I Went to That Game With Your Grandmother

        A couple of weeks ago I got to go to a football game with my son Danny.  But not just any football game, “THE” football game.  The BCS Championship bowl game between the Florida Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners.  Okay so that may not mean much to you, but for football fans, it meant the hottest ticket in town.  Never mind how we came across the two tickets, the sweet thing is that my hubby, being the great guy that he is (plus it doesn’t hurt that he’s a UM alumnus and a Gator-hater), offered his seat to me saying “You went to that school, so you go.” To which I promptly responded, “Okay.”  Don’t need to tell you the look on his face.   Gator-hater and all, he was as excited about the opportunity of going to the game as I was.  But like I said, he’s a great guy.

        Terrific, except I figured my son would not be down for the deal because what 13-year old boy wants to be seen at such gigantic event with his mother? I mean, sure, Danny and I are close, he’s my grocery shopping partner, we bike ride, toss the ball around some (I happen to like sports), and even slap each other around often (that game I’m gonna have to put an end to soon if I don’t wanna end up getting hurt, given his growth spurts as of late).  But the bottom line is that he and Dad are skin-tight, and big football games belong to fathers and sons.  So I thought nah, this isn’t gonna fly.  I think my husband thought the same thing.  Until Danny said he really didn’t care much who took him as long as he got to go.  Such tactfulness…NOT!  Great timing for it though… wink, wink.   During the next few days, however, I did have second thoughts about going.  Being the big game it was I wondered whether he would have a good time going with me.  But instead of folding, I started seeing in this the opportunity for us to make one of those lasting memories together.  The kind he would tell his own kids about.  At least that’s what I hoped it would be.

        Game day came and my hubby dropped us off at the stadium (all the limos in town had been rented…no, not really).  We power-walked through the parking lot amidst a slew of tailgating fans who looked like they had been there a wee-bit too long if you know what I mean.  For a minute there it sorta felt like we were “walking the line.”  But since no one had won or lost yet, everyone was in good spirits so we made it in safe.  We entered our gate and took our seats.  Three seconds later we were gone for food and memorabilia.  Danny and I walked like crazies scouting the stadium stores and concession stands.  We returned junk food loaded, heavy on orange and blue beads, and sporting Gator sweatshirts.  Well what did you expect; we had to look the part, no?

        As kickoff time neared, the stadium filled with a sea of orange and blue.  It almost seemed the entire Gainesville population was at Dolphin Stadium, which by the way saw its largest crowd ever to watch a football game there.  Talk about home field advantage.  It felt like I was back at the Swamp.  Trust me, I remember it still.  Yikes!   So far we were having a good time and the game hadn’t even started.  Once it did though, things got serious and down to business.  We had a job to do. To roar at the top of our lungs, and even louder on third downs.  That was our job and we did it dutifully and proudly.  HA!  It was fun. So far Danny looked like he was having a good time.  I was glad about that.  By the time half-time came around, our ears were ringing.  We needed a break so we went inside for some more food and some more junk to buy.  This time a disposable camera since with all the excitement during drop off, we both forgot our digital in the limo, I mean the SUV.  Our stroll around the lounge area included an unexpected bump into Bob Costas, yeah you know, that giant of the sportscasting world; figuratively that is, because the guy is Danny’s size, we almost missed him.  We rushed back for the second half and made our way to our seats high-fiving everyone in our row because by this time in a football game if you’re not at that point with those around you, you’re a dead beat.  And my son and I weren’t there to be deadbeats.  No, we weren’t, and we got pictures to prove it.

        The second half was even louder.  The day after the game I read an article which said that a field-level decibel-reading devise indicated the noise during parts of the game was equal to that of a jet engine.  The entire game was like that, but even more so during the fourth quarter.  I don’t think we sat down but a few minutes all game long.  Danny and I cheered along with every other rooter to every single cheer there was, Gator chomping along to the theme of Jaws and in the face of every Sooner we saw.   It was fun, to say the least.  Especially since the Gators won.  We stayed through the end of the trophy presentation, as we sat back in our seats totally exhausted by this time, and watched Tebow and his John 3:16 scripture painted face walk around the stadium shaking hands with fans.

        Meanwhile, across the highway, our chauffeur was maneuvering through the traffic madness. We eventually made our long walk back to our pick up point, somewhere out there around the stadium, where we met up with the limo, I mean the SUV, as it swiftly picked us up while still in movement.  Yeah there was no going around again for that driver, the poor guy.  Thank you honey for giving up your seat and for so graciously getting us there and back.  As we sat there tired, our voices hoarse, and our heart rates just then returning to normal, Dad asked, “How was it?”  — “Awesome,” his son said.  So it sounded like I had held my own, scoring about an 8 in the “football buddy” department, with zero embarrassments.  I did wait for him outside the men’s bathroom, but c’mon, what you want from me?  

        In the end, I thank God for the opportunity He gave me to make yet another lasting memory.  One I will hold dear and high up there with those to come — his graduation, his wedding, his children’s births….But it was just a football game you say.  Not to me. And I hope one day, if and when the topic arises while reminiscing with one of his own, he’ll say, “That game? Oh yeah, I went to that game with your grandmother.  It was wild….”    : )

-by Connie Perez

Worth Watching: 22 Weeks

Here’s a low budget film which was released late in 2008.  The film “22 Weeks” shows the hidden side of abortion.  It is based on the shocking World Net Daily article by Ron Strom, about a woman in her 30s named Angele who went for an abortion at an Orlando clinic in April 2005, while 22 weeks pregnant.  The film is scheduled to be shown in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, the day before the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, and the annual March for Life protesting the decision.  The official web site for the film is http://22weeksthemovie.com/index-flash.html, and you can go to http://22weeksthemovie.com/ to check screening dates, to purchase the DVD, or to request a screening of the film in your school or community.

The abortion controversy stems out of some people’s adamant and sometimes prideful fight for a “woman’s choice.”  But at what price? is this blogger’s incessant question.

Source:  YouTube

Book List 3

More books I recommend (most current read on top). You can click on the links to read about them. Note: For you Spanish speaking folks, the titles marked with an asterisc are a better read in Spanish.

Nieve en la Haban: Confesiones de un Cubanito* by Carlos Eire

The Shack by William P. Young

How Good Do We Have to Be? A New Understanding of Guilt and Foregiveness
by Harold S. Kushner

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Brida by Paulo Coelho

A Day With a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny
by Robin S. Sharma

365 new ones!

Family and friends – We are hours away from welcoming a new year…PHEW!! 2008 has been a duzy that’s for sure. Anyone out there who did not fear they could end up living on the streets by year’s end raise your hand…anyone?…anyone?….Right, I thought so. This year brought us the collapse of banks, the stock market, and the U.S. auto industry, sending many to the unemployment line. And all courtesy of the third deadly sin: Greed. Greed on the part of the companies that enticed us with their rose-colored avarice; and greed on the part of the consumers who, despite their own economic hardships, thought that bigger and better than their neighbor meant happier. Luckily we’re all quick studies. Hopefully, no?This year also brought us the continuation of the never-ending Middle East chaos, which sometimes looked like child’s play in comparison to the atrocities being committed right here in our homeland by some of the less than human and more possessed-like individuals to make the freak list. Unreal! Oh, and yes of course, it brought us a new president…uhum uhum….

It wasn’t all bad though, and many of us triumphed as we fought tooth and nail to overcome whatever stones patterned our paths. Fortunately for us, the infinite grace of God once again held our planet together yet another year, despite our relentless attempts to destroy it and everything in it. May He continue to be ever so merciful, is all I can say.

Meanwhile, my sincere best wishes go out to all of you for a healthy and happy 2009. May the Lord provide you with a daily dose of serenity, strength, courage and wisdom. God bless you, and your 365 new ones!

I leave you with a recipe for a Happy New Year that I found recently:  

    Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

    Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing— don’t do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution. Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.


Every Man For Himself

A good friend of mine e-mailed me today writing:

I have a question…and since you are the Cuban Dalai Lama, I thought I’d address it to you.  If the government has the money to (possibly) lend the automakers a gazillion dollars … why doesn’t it have the money to fund our schools, provide medicine for the sick, feed the hungry and house the homeless?  I’m thinking of writing a letter on this very subject to our President-elect.  Because these are issues that truly bother me.  I have a family in my development that is facing serious economic problems.  These are honest, decent, hardworking people.  He had two accidents, one work-related, another was a car crash, and was unable to work for almost a year.  She works cleaning houses, takes in sewing, laundry, you name it, she does it.  Because of the economy, two of the houses she cleaned weekly have stopped using her services.  She’s down to one house.  She made pillow shams and seat covers for my sofa, did a splendid job and charged me a very reasonable rate.  Then I thought, well, I go to the laundry and spend money there, maybe she could do that for me and I’ll pay her what I pay the laundry.  Done deal.  She also makes and sells croquetas (I’m a steady customer).  He can’t find a job (he’s a welder).  They have exhausted their savings and were unable to meet their rent for this month, so they got an eviction notice.  They are expecting a settlement check from one of his accidents, to the tune of approximately $5,000 (the attorney got the larger chunk).  They went to their attorney yesterday, eviction notice in hand, to see if he could do something about getting their money now.  He said there’s nothing he can do, it’s a process.  The other case is still in the settlement process, or so their attorney tells them.  So … they could be out on the street. They went to the management office and explained their situation, they gave them until the 15th and then they’ll start eviction proceedings.  They don’t live in a luxury apartment, their place is identical to mine, one bedroom/one bath.  It’s a blue collar neighborhood.  It hurts to see this.  It hurts even more to see the government mulling over the possibility of lending billions to automakers who gad about in their private jets.  In the words of Chris Rock “that ain’t right.”  I am having a very hard time dealing with this, it’s very frustrating.  At their church, their pastor got him a job delivering newspapers, minimum wage.  You should see them, they have such faith and they know they will get through this.
Okay, I have vented … I have unloaded.  Feedback please.

I happen to share in my friend’s frustration. This family’s story is one I hear often nowadays…about friends of my friends, about friends of my mother’s…it’s everywhere, it seems most of us know someone being put through the wringer by this economy. Meanwhile, our government gets in bed with these mega-companies, I think not so much to save the day as to get to own a piece of the pie, as this latest deal indicates. There is no piece of pie to be had in funding schools, providing medicine for the sick, feeding the hungry, or housing the homeless. Do you see? The standing economy will make the rich richer (as there is much money to be made off the inopportuneness of others), make the middle class sweat it out (as most of us consider gambling with our children’s future too high a risk), and make or break the poor (as necessity is the mother of invention).

As for this family she talks about, we should take comfort in knowing that they are so faithful, because that is precisely the one thing that will get them through this, not our government. Because the only words I hear lately from the political powers that be, reverberate that old familiar Spanish saying that goes: “Salvese el que pueda.”

It is frustrating indeed. But, just because our government’s thinking is “every man for himself,” doesn’t mean ours, the people’s, has to be, no? We can certainly have a hand in bailing out one another.


Geez, we should all be so disabled.

        I have this student, let’s call him Joe.  He’s kind of slow, a bit mentally challenged; enough to be labeled with a disability.  I gotta tell you though that if Joe’s disability has something to do with the reasoning he exhibits, maybe more of us should suffer from the same kind of disability.

        I’ve had the opportunity to observe him for a few weeks now.  This fourteen year old, despite his slowness, seems to be in tune with what matters.  This past Saturday I asked the kids to take out a piece of paper for an activity.  Of course there is always someone in class without paper who has to borrow from the others.  This was the case last week with one of the kids sitting at Joe’s table (they sit 4 to a table, as I teach in the school’s art room).  While the other students at his table were oblivious to this kid’s need for paper, before he even asked, Joe was handing him one.  I’ve seen him do this kind of thing time and again for the other students.  Always attuned to their needs.

        I proceeded with the activity and asked them to list ten things for which they are thankful.   Joe is a slow thinker and writer, but the kid managed to finish that list before anyone else, listing things such as family, school, friends, food, while some of the other kids’ minds were bogged down with so many material things they just didn’t know which ones to write first.

        Even though he seems to be far off somewhere, he lives in constant awareness.  His mind is occupied with what’s in front of him only.  And I believe this is what allows him to be so in tune with those around him and their needs.  With us, if we seem to be far off somewhere is probably because we are.  I know half the time our minds are preoccupied with legit concerns, I grant you that, but the other half of the time they are so full of insignificant material, it seems like there’s almost no room in there for what’s important, what’s essential — the now — that which is right in front of us.

        Later, I spent part of that class talking about siblings and the importance of that relationship in our lives.  Some of the kids shared their own sibling experiences, some of which were pure nightmares.  And during the break, Joe came to me and said: “My sister thinks I invade her privacy so sometimes we fight.  When I go home now how can I get near her so she doesn’t think I’m doing that…I don’t want her to hate me.”  The genuine concern in the tone of his voice, coming from a person like him, broke my heart and at the same time put a smile on my face. 

        I don’t think I need to explain to you why.  All I’ll say is that at that moment, and after what I had witnessed from him throughout that class, I thought to myself, geez, we should all be so disabled.


“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.”
-James Thurber

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.
-Henry Miller

Rhyme and Reason: Thankful

We are entering the time of the year in which we are reminded the most about giving thanks. We all know giving thanks should be a year-long habit, and most of us do try to make it so, but still, it’s never more present in our minds than when the holidays roll around. Let’s remind ourselves of the importance of giving daily thanks. : )
“A Thanksgiving Thought”

When you woke up this morning And washed your sleepy face, Did you think to pause a minute or two And thank God for His grace? Or when you stepped outside today And you saw that big blue sky, And that shinin’ sun that smiles on you Like the Lord was sayin’ “Hi”… Did you stop to pray and thank the Lord For the good He sends your way, For His matchless love and His endless care That He pours out everyday?

How would you rate At the Pearly Gate If God said, “Don’t you know… You’ve as many days As you filled with praise When you walked down there below!”

Would you get to spend Just a short weekend Or a half a dozen worth, If He let you stay For each single day That you thanked Him while on earth?

While it sure is great That we celebrate What we call Thanksgiving Day, And it’s fun to see All the family And to watch the children play… Still, it just seems odd That we thank our God Only when Thanksgiving’s here, For it seems to me Giving thanks should be Every day throughout the year!
-Connie Hinnen Cook

“Thanksgiving Every Day”

The table is brimming with good things to eat; We’re surrounded by family and friends; what a treat. The feelings that fill us today can’t be beat; It’s Thanksgiving Day, and it all feels complete.

But other days, sometimes things don’t seem so fine; Those days are not polished and don’t seem to shine. It’s then in our minds, we forget all the good, And think of the things we would get, if we could.

On days when our thinking causes us dread, If we could remember, it’s all in our head, And not let our minds take our gratitude away, Then we’d make every day like Thanksgiving Day.
-Karl Fuchs

“A Prayer of Thanksgiving”

Let us give thanks…

For generous friends…with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we had them;

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn — and the others — as plain as potatoes, and so good for you.

For funny friends, who are as silly as brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions;

For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who — like parsnips — can be counted on to see you through the long winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around as like tendrils, and hold us despite our blights, wilts, and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past, that have been harvested – but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;

For all these we give thanks.
– Max Coots


“I’ll Sit Here and Pray”

So I’ll sit here now and I’ll pray to You (‘though I can’t really say why), as the walls collapse around me and my loved ones suffer and die, and my health gives way and bills pile up and time slips too quickly past, as I count all the joys life’s denied me, and those that didn’t last. I’ll offer You thanks, my Creator, for the gifts You’ve yet to repeal; for walking and vision and laughter, for music, and dreams that seem real, for people who love me and seasons that change, for my body’s own memories of love, and I’ll sit here and pray in the darkness, for all the good it does.

-Veronica A. Shoffstall 

En Español: Poesías de José Martí

José Julián Martí Pérez nació en La Habana, el 28 de enero de 1853, de padres españoles. Patriota y escritor cubano, apóstol de la independencia de Cuba.

Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca

Cultivo una rosa blanca, En julio como en enero, Para el amigo sincero Que me da su mano franca.

Y para el cruel que me arranca El corazón con que vivo, Cardo ni oruga cultivo: Cultivo la rosa blanca.
José Martí

Cuba Nos Une

Cuba nos une en extranjero suelo, Auras de Cuba nuestro amor desea: Cuba es tu corazón, Cuba es mi cielo, Cuba en tu libro mi palabra sea.
José Martí
Cuando Me Puse a Pensar

Cuando me puse a pensar La razón me dio a elegir Entre ser quien soy, o ir El ser ajeno a emprestar,

Mas me dije: si el copiar Fuera ley, no nacería Hombre alguno, pues haría Lo que antes de él se ha hecho: Y dije, llamando al pecho, ¡Sé quien eres, alma mía!?
José Martí

Los Zapaticos de Rosa

Hay sol bueno y mar de espuma,
Y arena fina, y Pilar
Quiere salir a estrenar
Su sombrerito de pluma.

-«¡Yaya la niña divina!»
Dice el padre, y le da un beso.
-«¡Vaya mi pájaro preso
A buscarme arena fina!»

-«Yo voy con mi niña hermosa»-
Le dijo la madre buena.
«¡No te manches en la arena
Los zapaticos de rosa!»

Fueron las dos al jardín
Por la calle del laurel:
La madre cogió un clavel
Y Pilar cogió un jazmín.

Ella va de todo juego,
Con aro, balde y paleta.
El balde es color violeta;
El aro es color de fuego.

Vienen a verlas pasar:
Nadie quiere verlas ir:
La madre se echa a reir,
Y un viejo se echa a llorar.

El aire fresco despeina
A Pilar, que viene y va
Muy oronda: «Dí, mamá:
¿Tú sabes qué cosa es reina?»

Y por si vuelven de noche
De la orilla de la mar,
Para la madre y Pilar
Manda luego el padre el coche.

Está la playa muy linda:
Todo el mundo está en la playa:
Lleva espejuelos el aya
De la francesa Florinda.

Está Alberto, el militar
Que salió en la procesión
Con tricornio y con bastón,
Echando un bote a la mar.

¡Y qué mala, Magdalena,
Con tantas cintas y lazos,
A la muñeca sin brazos
Enterrándola en la arena!

Conversan allá en las sillas,
Sentadas con los señores,
Las señoras, como flores,
Debajo de las sombrillas.

Pero está con estos modos
Tan serios, muy triste el mar:
¡Lo alegre es allá, al doblar,
En la barranca de todos!

Dicen que suenan las olas
Mejor allá en la barranca,
Y que la arena es muy blanca
Donde están las niñas solas.

Pilar corre a su mamá:
-«¡Mamá, yo voy a ser buena;
Déjame ir sola a la arena:
Allá, tú me ves, allá!»

-¡«Esta niña caprichosa!
No hay tarde que no me enojes:
Anda, pero no te mojes
Los zapaticos de rosa».

Le llega a los pies la espuma:
Gritan alegres las dos:
Y se va, diciendo adiós,
La del sombrero de pluma.

¡Se va allá, donde ¡muy lejos!
Las aguas son más salobres,
Donde se sientan los pobres,
Donde se sientan los viejos!

Se fue la niña a jugar,
La espuma blanca bajó,
Y pasó el tiempo, y pasó
Un águila por el mar.

Y cuando el Sol se ponía
Detrás de un monte dorado.
Un sombrerito callado
Por las arenas venía.

Trabajaba mucho, trabajaba
Para andar; ¿qué es lo que tiene
Pilar, que anda así, que viene
Con la cabecita baja?

Bien sabe la madre hermosa
Por qué le cuesta el andar;
-«¿Y los zapatos, Pilar,
Los zapaticos de rosa?

-«¡Ah, loca! ¿en dónde estarán?
¡Dí, dónde, Pilar!» -«Señora-
Dice una mujer que llora-,
¡Están conmigo; aquí están!»

-«Yo tengo una niña enferma
Que llora en el cuarto obscuro,
Y la traigo al aire puro
A ver el Sol, y a que duerma.

«Anoche soñó, soñó
Con el cielo, y oyó un canto:
Me dió miedo, me dió espanto,
Y la traje, y se durmió.

«Con sus dos brazos menudos
Estaba como abrazando;
Y yo mirando, mirando
Sus piesecitos desnudos.

«Me llegó al cuerpo la espuma,
Alcé los ojos, y ví
Esta niña frente a mí
Con su sombrero de pluma.

«¡Se parece a los retratos
Tu niña» -dijo-. «¿Es de cera?
¿Quiere jugar? ¡Si quisiera!…
¿Y por qué está sin zapatos?

-«Mira: ¡la mano le abrasa,
Y tiene los pies tan fríos!
Oh, toma, toma los míos;
Yo tengo más en mí casa!»

«No sé bien, señora hermosa,
Lo que sucedió después:
¡Le ví a mi hijita en los pies
Los zapaticos de rosa!»

Se vió sacar los pañuelos
A una rusa y a una inglesa;
El aya de la francesa
Se quitó los espejuelos.

Abrió la madre los brazos.
Se echó Pilar en su pecho,
Y sacó el traje deshecho,
Sin adornos y sin lazos.

Todo lo quiere saber
De la enferma la señora:
¡No quiere saber que llora
De pobreza una mujer!

-«¡Si, Pilar, dáselo! Y eso
También! ¡Tu manta! ¡Tu anillo!
Y ella le dió su bolsillo:
Le dio el clavel, le dió un beso.

Vuelven calladas de noche
A su casa del jardín,
Y Pilar va en el cojín
De la derecha del coche.

Y dice una mariposa
Que vió desde su rosal
Guardados en un cristal
Los zapaticos de rosa.
José Martí



How That Book Cover Totally Threw Me Off

        I should know better than to judge one of them.  I DO know better.  After all, one of the things I discuss with my students about the issue of judgment is the predicament it puts us in, and the consequences that follow.  So you would think I could practice what I preach, especially when it comes to them.  Well, I try; I SO do try not to judge a book by its cover.

        Our society has raised us to judge on the basis of many things:  sex, race, religion, appearance, you name it.  And I admit to you that I for one am guilty of conforming to this more often that I care to, occasionally jumping to conclusions about people when I know I shouldn’t.  So as part of my responsibilities as a Christian, I talk to my students about the problem that judging is — and I call it a problem because that’s exactly what it is.  Just like us grown-ups, except actually at a higher level, teenagers get caught up in what our society feeds them about looks, behaviors, relationships, etc.  Their need to fit in and be accepted often distorts how they view and treat others.  So my students and I discuss this.  I think I’ve been discussing this with them for most of the 30 years I’ve been teaching, so you would think I have it down.  Yet, every once in a while I get caught up in that awful trap too.  After all, as fitting or not as the judgment may be, the cover is still the first thing a person sees.

        Recently, one of my students showed up to class with her bottom lip pierced, twice over.  Right…ouch.  Given that it was just the second class of the term, and I didn’t know much about this group yet, I was immediately consumed by judgment.  She happens to also dress a bit gothic.  So right off the bat, I labeled her.  Not much was revealed about her in the couple of weeks that followed, as she kept to herself, and so the label stuck.  Then came the class during which I give them an assignment to write about an encounter they have with Jesus, detailing when and where it takes place, what is said, describing Him, etc.  As you can imagine, I always get back very interesting essays.  But let me just say without beating around the bush any longer, that hers blew my mind.  I found myself reading the name on top of the page more than once to make sure it wasn’t someone else’s paper I was reading.  I wish I could show you, but I don’t publish my students’ writings, only quote excerpts.  I can tell you, however, this essay was almost grammatically perfect, well structured, and most importantly, imaginative to the tenth power:  “…[He] opened his hands and formed them into a bowl…showed me…the light flashing at my face…said if I can spread the word of God and follow his laws, I will go here…he closed his hands and the kingdom of God disappeared…He smiled and said ‘be candid and love everything and everyone around you’…then he disappeared.”  This essay that to me appeared to be written by such an unlikely source, was full of hopeful connotations sounding well beyond the author’s years; a piece containing lines contradicting of her appearance.  “Tisk, tisk,” I thought, “shame on you Connie.”

        As Christians we are supposed to see, or at least look for, the godly side in our fellow human beings, first and foremost.  Despite the pressures society puts on us to form these preconceptions, we should, we must, try our darnedest to overcome the temptation to judge others and set them aside from the outset because they don’t seem to meet our prerequisites.  Sometimes the judgment fits but other times it doesn’t.  And think of what’d be at stake if we erred; what we’d risk losing — the opportunity to get to know someone; the opportunity to make a life-long friendship; or even the opportunity to learn from a student.  

Thank heavens for the continuing reminders that life throws at us.
– by Connie Perez

Never judge a man by his umbrella. It may not be his.
– Anonymous

If you judge people you have no time to love them.
– Mother Teresa


Invoking Those Interceders

The other day my son asked me to help him with a project on saints that he was asked to do for his religion class. He had to choose three saints and write about them, and he said there were so many of them that he wanted to know if I thought the ones he had chosen were good picks. I suggested we go down the long and distinguished list of saints and see who was who.Saints, as some of you may know, are those people who were persecuted and martyred for their Christian faith, or who lived their lives generally as holy people. Those who through their extraordinary lives of virtue, upon entering Heaven, are believed to share in what is called the Beatific Vision, a face-to-face experience of the presence of God, and are thereby able to provide assistance to us mortals when we ask through prayers directed at them. My son was amazed to see how many there are and that there is a patron saint for practically every area of life you can think of — St. Jude, patron saint of desperate cases; St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers, St. Mark, patron saint of lawyers (what? lawyers?) — and the list goes on.

To some people this might seem almost comical, I know. But I must tell you that I believe in them. I am a devout follower of some of them and carry their prayer cards around in my wallet. Sort of a security blanket deal. I have friends who do as well. Recently, one of them was in dire need of selling her home, and began praying to the patron saint of this cause. She prayed and prayed and prayed, but became discouraged when time went by and her prayers seemed to be to no avail. It is quite frustrating when we think our prayers are falling on deaf ears. I’ve been there. And as I told my friend on a day when she was experiencing that frustration, I am still waiting to see the results I want from some of my petitions…the results “I” want…which lack thereof could only mean they are not the results God intends. Because in the end, our beloved saints are merely interceders who, like us, have to plead our cases to a higher power. This sometimes takes a long time, and even then, they may be turned down by Him for a better result for us.

So why pray to the saints then? Well, why not? Don’t you ask friends, sometimes even strangers, for help? I for one like believing there is someone besides me, someone out there in the spiritual world, pleading my case and pulling for me. Listen, life gets rough sometimes, and if you believed there were saints out there who’d be more than willing to work for your cause, you’d pray to Santa Barbara, San Lazaro, y la Caridad del Cobre if you could.

Although we are strong in our faith in God the Creator, the omnipresent, omnipotent, all knowing, all wise and most merciful Heavenly Father, and through our prayers we intend to give our troubles to Him, some of us choose to call upon the saints as well for assistance. After all, they are mentioned in the Bible, and for the faithful, they are there for the taking. In time, my friend’s prayers were answered; allowing her to move to the next chapter of her life, but it took much faith and patience on her part. It is said that patience is a virtue. But darn, how much patience we gotta have to have patience! Especially when invoking those Interceders.

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.” – Soren Kierkegaard