Wednesday, May 26, 2004

My Church is Closing

St. James in Arlington, the Catholic church I've been attending since 1996 is being closed, due to the Parish Reconfiguration here in Greater Boston. The reconfiguration has been in the news since early January, when Archbishop Sean O'Malley began the process to close some churches due to lack of parishoners, lack of priests and lack of money (a majority of the churches run with massive money problems). In total, the diocese will close 65 churches.

It was sad to hear the news. While I've missed my share of masses, I acknowledge the relationship between going to mass and being a "good Catholic". In a recent homily, Archbishop O'Malley stated "If you are like those Catholics who come to Mass only when they are hatched, matched, and dispatched, then the gifts of the spirit will not be there for you when you need them." I agree with this, despite my own struggles to come to terms with Catholic teachings (abortion, homosexuality, etc). Sunday Mass reminds us of the spirit, and renourishes our own faith.

It's often been said that a church is not a building, but a community of people. In a few months, I'll be part of a small community of worshipers, looking for a new building.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Perfect Game

Randy Johnson threw a perfect game last night. I was struck by the rarity of this baseball event, forgetting the small difference between no-hitters and perfect games. If a no-hitter happens as often as a lunar eclipse, then a perfect game happens as often as the planets align.

My youngest brother used to let the computer simulate dozens (hundreds?) of baseball games. I remember him scanning the resulting box scores one evening, and exclaiming that in one of his simulated games, a pitcher threw a perfect game!

Sunday, May 16, 2004


The news is peppered with commencement speech summaries. Famous and notable people are making their way across college campuses, dispensing wisdom, proclaiming advice, exhorting action. I sometimes imagine myself addressing a high school or college graduation.

I'd remind students that commencement isn't about endings, but about beginnings (the word commence means 'to begin, to initiate'). I'd tell them to look back with pride, but look forward with excitement.

I'd advise them to listen to their hearts these next few tender years. What does your heart want to do? Don't question it! It doesn't know why. It wants what it wants. What do you want to do? You can listen to your heart when you're thirty or forty, but the chances of following your heart are strongest now.

I'd tell students what they don't want to hear: that time is short. You're only young once. Someday, you'll be weighed down with "practical matters": job, marriage, mortgage, children. You'll be ordinary like me, and you have to make the best of it, by being the person you want to be.

I'd ask parents to truly let go at this stage. I'd also ask the same of old friends. We have to let them go. We have to let them fly. We've given them our money, our support. Now let's give them their time.

People of accomplishment are favored speakers at commencement exercises, but living a good life is an accomplishment itself. And a good life can be had with simple lessons: listen and know yourself; be positive; be good. It shouldn't take a famous person to remind graduates of this.

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Is Thank You Ever Enough?

Happy Mother's Day!

I was chatting with someone about parenthood a few months ago, and he said "Being a parent is a hard road!"

In my house, Jenn's the one driving on that road. I'm somewhere in the back of the car, cowering in fear. When Mia had a bout of sleeping issues because of my new work schedule, Jenn figured out how to help Mia adjust. Whenever Mia develops some malady, Jenn takes her to the doctor. (Jenn sometimes jokes that I don't even know the doctor's name, but that's not true.) Jenn cooks for Mia. Jenn cleans Mia's clothes. Jenn does practically everything.

In the course of parenthood, finding new ways to be grateful becomes difficult. How often can one say Thank You? Is it ever enough? A day like today reminds us to appreciate.

I'm grateful. Thank you, Jenn. Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 7, 2004

Poison Ivy

In the course of my commute, I often walk through a small wooded area. Over the past few days I apparently have made contact with some poison ivy, and for the past few days, a very itchy rash has broken out on my forearms, up to my elbows. The itch is maddening, but I've been keeping things at bay with Gold Bond Triple Action Medicated body powder and plain old Hydrocortisone (in an over the counter cream).

Jim Dunphy has created the Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center, and it's a bonanza of information, including pertinent facts (it would only take 1/4 ounce of poison ivy oil (urushiol) to cause a rash for every person on the planet) and many pages describing ways to relieve the itching and rashing. The website contains various photos of poison ivy.

He hopes his site will bring some relief to those dealing with poison ivy. It has certainly been helpful for me.

Saturday, May 1, 2004


What's on my mind right now: My commute is a real bear! Mother's Day in one week (and yes, I have gotten gifts already). Really enjoying Train, by Pete Dexter. Missed the Kentucky Derby on television. New England Revolution (soccer) won their first match of the season (2-1 over Los Angeles Galaxy). Really want to get started editing my Jersey City footage. Have only written two letters out of the fifty I resolved to write on New Years. Mia's been having trouble sleeping lately (we think it's my work hours; I'm coming home much later). Haven't yet watched last the two episodes of the Sopranos which I've recorded.