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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Prayer

I've been thinking about prayer quite a bit lately.  At home we say a prayer before every meal; I pray at bedtime;  sometimes at other moments during the day  Occasionally I have lit a candle and prayed at the Grotto at Notre Dame.

Our backyard--a place for prayer
My prayers are very basic.  I thank God for his blessings and I pray for those in need as well as our dear family members.  I often forget to pray for the larger community and world.

Two weeks ago President Obama asked us to pray for the families of the Marines murdered in Chattanooga.  I did, but of what value was that?  I don't know them and do not have the ability to do anything for them.  The latest Presidential candidate, Governor Kasich, asked for "prayers and support."  Did he really mean that or was it for effect?

Alexander McCall Smith, the prolific Scottish author, says about prayer through his protagonist Isabel Dalhousie, "prayer was a form of meditation, she decided, and it did not detract from its efficacy that nobody was listening."  But then she begins to think about it as "directed energy, and we should at least be open-minded on what directed energy might achieve." 

We know a young man who is spending a year of his life undergoing treatment for a rare form on cancer.  His whole family is suffering.  They request prayers and say they feel supported by prayers.   I do pray for him and them daily; but is that going to bring about healing?  I pray for healing.

Jim says he prays because God commands us to pray.  He says it is a recognition of our not being in control.  I agree and yet it seems like such a futile exercise at times.

I do believe that if I pray for someone in particular, I need to be in contact with that person in some way.  Maybe that means bringing some food or sending an email or sending a card.   I have had times when I have prayed particularly about difficult situations when I was working and an idea has popped into my head.  Was that an answer to prayer?

Henri Nouwen wrote somewhere "To pray...is not a futile effort to influence God's will, but a hospitable gesture by which we invite our neighbors into the center of our hearts."  I do like that idea of a "hospitable gesture." 

Larry Cunningham and Keith Egan wrote in Christian Spirituality that prayer says "that a person is not totally self-sufficient and does not regard himself or herself as totally autonomous or alone."

St. Augustine comforts me with these words:  "I shall look to you, Lord, by praying to you and in praying to you I shall believe in you."

So I will keep praying.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Can't Remember!

I've been enjoying Rick Steve's Europe on our local PBS station a few times each week.  I appreciate his blend of beautiful sights, good food, and historical events--and I don't think I am ever going to get to most of the places he visits.

However, I have been to Florence, the place we visited tonight.  And nothing looked familiar.  I don't remember the palace of the Medicis or Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte,  the Romanesque church at the top of the hill a bit outside the city, or the Medici Chapel, the burial place designed by Michelangelo. 

What do I remember? I do remember the large Baptistry door and the hundreds of pigeons in the square, the shops on the bridge over the Arno River, but most of all I remember the campground outside the city and the fact that the water supply cut off when I was all soaped up in the shower.  Maybe that traumatic event has cut off all other memories! 

I have a travel journal and will look for it to see if anything else comes back to mind.  It seems sad to me to have been to such a historic and important place and not have vivid memories of it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Reading a Good Book

A Facebook friend posted a challenge: " Name a book you accept as one of the best books of all time that you have not (yet) read."    The usual ones came up--War and Peace, Moby Dick, Crime and Punishment, etc. I was happy to see that others had not read To Kill a Mockingbird.  I have started it more than once and never got very far.

War and Peace--I read it while nursing Dan 31 years ago--mostly in the middle of the night--a few short chapters at a time.

Moby Dick--I read it during college and even wrote a paper on it. 

Crime and Punishment--I might never get around to this one or any other Russian novels.

The Divine Comedy--I was inspired to try reading this by a 12Blog by Jennifer Holberg.  I have not done well.  I have read about eight cantos aloud but it is pretty dreary!  I may not have the discipline to continue.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man-- I read Chapter One today and I do think I will go on this time.  I've given up on it more than once before.

I posted a reply on Facebook that it certainly is not that I don't have time to read the great works of literature.  And I do always like to have a book that I am enjoying reading.  But it has to be just the right one for the right time.  That can be hard to find.

I have just reread The Closers, a Michael Connelly crime novel. and enjoyed it.  I enjoyed Pete Hammill"s North River immensely but his short stories have not given me the same pleasure.  .I know, these are not great literature, but they were great reads!   I would say that I read one out of every two books I bring home from the library. 

Probably my favorite genre is memoir.  But not from entertainment personalities--and not always from politicians.  I welcome suggestions.





Tuesday, July 21, 2015

St. Andrews

Yesterday I watched three holes of the four hole playoff at the British Open in St. Andrews.  The match was very exciting and tense but for me it was the joy of many memories coming back.  The sound of the sea gulls, which our son thinks was amplified for atmosphere, was what made me really nostalgic. 

Our garden flat (below ground level) was just two blocks away from the 18th hole on the Old Course.  We sometimes walked there and watched golfers.  Jim played the course a few times with his 5 pound annual student membership. 

When the announcers said that it was dry in the area of their booth, but pouring rain on some of the course, I remembered standing on a street near St. Leonard's School where I taught and seeing it rain on the other side of the street.  Our favorite weather person would refer to a prediction of "rain with sunny intervals." 

We lived in St. Andrews twice--a Fulbright year in 1971-1972 and an exchange semester in 1981 with another professor and family.  I visited two more times briefly after that.  I wonder if I will ever be able to go back.  If we did, I would like to actually live there for a month or so. I want to walk those cobblestone streets or the path along the Lade Braes again.   I want to see the North Sea from the cathedral and castle ruins.  I'd like to hear the pastor begin Sunday worship with his Scottish burr--"Let us worship God; Let us give him glory and praise."

I've said I don't care to travel overseas again, but maybe to spend a few weeks in St. Andrews would be worth the effort!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Date with my Husband

I've been restless lately, so I suggested we drive to Lake Michigan at suppertime yesterday.  We took US 12 through the corn fields to New Buffalo where we planned to have the legendary burgers at Redamak's.  It looked like a line outside the restaurant so we went to the beach first.  Parking at the beach itself was $10 so we turned around and parked free in town.  This gave us a nice walk to the lake. 

As we walked, we noticed the clouds getting darker and darker.  The sky was quite dramatic.  My trusty Dark Sky app said it would rain in ten minutes.  We took a quick look at the harbor and  headed back to the car.  We called Redamak's to see how long the wait would be for just two of us.  "Ten to fifteen minute," said the hostess. 

We do not wait for tables so we headed back on US12 to Three Oaks where we stopped at Featherbone Restaurant and Lounge.  This was an experience.  Monday was $1 draft night and maybe that made a difference.  Jim and I missed the dress code of sleeveless t-shirts with tattoos visible.  The bar had a lineup of ten very large and noisy men. 

However, the burger I had was one of the best I have ever had and the beer (not one of the $1 drafts) was great too. 

So it was a date not according to plan, but a bit of an adventure. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Three Doctors' Appointments in One Day!

I'm glad that three doctors' appointments in one day is an anomaly and not part of our regular routine!  Jim had two of them; I had one.  All were regular checkups and reassuring.

Jim continues to have issues with his "good" eye.  The infection and subsequent irritations started over a year ago and just don't seem to go away.  He has had regular appointments and changes in medications and most of the time, he can see well enough.  It's the occasional cloudiness that is scary.

We are very thankful that his rheumatoid arthritis is under control and has presented no problems in the last nine months since it was diagnosed and treated.  And even though the medication compromises his immune system, he has been healthy. 

My brief appointment was for a medication check dealing with the insomnia I have experienced.  That too is much better. I shared the online program that has helped me:  www.cbtforinsomnia.com.  My doctor's initial reaction was "that's not a supplement, is it?" and I assured him it was not!  I might blog more about that later. 

When we talk about Jim's retirement and the possibility of living elsewhere, we remember how much we like our doctors here in South Bend and the familiarity of using a hospital where we know many others on staff.  It's a reason to stay right here in comfortable surroundings.