Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm ready, almost

The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian SpiritualityTwo weeks until I leave, and the last recommended book I'm reading is really hitting home. Ronald Rolheiser uses honest, simple language in The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality to ask and answer what spirituality is and how to apply it. He makes no apologies for the claims he makes and I can't help but agree with his logic.

As I read it, a not-so-subtle voice in the back of my mind screams: "Embrace Chicago!" and I just know this coming year is going to be full of stretching and challenges. Then I just want to get there and it's like these last two weeks are a sort of limbo, a nothing time before the next chapter of my life starts. I guess maybe I should stop looking at this summer as a roadblock and realize it's been a great three months of contemplation and physically/spiritually/mentally readying myself.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Droid Does Scare Me.

When the Droid teaser commercials first started playing, I made one comment to Bailey: "It's cool, but don't you think calling it Droid is a little scary? First it's just a phone, pretty soon we turn into robots."

The next commercial I saw featured a human eyeball turning into a robot eyeball.

Even the slogan: "In a world that doesn't, Droid does," makes me think this company is building an army to replace us.

Their other commercial? Some guys in army-esque uniforms searching for a large rock. (meteor? unobtanium?) One guy puts his arm in the boulder and it becomes a robot arm.

This may be their aim, to scare us into buying,'s still a little weird to me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Can't Face the Truth, But I Can Read Some Books

Reality check: I'm leaving for Chicago in three weeks.

My program, MercyWorks sent me an orientation packet a while ago. I was super excited when it came, skimmed through it all, then got really apprehensive and anxious and shoved it under my bed, where it has stayed since. Not that I don't want to go to Chicago, or that I'm not more happy anxious than nervous anxious, but seeing everything on paper--schedules, what to bring, contact list--whoa. I guess a part of me doesn't want to mess anything up, and the best way to do that is to ignore things, right?

I did pull out the suggested reading list, and I've been plugging away at the eleven books meant to get us into the simple living/social justice/professional development/service/spirituality/community mindset. Some of them were real flops (a guide on simple living, for example, which suggested things like growing a weed garden instead of spending so much time on landscaping), but most were worthy of my summer freedom.

There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in The Other AmericaThere Are No Children Here - Alex Kotlowitz
This book held my interest mostly due to its setting in Chicago. I know basically nothing about the Windy City, and this sociological snapshot of two brothers growing up in Chicago helped to ground my own thoughts of moving there for a year. My first weeks of living in Rome felt like a story happening to someone else, and I'm pretty sure Chicago could feel that way as well.

Doing the Truth in Love: Conversations About God, Relationships, and ServiceDoing the Truth in Love - Fr. Michael Himes
For me, this book served to reaffirm my decision to enter into a year of service. So many of Fr. Himes' insights resonated with my beliefs that actions speak volumes. We might speak a truth, but in actuality we "do" Truth all the time. Everything we do shows others the Truth we believe.

The Different Drum: Community Making and PeaceThe Different Drum: Community Making and Peace - M. Scott Peck
The thing I'm probably most looking forward to for this year is living in community with thirteen other like-minded people. I imagine it's going to be like Real World: Chicago, only with a faith and service twist. The thing is, community doesn't just happen. This book describes the typical phases a community goes through, the struggles, and the immense benefits community brings. You'll also notice the subtitle is community making and peace, NOT peace making and community. Most people feel as though we must reach world peace before we can begin the process of creating a world community. Not so, says Scotty. First we must make a community, then peace will naturally follow.

My Life With the SaintsMy Life With the Saints - James Martin, SJ
This memoir, the story of one man's spiritual journey, was a fun read. Each chapter introduced a different saint whose life had affected the writer's. The book also underlined the idea of a communion of saints, a community of believers--the idea that we are all maybe not saints, but saintly, and as such can find kindred souls among the saints.

The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social ActivistThe Long Loneliness - Dorothy Day
One of James Martin's influences, Dorothy Day honestly reveals her spiritual struggles in her autobiography. I just started this one, but Dorothy's self-effacing tone and blatant honesty makes it an easy, if not introspective, read. I already see a lot of Dorothy in myself, especially her thoughts on writing: "Writing a book is hard, because you are 'giving yourself away.' But if you love, you want to give yourself....You write about yourself because in the long run all man's problems are the same, his human needs of sustenance and love."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Me: How old are you, Walter?
Walter: Ninety-nine or so.
Sophie: I'm over one hundred!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Independence Day

The road stretches north for miles, only ending where it meets the sky and seems to drop off into nothingness. Nothingness. We are surrounded by nothing and everything. It's the kind of scenery that un-anchors me, leaving me floating somewhere at the back of my skull, while at the same time it rushes towards me with all the power and grace of a well-established forest. It's the kind of scenery that makes it okay to think these words.

We pass city limit signs for places small enough to claim the "Mighty Midgets" as their hometown mascots without anyone really caring. Places where ruffed grouse (Grouses? Groose?) come a dime a dozen. We imagine the people who live in these places fall into one of two camps: those who wear socks under their sandals and those who wear socks under their lace-up boots.

When I first found out the slogan was "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee" I got upset. I always thought it was "Nobody does it like Sara Lee." I don't know why I remember that now. The pause between conversation topics grows to a clean break of silence separating declarations of side roads with funny names. Kumdinger Drive. Cutoff Road, which would be funnier if there was a bar somewhere along it. Most likely there is.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mixed Media II

The only tape player
in our house
is nailed
to the kitchen cupboard.

That's where I have to sit
if I want to listen
to the books on tape
that I wish were
books on CD.