Thank You—The Perfect Prayer

I don’t often feel like a millionaire, in fact I probably more often feel like just another descendent of immigrant grandparents who is blessed with many gifts, i.e. an education, a roof over my head, healthy food to eat and a faith that tells me life is good. Despite this general feeling of well-being, I don’t often say thank you. I need times like our annual Thanksgiving rituals to remind me to do so.

Tania Luna did not experience life so good. At the age of six, as a refugee from the 1968 Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident she dreamt and hoped for a piece of of Bazooka bubble gum. Ten years after arriving in the United States, she decided to celebrate by returning to book a room at the first hotel they stayed in on coming to the U.S. only to find out it’s a homeless shelter. Tania’s July 2012 TED Talk, How a penny made me feel like a millionaire, reminds me to say thank you.

According to Beliefnet, Meister Eckhart (1260–1328) a mystical Dominican theologian said: “If the only prayer you say in your life is “thank you,” that would suffice.” (Passionists will note that St. Paul of the Cross was a follower of John Tauler (1300 – 1361) who was greatly influenced by Eckhart. Wikipedia tells us further that Tauler followed Eckhard in his work with pious lay groups called Friends of God, probably not unlike the Passionist Partners of today.)

Today, I will take the time to say thank you. Thank you to my family, my friends and my faith, all of whom support me and give me love, hope and a life filled with many blessings. Thank You!

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Facing the Enemy

Once in awhile someone’s story really connects me to my life like no other. I am a fighter by nature and that is good as long as I recognize the enemy, me. I must admit that most of the time, I make the mistake and think you, whether you are a religious or political leader or just my next-door neighbor are the enemy. Less often, I recognize the enemy, me and go about making the necessary changes to subdue the foe. I could tell you of a few experiences in my life that illustrate that, but none would begin to compare to Suzanne Barakat’s story as she tells it in her TEDWomen October 2016 talk: Islamophobia killed my brother. Let’s end the hate.

This sentiment, that I am the enemy, is in direct conflict with what I’ve seen in this past presidential campaign season where the candidates spent all their time telling us about the enemy, their opponent. I don’t think we came up with any winner, but actually a bunch of losers. I put myself in that bunch. It’s time to face the enemy, ourselves and thank you Ms. Barakat for showing us how.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

 

Let’s Stop the Rhetoric and Tell Our Story

“No had never been an option. “Just do it,” she said, “and don’t be what you’re not.” (Tan Le)

There are two things I hope I never forget, family and family. My birth family combined first and fifth generation Americans resulting as you might expect in some lack of understanding or appreciation by certain members. I learned of this retrospectively in the listening to our stories as told especially at holidays.

Birth families while so formational need not, and I believe, should not determine or limit our understanding of who we are. I’ve been reminded this past week how knowing another’s story can lessen the fear of the other when I took the time to listen to Tan Le’s 2011 TEDx talk, My Immigration story. Tan Le’s story while much different from my father’s parent’s story who came from Ireland gave me an appreciation of other immigrants struggles maybe much more challenging than that of my grandparents.

So much of the rhetoric of the past nine months leaves out the stories that inform true understanding. Struggles, challenges (crosses) along with triumphs and joy make us who we are. My family story like Tan Le’s while totally different is at the same time totally the same.

I just wonder maybe if we spent more time, sharing our stories and less time explaining how we are different, maybe we’d be more understanding, but then that probably wouldn’t sell news programs. Happy holidays and happy listening and sharing.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Feel Your Vulnerability

Before TV had taken us hostage, yearly religious gatherings like Christian Revivals, Jewish High Holy Days, Chautauquas or the Muslim Hajj, brought communities together face to face in hopes of renewal. The community I grew up in called those meetings, Missions. Once a year for an entire week, members of our parish, Immaculate Conception, would come out each evening to see and listen to the preaching of the visiting Passionist missionary. The week climaxed with his sermon on the passion of Jesus. There he stood on a stage three feet above the already raised sanctuary with a larger than life crucifix at his side, telling the story of the life and death of one young Jewish man, Jesus. He had me and I suspect the rest of the community, totally mesmerized. Somehow in the retelling of this story, I made sense of my life’s experiences, especially that of the death of my mother when I was ten.

Alas, those days are gone for many. The community no longer gathers en masse at the local church to be inspired and to learn how to make sense of the joys, the suffering and the movement of our journeys through time.

A modern update of that Passionist missionary, for me anyway, is Alyssa Monks, a graduate of Boston College and the New York Academy of Art. Ms. Monks is a three-time awardee of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant for Painting, a member of the New York Academy of Art’s Board of Trustees. She took me back to the days of my childhood, when I watched her TED Talk, “How loss helped one artist find beauty in imperfection”. Like the Passionist preacher of my childhood, she helped me make sense of the joy, the suffering, the deaths and the movement of my life. Thanks Alyssa.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey