on the back and hung on. i had the luck of being seated right in the back next to the window, so he was probably about three inches away from me. thankfully, sister just kept on driving and eventually he jumped off and we got out of there before anything could happen. it was quite the experience, though. the funny thing was that while all of the young, adventurous college kids were really nervous going through those places, sister maryanne, who is 63 years old, seemed unfazed like it was all no big deal.

the group took a plane ride back to port au prince and basically started getting ready to go home, as we had to leave the next day. we were lucky enough to get to watch a “rara” pass by the mission house that night. it was pretty much a great pre-easter parade which tons of people and really neat music. i thought it was pretty cool. once again, we had a first hand look at the awesome musical culture. the next day, we got a ride to the airport and took our plane back to jfk and eventually back home. it was interesting to see the differences between the customs office at the airport in port au prince and the one in new york. none of us had any reason to be stopped in either one, but as you can probably expect, it took a lot longer getting through in the u.s. than in haiti. we did, however, finally get out and were safety back in the united states of america. it was a very, very strange feeling walking out of the airport to the hustle and bustle of new york life. there was streetlight after streetlight and car after car after car, and as you walked past all these people and all their stuff, you just had a feeling they took it all for granted. i know i had. before the trip i had heard of the starving children in china that forced me to eat the vegetables on my plate. i had heard of the poor children in africa that somehow got on my television screen but definitely needed a few dollars from me every month. i had read about the injustices in the world, and i can assure you that i believed that they were there. i had not, however, gone and seen it, and that made all the difference. the old adage is that you don’t know what you have until you lose it, and that was never truer than with this experience in haiti. the incredible part about it was that it worked both ways. being in haiti, i was able to realize how incredibly blessed i am just to have enough food, water, clothing, and shelter or how fortunate i am to be able to go to an expensive university to learn about the world and then get to go see it. i’ve taken so much for granted in my life, and going to haiti made me realize that fact and hope, for myself, that i can change that. coming home from haiti, however, i also realized what i had lost by leaving there. as i walked down the street, no stranger was willing to look me in the eye and say hello. unfamiliar people were not ready to give me a hug and spend an afternoon in my company. the friendliness and love that had shone from the haitian people was nowhere to be found around here, and while it was nice to get back to the luxuries and comfort of my normal life, that was something to be missed.

there is no possible way to put into words everything that i experienced, felt, saw, learned, and loved about my trip to haiti. reading back through what i’ve written, i’m realizing more and more all the things i’ve left out. that’s okay, though. i can just say that it was an unforgettable experience that, thankfully, will never leave me. if you’d made it all the way to the end of my wandering words, i applaud you. hopefully my stories weren’t too random for you to take out the importance that i saw in them. if you get anything, however, out of what i’ve tried to share, i hope it’s this: haiti is an amazing country. many claim it to be one of the poorest places in the world. i, however, experienced a haiti that was richer than i could have ever imagined. the haitian people shouldn’t be pitied, for they do not want to be pitied. they’re just like you and i. they just want to be remembered and to be loved, and after actually being there, i can promise you that it can truly make all the difference.


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god’s kids

disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you will

hola (that’s “hello” for all you french-speakers out there).  so i was in church last week (on friday, september 14th, to be rather precise), and it just so happened to be the feast day for the exaltation of the holy cross.  while not a holy day of obligation, it was still kind of a big deal.  you could tell this because instead of the normal reading – psalm – gospel order that daily masses normally partake in, this mass was more sunday-esque with the reading – psalm – reading – gospel lineup.  i don’t mean to degrade the first three members of that group (which happened to come out of numbers 21:4-9, psalms 78: 1-2 and 34-38, and philippians 2:6-11, respectively), but the reason i bring up my ecumenical outing is due to the gospel reading.  this reading came straight out of the book of john, chapter 3, verses 13-17.  now if you’re in any way biblically literate (and i can say this solely because i consider myself extremely biblically illiterate and still know a bit of this reading), you might have already picked up on the fact that this biblical slice just so happens to include one of the more (and/or most) well-known bible passages in today’s lovely world.  that passage is john 3:16 which reads (in the new american translation), “for god so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  a lovely passage indeed.  it’s hard to deny that.  but at the same time, it got me thinking.  and honestly, this idea had been floating around in my head for a while.  but when it was read in church, that was it for me.  it made me think.  and when i think, i blog.  and when i blog, you have to suffer the consequences.  sorry.

my thinking, getting back on track, was about the dandy little phrase “his only son”.  this, if you didn’t know, is in reference to jesus of nazareth (who christians consider to be the christ, messiah, and savior of all).  now it’s only three little words (comprising of only twelve measly characters in a microsoft word spelling and grammar check), but those three words (in my mind at least) pack a wallop (which defines as a “pseudo-violently high-powered action performed abruptly”, so it’s quite a thing).  it’s not that i have a problem with the phrase, but i do have kind of a big problem with that phrase.  well, less of a problem and more of a confusion.  a bewilderment, if you will.  for if you’ve ever been to church on a (pseudo-)regular basis, you’ve probably heard at least once (or maybe even twice) that you are a “child of god”.  this, of course, makes the group around you in the religious community “children of god”, as the phrase is often put.  and this is where the problem comes in.  god is the father (…and the son, and the holy spirit.  but the internet doesn’t have enough space to even begin to try and figure out the holy trinity, so we’re not going to go there at the moment).  and we’re (all, if you choose to be at least.  though, i guess in my opinion we’re all his children, and people who don’t want to believe that are just kind of like the rebellious kids who don’t like their parents [whether warranted or not.  and in this case i’d go with the not] and disassociate themselves from their families as much as possible) his kids.  so english language-ly speaking, we are also his sons and daughters.  this being another term that you (the [pseudo-]regular churchgoer) may have encountered.  but… hmm.  going back to john (who i’m assuming was a lovely man back in his day), we see that jesus was the only son of god.  but according to popular linguistics, i (and you, if you happen to be a male) am a son of god.  i can assure you right here and now that i am not jesus (thank goodness.  i don’t think i could take the pressure).  so how does that work?  my best answer is as follows:  not really sure.

 what i am really sure about is that the internet is quite an intellectual resource.  so i did a bit of searching to quench the thirst of my quandary.   in the “son of god” page on the wonderful wikipedia(.com), we find this line right in the opening paragraph: “in christian traditions [son of god] refers to the relationship between jesus and god, as well as a relationship achievable by believing christians”.  so yeah, no help.  they covered both bases to be safe.  interestly, however, it does bring up a good point a bit further down the page about chapter 1 (verse 12) in the book of john.  this verse states “but to those who did accept [jesus] he gave power to become children of god…”  so jesus, the only son of god only a few pages later, gave us the power to also be sons of god.  interesting.

 a quick google search of the term “‘his only son’ god” brought me back to my roots.  sadly, wikipedia is not the end-all be-all source of information (shocking, i know), and so i ventured forward, this time straight into the catechism of the catholic church to see what it had to say.  thank goodness for the internet, because just looking through my copy of the catechism might have taken a while, but instead my online searching lead me straight to part one (the profession of faith), section two (the profession of the christian faith), chapter two (i believe in jesus christ, the only son of god), article ii (“and in jesus christ, his only son, our lord”), paragraph iii (the only son of god).  the most relevant statements, i thought at least, were numbers 441 and 444. number 441 states, “in the old testament, ‘son of god’ is a title given to the angels, the chosen people, the children of israel, and their kings. it signifies an adoptive sonship that establishes a relationship of particular intimacy between god and his creature. when the promised messiah-king is called ‘son of god’, it does not necessarily imply that he was more than human, according to the literal meaning of these texts. those who called jesus ‘son of god’, as the messiah of israel, perhaps meant nothing more than this.” personally, i found the “adoptive sonship” line to be most interesting. number 444 then follows with “the gospels report that at two solemn moments, the baptism and the transfiguration of christ, the voice of the father designates jesus his ‘beloved son’. jesus calls himself the ‘only son of god’, and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence. he asks for faith in ‘the name of the only son of god’. in the centurion’s exclamation before the crucified christ, ‘truly this man was the son of god’, that christian confession is already heard. only in the paschal mystery can the believer give the title ‘son of god’ its full meaning.”  because i know you want to know, the jesus calling himself the “only son of god” part of that is footnoted with a reference to john 3:16.  darn, no help there.  but, the “he asks for faith…” part two sentences later references john 3:18 (which was conveniently [or not so conveniently] just beyond the extent of the church reading), which states, “whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only son of god”.  there it is again, that same crazy phrase.  still without explanation (but thankfully, my notes in my bible pointed out to me the root of the greek word for condemn.  yeah, helpful).

further searching sent me to an interesting blog called “the monroe doctrine” and specifically a post on it entitled “jesus christ, his only son, our lord“.  it seems to be part of a series of posts about the apostle’s creed and has a whole section about the whole “only son” situation.  it reads, “the phrase ‘god’s only son’ focuses on relationships within the trinity.  god the son is not inferior to the father, but has submitted to the father in order to accomplish the godhead’s eternal purposes.  the terms father and son reveal the eternal and perfect familial love within the godhead”.  personally, i found that pretty interesting, though not particularly helpful.  for some reason, it seems that people are extremely willing to call jesus the “only son of god” while at the same time calling themselves “children of god” even if they might happen to contradict a tad bit (with “a tad bit”, of course, meaning completely).

the only real concept that has brought about any inkling of “okay, maybe that has something to do with it…”, in my mind at least, was in number 441 of the catechism.  the whole adoption thing got me thinking.  maybe jesus is god’s real kid.  and the rest of us are all just kind of step-kids.   yeah, i know.  it doesn’t really make any sense, but i’m working on it.  it’s tough when you don’t have much to go on.  i came across a sermon on the national presbyterian church website entitled “jesus christ, his only son, our lord“, and i had some high hopes for it.  but once again, this explanation falls short. here is the relevant section to read if you so desire: “so much for the relevance of his name. think with me now about his relation to the father as expressed in the words, ‘his only son.’ we in the west can be excused for thinking of biological childbirth when we recite that phrase in the creed. we may even fall to wondering at what point in eternity past god the father gave birth to the son. but that is not the meaning of the phrase, ‘his only son.’ in the hebrew mind, to be a son of someone has far more to do with common ideals than with common ancestry. even in our culture, when someone says, ‘he is a son to me’ they are not talking about matching blood types but about kindred spirits. winston churchill had a son, randolph, but the two never got along very well… but in parliament, churchill had an admiring young colleague named brendon bracken. bracken followed churchill through thick and thin, even to the point of bailing churchill out of financial difficulty just before the second world war… it could be said that bracken was more a son to churchill than randolph, because churchill and bracken were cut from the same cloth. we christians confess that jesus christ is god’s only son in precisely that sense. not that the son is the physical descendent of god the father, for they are co-eternal members of the trinity; but that jesus alone reflects with perfect clarity the glory of the father, and performs with absolute faithfulness the father’s will.”

what i find rather interesting is that the whole “only son of god” thing seems to have been pretty well established by the time jesus was around.  the concept was there.  it wouldn’t really be until a bit later that the church would decide that he actually did fit the bill like he said, but the concept was there.  and if that had stayed it’s course things would have been fine and dandy.  unfortunately (for the sake of this concept but not for christianity in general), paul came around.  and he decided to write about how we are all children of god (see romans 8:14-15 and 2 corinthians 6:17-18 [among others] for more information).  that changed things up a bit.  threw a wrench in the works, i guess you could say.  of course, it’s a beautiful thing to be a child of god, and that “title” (for lack of a better term) truly does emphasize the concept that god loves you unconditionally.  in that regard, it makes perfect sense.  in the logical sense, it’s all there.

 but logical is not really my field.  not at the moment, at least.  not when i (and maybe only i) can see the great debate of “son of god vs. children of god” ravaging forth across the land (yeah, i went for the big time dramatic effect on that one).  is there an answer?  well, maybe.  but not a concrete one from what i know and have read.  maybe we’re step-kids.  maybe we kids in sense of “he is a son to me”.  maybe we’ve just gotten so used to using both terms that they’re both right (or both wrong), and it’s just easier to keep them both going.  i don’t know.  when i started researching this topic, i had very honestly hoped that i would figure this out.  that there would be a simple, straight-forward answer.  but i guess there just isn’t.  i guess it’s just one of those read about it, think about it, pray about it, and then believe what you believe about it kind of things.  darn christianity.  always so full of derstandable things (derstandable, of course, being the opposite of understandable.  you can’t say “not understandable”.  it’s a double negative.  so just drop the “un”.  makes sense to me at least).

 so as i’ve come accustomed to often doing, i’ll leave you with something.  this time it will be a website.  and another version of the answer.  for me, i couldn’t decide whether it was the most helpful or least helpful answer i found.  it’s weird.  kind of risque and out there.  in fact, it’s supposedly from jesus himself (such excitement, i know).  it’s from the answer to the question “was jesus christ the only son of god?” on a website simply called “ask the real jesus”.  i’ll only quote one portion below, but the whole thing is an interesting read.  this section, though, really caught my eye.  it’s quite innovative (and apparently, by the editor’s note-like comment in parentheses at the end, jesus wasn’t so sure about it either).  so good luck on your search for the answer about whether or not you’re really god’s kid (and also your answers to all life’s question, i suppose).  it really is a tough one.  here’s how jesus puts it: “from god’s viewpoint, a lost soul is still one of his sons or daughters. yet, if you go inside the box of the soul, inside the soul’s sense of identity, that soul does not see itself as a son or daughter of god. therefore, in the here and now, the soul is not acting as a son or daughter of god. if a soul does not accept its divine origin, it cannot express its divine potential. if a soul does not accept its potential to be the christ, then the soul cannot be the christ in action. when i appeared on earth 2,000 years ago, only a few people had come to a full realization of their christhood. therefore, one might say that i appeared at a time when there was no other son or daughter of god on earth. i had realized the fullness of my sonship, and therefore i was and i acted as a son of god. in other words, when you look at this situation from a specific viewpoint, it is possible to say that jesus christ was indeed the only son of god who appeared in that particular place at that particular time. therefore, i can understand that some christians have strong feelings for this idea (i am not saying that i share those feelings).”

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disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you willif you’ve ever read my words before, you might notice that it’s been quite a while since that disclaimer has made an appearance. haven’t used it since february, in fact. why? not sure. i guess i’ve been preoccupied with other thoughts and ideas. now, it’s not such a bad thing to move in different directions for a while. it can be a good change of pace to keep things fresh and real. what counts, i believe, is that no matter where you’ve come from and where you might end up, you always come back to what really matters along the way.for me, what really matters isn’t harry potter. it’s not movie music or spelling bees either. it’s not even college basketball. while all those things can seem like the most important thing in the world at this point or another, i promise you they’re not.”so what could really be all that important if it’s not harry potter?”, you may be asking. to put anything that big into words, to be completely honest, is way past me. i’m into the trivial and the contrite. that’s more my line of thought and work. so instead of trying, i’ll pass the torch.the following is a journal entry (one of many incredible ones) written by one of my favorite people in the entire world. she happens to me one of the most loving and wonderful people i’ve ever met and am sure will ever meet. she took a little summertime detour into mexico for a month or so, and to hold over all those people at home going on with their boring lives, she and the rest of her group wrote, from time to time, about their experiences. you can click here to see the “original” version (and definitely check out the rest of the website to see all of the other amazing things it holds), but as i don’t know how long that will be up, i’ll put it below as well. this is a glimpse of what life is all about:our neighbors shoesthey say the best way to empathize with someone is to walk a mile in their shoes. since we’ve been in mexico, we have lived in villages where migrants leave, we have met with migrants and heard their stories. but today we walked in their shoes.we set off with nothing but our packs filled with water on our backs. we walked along a long, dusty road for a while. we were sweating with the sun beating down on us and heat surrounds us. as we walked, a trucked packed with mexicans drove by us. they were heading for the border, their faces with hope and fear. throughout our trek, my thoughts often came back to those men. i wonder how far they’ve gotten now i would think. did they reach the land where they believe their dreams will come true? were they caught, and if so, was the border patrol good or did they mistreat them? did they survive the dangers of the desert?we continued along, crossing through barbed wire, escaping some dogs, trying to move onward through the desert. looking around for miles all you could see was desert. i can’t even imagine the desperation that would cause someone to come to such a desolate place to seek a better life.after walking for a while, we finally found what we were looking for-the border. we knew we were getting close by the helicopter patrolling from the air above. as i looked toward my homeland, i didn’t know whether i should feel happy or sad, comfortable or ashamed. to see this huge rusted wall in the middle of it all was like a slap in the face. this destruction was placed in the middle of god’s creation to separate neighbors, to draw a line between those who have been given a lot and the least of these.we are asked in our xtracting sessions where have seen god. that question is hard for me today. i know where i did not him and that’s at the wall.before we turned around to cross back through the desert, we left all the water we had carried with us. hopefully the next group of migrants who will cross will be able to survive a little longer and see a bit of kindness in a place where it is hard to find.we’ve xperienced a number of xtremes today; we’ve xpanded our mind, xamined our values and xtended our hands, but perhaps the greatest thing we did was walked a mile (or more) in our neighbors shoes.

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valentine’s day, kind of

disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you willas you all probably know, today is february fourteenth. so happy methodius and cyril’s day!yes, methodius and cyril. now i know that popular culture says otherwise, telling you some craziness about some guy named valentine, but in all actuality, today is about two lovely men named cyril and methodius.but what about valentine, you ask. well first off, the “st. valentine” that is normally associated with “st. valentine’s day” (which in our wonderfully materialized and secularized culture has simply dropped the “st.”) was actually three men. well, maybe. you see, in the year 496 pope gelasius i declared that february fourteenth would be celebrated as the festival of st. valentine. unfortunately at that point there was really no record of who that valentine guy was or what he did (that being a problem that hasn’t really changed). basically, valentine was honored as one of those “…whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to god.” we know he was a martyr. but how he lived his life, nobody knows. looking back historically, there were three men named valentine (or valentinus in the roman tongue of the day) during the time of the christian church before 496. so logically, the day could have been celebrating any of them. these three men were a priest in rome, a bishop of what was then interamna (and is now terni), and a simple martyr in the roman province of africa. they are all thought to have been killed sometime around 300 a.d., but besides these few facts, we don’t have much else.there are plenty of stories and legends, though, that try to fill in the unknown details of the whole situation. one rather concrete concept is that chaucer, in his work “parliament of foules” made the statement “for this was sent on seynt valentyne’s day, when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate”. it is thought that this idea caused the day to be looked upon as specially consecrated for lovers and as an occasion to send tokens and letters of love. interestingly, there are two separate camps regarding the analysis of chaucer’s line. some believe that his “seynt valentyne’s day” referred to a day halfway through the month of february (on the fourteenth) just as it has become celebrated in modern times. the second camp, however, is of the belief that chaucer was actually making reference to a man named valentine of genoa (who may or may not have been the same man as the previously mentioned bishop of interamna), who apparently used to be celebrated by the church on the second of may. they simply claim that the middle of february would be much too early for the birds to be mating in england. personally, i’ve never been on that side of the atlantic pond, so i wouldn’t really after i’ve been through a (very) brief of st. valentine’s day and the man (or men) behind it, why did i start this whole thing talking about some other strange guys? well, that’s basically because we’re not living in the year 1968. back before the year 1969, things would have been fine. at that point, the church celebrated the feast of saint valentine on february fourteenth and the flowers, chocolates, and other loved-based materialisms followed suit. unfortunately for that lovely congruity, however, the second ecumenical council of the vatican (more commonly known as “vatican ii”) took place between 1962 and 1965. this council made a whole lot of important church decisions and basically tried its best to start bringing the catholic church into the modern world while also holding on to the traditions that had kept it running for almost two thousand years. one decision that was made (and would come to fruition in the year 1969) was to revamp the church calendar. there were a lot of feast days celebrating “great” people that really couldn’t be proven to be all that great. it was decided that one group that had to go was the collection of saints whose lives and actions were heavily based in legend. and believe it or not (from what we’ve learned so far), that included st. valentine. so in that fateful year of 1969, st. valentine’s day became no more. luckily for all the lovers out there, hallmark cards, inc. had been founded way back in 1910 (with it’s slogan “when you care enough to send the very best” coming into use in 1944), thus allowing the romantic side of valentine’s day to charge ahead even without the religious side to back it up.but who in the world (i’m sure you’re wondering) are these cyril and methodius characters? well, they were two brothers who lived in greece in the ninth century (dying in 869 and 884, respectively). their father was an officer in the very slavic portion of greece where they lived. they, however, didn’t really follow along in the family business and became missionaries instead (though methodius did hold a governmental post for a short period of time before “seeing the light”, as they say). one task undertaken by these men was to translate the bible into a language that the slavic people surrounding them could understand and appreciate. cyril (who was originally named constantine before becoming a monk and changing his name) developed the cyrillic alphabet, and the brothers went to the task of composing a slavonic liturgy. their liturgy, approved by pope adrian ii only fifty days before cyril died, spread to bulgaria, bohemia and southern poland. though methodius would end up being exiled when a bunch of bavarian bishops busted in and took control of the jurisdiction of his homeland, he was allowed to return and, according to legend, completed translating the slavonic bible that he and his brother had started in a mere eight months just before he nothing against st. valentine, whichever st. valentine it is that we might be talking about, but i think st. cyril and st. methodius take the cake on this one. unfortunately for all the hopeless romantics and “sleepless in seattle” fans out there, the salvation of eastern europe turned out to be slightly more important to the church than a few love letters, roses, and whitman’s chocolate samplers. and so, happy st. methodius and cyril’s day! but i bet those two guys would have liked all the chocolates, candy, and nice cards if they had lived in today’s dandy little world. so continue with those. they’re tasty.

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oh have you heard the story

so it has officially been 36 days since the last time that i wrote anything on this little thing they call a blog. it’s amazing how things come up and life gets in the way of the things you’re doing. this can be bad or this can be good. for me, i’d have to say it was good. i had to put a lot of things on hiatus as my life got a little hectic for a while, but i lived through the experience and now i can pick up where i left off, hopefully as a different and better person. that is the point of anything we do, i’d have to say. if there’s no chance of creating positive change (whether it be permanent or temporary), why bother? it could be a change in you or a change in someone else or anything really. but whatever you do, make it count. if you have the chance to make that kind of change in someone, go for it. there are only so many minutes in the day and so many days left to live.

now on to the important stuff. i haven’t written anything in so long, so i must have been pondering things to write and ideas to share. and i must have concocted this amazing post that everyone would be amazed by. that is of course what should happen during such a long sabbatical, if you will. the problem is that when you create such a suspense and such a lengthy wait, the pressure grows to massive proportions. the longer you wait, the more it grows, and it’s a downward cycle that leads to one of two things: an absolutely amazing blog post or disappointment. ever since i first realized “wow, it’s been a long time since i wrote anything online”, i’ve been scared of that ever-growing possibility of great disappointment. so i’ve tried my best in recent times to come up with something of merit and substance. but i’ve been putting it off, not knowing if anything would be good enough. so why did i decide to write? a valid question, indeed. i’d have to blame that on a bit of self-pride. i was in conversation, nothing of real importance, with a few nice people, and a reference was made to the “lampstand of the covenant”. and it was pretty cool having that dropped in conversation, so i felt like i couldn’t leave the “fans” hanging around much longer (of course, my concept of readers and appreciation of this writing is probably now infinitely skewed and ballooned within my mind by a single comment, but like i was saying before, if i have the chance through these random stories and commentaries to make any kind of positive change in someone, i think i should at least try). and so here we are. a post.

a little birdie (who is also known as my sister) dropped an absolutely amazing rumor into my lap a few days back. it was in reference to an event that i, personally, have been waiting and hoping for over a period of probably about a decade. actually, that’s most likely a bit of a skewed statistic, but it’s definitely been at least like six or seven years. the rumor that was told (that for many, if not most, of you will mean absolutely nothing at all) was that there is a great possibility of the return of a certain “hosanna” to a certain “passion play” in the upcoming easter season. of course, it’s only a rumor, but it’s a rumor that i’ve been ready to here ever since i was a child and they so awfully took it away.

after hearing that, i was rather gleeful for a while. but as with most things, the initial excitement wore off eventually and went into an impatient waiting. easter isn’t for many months, so if i just sat back and stayed impatient until then, i’d probably go crazy. so instead i let myself think about it. and that’s where this post actually came from. the song “hosanna” (which was originally written and performed by sandi patty, for any and all who were wondering) brought me back a long way. the last time i had the chance to sing that tune was probably around 1999, back in the time when everyone was partying like it was itself. if my math serves me well, i believe i was in the sixth grade way back then. what amazed me with thinking about all of this was the incredible progression that has taken place. from that year up until now (which happens to currently be 2006), i’ve held on to a hope for the return of the formerly mentioned song. but at the same time, i have become a completely different person. i’ve grown up, lived through many things (both good and bad), and learned so much. i’m sure that back at that point i never once took even a moment to think about what it was going to be like to sit in my college dorm room. and yet now, as i sit in my college dorm room, i reminisce about how it was back then. it really makes you think about things. and when you sit back and give yourself a moment to do just that, there is always so much to think about.

i could think about how at that point i could still sing. and i got to be the only little boy angel ever in the play. i could think about how only a few years later i would be thrown into this big role and get to be john. plus, i would have the chance to be crippled, crucified, mock the people who were being crucified, the voice of jesus in the garden, and various other things all in the course of a couple years. and this is all just thinking about my history with the play. when you get into thinking about life, that’s when it gets really crazy. i’ve finished middle school since then. i’ve finished high school since then. i was drum major of the marching band (and got to win a crazy huge marchoff in the process). i’ve fallen in and out of love. i’ve had my life planned out so many times, only to have those plans pushed aside. i, somehow, turned into this ridiculous kid who goes to a party school and yet sits there with lots of religious books on his shelf and goes to church all the time (and for that matter, i go to uconn. the one and only college i was opposed to going to). i’m a music major (i was never even very good at playing any instrument. figure that one out). i’ve come and gone as a camp counselor. in fact, it’s been a few years now since i’ve been to camp. that’s a weird feeling (though, i still certainly remember the time there when my sister and i decided it would be a good idea to wrap up a bunch of kids in tin foil in the middle of the hottest day of the summer). i’ve been to alaska, california, arizona, nevada, and so many other places on some of the most ridiculous family vacations you could imagine. i’ve done so many things that i never expected to do. so many things that i never would have guessed in a million years. so many things that i probably wouldn’t have believed if you had told me in advance. and that only scratches the most obvious of surfaces. i’ve shared so many wonderful moments with other people. with friends who i will cherish. with my family. and probably even with people i’ve forgotten and have moved on from. but the beauty of it is that all those moments happeneed and were real. and they are there in my mind ready to be let out.

no matter how much or how little you think you’ve experienced in your life, there are plenty of memories and moments that are there for you to constantly call up and remember. you just have to take the time to let yourself do it. and when you do, it’s pretty awesome. it’s interesting to think that a lot of the things i just wrote mean absolutely nothing to most people reading them. a few people might connect with something here or there, but all in all, that’s my list. it’s written much more for me than for anyone else. which then, i guess, just passes the torch to you to make your own. take time to think. take time to enjoy. i mean, there are only so many times in each person’s life that the dual wheel on their rented rv will fall off while going full speed down a nevada highway, only to bounce along, catch back up to the vehicle, and smash right into the window that you’re sitting next to. only so many times. so you really have to cherish them. for yourself. yeah, it’s probably pretty selfish, but that makes it all the more fun to do.

and so in the most grand and dramatic of fashions, we end with this. a great man named epictetus once said, “fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress.” no, i have no idea what that means either. so that’s a memory we can now share. stick it on your list.

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disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you willi have to let you know that this post was not supposed to be like it will be. in fact, it was supposed to be very different. over the past two days i’ve been thinking about a post about how christianity and christians really scare me sometimes. it probably would have ended up being rather negative. i had all of my words ready and ideas to back up my thoughts and all that. but then i went to church this evening and heard a story. a story that changed my mind. this is that story:a woman died recently. she was a loving, caring wife and a mother of two children. her children were seven and fourteen years old. her funeral was arranged and the day came when it would be. the children were brought to the church before the service was to take place and were waiting around for everyone to arrive. the priest of the church, who would perform the ceremony, was sitting in the front pew praying about what he would say and hoping everything would go well. as he finished his prayers, he looked up and saw the seven year old boy standing next to him.”can i help you, matthew?” he said, for the boy’s name was matthew.”i was wondering if i could pass the baskets today,” he replied. the priest explained to him that today was going to be a celebration. a celebration of life and of everything that his mother had accomplished while she was alive. on such days, no baskets were passed. it wasn’t about giving or collecting money. it was about love and remembrance. the boy listened intently to the priest and when he had finished what he was saying matthew said, “alright. then please take this.” the boy held his hand out and dropped the contents into the open hand of the priest. he then walked away and went back with his family. the contents in his hand, the contents which he had desired to place in the basket that he was planning on passing, were two pennies and a dime. twelve cents.on a day where he should have been mourning for the loss of his mother, a day when most people in that church were going to think of little more than how they were going to be able to handle their loss, matthew of the priests at the catholic church here at uconn, father jim, told that story in his sermon. he was the priest in the story, and it had occurred this past monday. when he reached the end of it, with the twelve cents jingling in his hand, he was trying to choke back the tears in his eyes, and all he could really say, all he had to say, was that the boy’s mother must have taught him well. there was a lot more to the sermon, but when i heard that story it just pasted itself across my mind. there may be some unfortunate things that happen in the world, whether they be by christians, jews, atheists, or whatever, but amidst all that, there is good. there are matthews around to make it a wonderful place. i hope that someday i can grow up to be a lot like him.and nothing against the poor widow that was admired by jesus for her giving in the twelfth (wow, i couldn’t have planned that kind of continuity if i had tried) chapter of the book of mark, but she just got schooled up. big time.

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disclaimer: so this post is going to have some top quality christian propaganda in it; in my opinion that makes it all the better, but you can feel as you willthat disclaimer will only be slightly on the truthful side today. there won’t be very much propoganda at all in this posting. more of a mention than anything else. but anyways, this post is in honor of the anniversary of the birth of my sister. she is getting somewhat elderly now, so i decided that i should get a post up in her honor before she “passes on” or whatever you’d like to call it. happy birthday to her on this lovely day.on her account, she refers to herself as a “hopeless romantic”, so in honor of that fact on this occasion i offer you a quote. a quote from the book of genesis. in the twentieth verse of the twenty-ninth chapter (in the new american version, for any and all who were wondering). and it goes as follows: “so jacob served seven years for rachel, yet they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.” i won’t deny it. i “aww”ed when i read it too. such love. of course jacob does go on to accidentally marry rachel’s sister leah and eventually has many children with both women and their maids, but that is certainly besides the point. it was love that started it all. and that’s a lovely thought.

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