A Tried and True Way

At the risk of sounding too much like an infamous contemporary tweeter who offered to send in the militia, I’d like to suggest a tried and true way to solve many if not all of our 21st Century Chicago problems. I didn’t invent this way and neither did Jane Addams whose story Amanda Forsythe tells so well in her 2012 YouTube video Jane Addams Founds Hull House in Chicago.

Jane Addams (1860 -1935) a wealthy heiress, not unlike the afore mentioned tweeter, from Northwestern Illinois with her friend Ellen Gates Starr, garnering financial and moral support from many of the wealthy women of Chicago, chose to purchase an old run down mansion in one of the worst parts of the city, that much like parts of today’s Chicago was facing unprecedented social upheaval, live there and open their home to the poor all around them. She truly got involved.

Ms. Addams was the first American Woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. She is credited with starting modern day social work, influencing people like Ethel Percy Andrus, foundress of AARP, establishing the first juvenile courts in the world which separated juvenile offenders from the adult population. This only begins to tell the story of a woman who had the courage to live a tried and true way, one not too different from St. Francis or St. Paul of the Cross.

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

A Tomorrow Called Hope

As a teacher, I always thought my first job was to create a safe space for all. If I was successful at that, then some learning on my students’ as well as my part could take place. I can’t tell you how amazed I was to see that the great Jesuit teacher of our day, Pope Francis agrees. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though, we had the same teacher.

Pope Francis in his April, 2017 TED Talk, Why the only future worth building includes everyone, tells us how to create this safe space, this safe world. We do this, Pope Francis tells us by understanding that none of exist except with each other, “none of us is an island”. Secondly, Pope Francis shares his dream of a world that recognizes that life is really about, loving one another. A life of love gives us a tomorrow called hope. Finally, he talks about a revolution that needs to take place, “the revolution of tenderness”.

This distilled version does no justice to the loving, hopeful version Pope Francis shares in his TED Talk.

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

Telling Our Stories

Before modern media, the community would gather around the fire in the evening to recount the days events as well as to tell the story of their tribe, it’s encounter with the earth and the world they knew. Today, especially at this time of the year, we do this in our homes, churches synagogues temples and mosques.

Nothing can ruin that sense of fellowship that sharing ones’ stories creates more than to have someone else tell our story, especially if they do that with a slant that suggests they are better than us. Chimamando Ngozi Adichie in her TEDGlobal 2009 talk The danger of a single story tells her story that sadly for the early part of her life, was defined by someone who knew nothing of her truth.

This past Monday, Jews around the world gathered for their sacred Seder meal where they retell their story. Starting today, the Christian world will gather to retell their story.

Sadly, many of the tribe will be missing at these gatherings. I’m not sure why, but if my experience as a gay man is not unlike theirs, I suspect they feel that their story isn’t as valid as the others who are gathering. Chimamando Ngozi Adichie uses the Igbo word nkali which translates to “greater than another” to explain her experience. I suspect many of us can relate to Chimamando and that word, nkali.

I pray that I always have the courage to tell my story and just as important, the humility to listen attentively to others as they tell theirs.

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

 

The Need for More

Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard claims to be a Marxist, a Groucho Marxist that is. In his TED Global 2014 talk, How to let altruism be your guide, he quotes Groucho as saying: “Why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?” Of course you’d expect that from Groucho the comedian, but from billionaire, Steve Forbes? Yes, Ricard also heard Mr. Forbes say the same thing on Fox News.

Thankfully, not everyone is like Mr. Forbes and Ricard gives us the science that demonstrates many people truly behave altruistically as well as that many more can be trained to act selflessly. He says his scientific demonstration and 2,000 years of contemplative experience validate that 20 minutes of quiet meditation a day for four weeks will bring about significant positive change in an individual’s brain activity making them more concerned for the well-being of others.

We can do something culturally as well. We can work for sustainable harmony. Ricard explains:

“Sustainable harmony means now we will reduce inequality. In the future, we do more with less, and we continue to grow qualitatively, not quantitatively. We need caring economics.”

Now why would anyone prefer altruism over selfishness? Besides making a better world for everyone on this planet, paradoxically it, more than all the material accumulation one can imagine, fills that need for more that we all experience. Thanks Matthieu.

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

Life/Work Balance

Governments and corporations are not going to solve the work/life balance we need in our life. So says Nigel Marsh in his How to make work-life balance work in his May 2010 TEDx Talk. In a short ten minutes he gives us four ways to make the balance. While I like his suggestions, his two-minute story of an evening with his youngest child at the end of his talk, convinced me of the urgency of such an endeavor.

For me, poet, novelist and environmentalist, Wendell Berry, gives a much clearer picture of what I need to do:

…According to him, the good life includes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life. (Wikipedia)

Not easy achievements in a 21st Century American city, but maybe, just maybe some of Berry’s ideas deserve our attention. Today a program such as The one-acre farm might just be the answer.

Why all this talk of environment, life/work balance on our Partners’ blog? The Old English word for healthy is holy. As Partners we strive for holiness. This necessarily involves all the above issues and probably some more. St. Benedict who talked about a life of prayer, study and work and St. Paul of the Cross who focused his life on keeping alive the memory of Jesus’ passion weren’t faced with the issues we are today. I believe if they were around today, these are the issues they would be preaching to us about.

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

Tell Your Story/Listen to Mine

Coming home from a political rally downtown I wondered to myself if there was any hope. Can we as a country ever come together? Can we stop our verbal attacks on each other just long enough to listen for a moment? How can we as Max Ehrmann suggests in his Desiderata “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” A possible answer came when I later watched and listened to Deeyah Khan’s April 2016 What we don’t know about Europe’s Muslim kids.

Deeyah has received awards for her documentary films and is the founder of Fuse, a company that gets minorities to tell their stories. Deyah’s story which she shares above is moving and truly for those of us that think in those terms, the Way of the Cross today. She also shares her discovery that the perpetrators of violence are themselves wounded persons and that if we are ever to move beyond more violence, we must learn to listen and understand.

In her TEDxExeter talk she quotes the African proverb: “If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.” While Deeyah is addressing the Muslim community, she could just as well be addressing Chicago, the Catholic Church, the schools…. We must she insists learn to relate and understand each other and listen to our young.

I believe the answer to my initial question, can we ever come together is—yes. We can if we come together to tell your stories and just as important listen to others’ stories with the same compassion we hope to receive when we tell ours.

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

 

pain

O pain,  here you are again.
I should be used to you.
You visit my Dad so often,
physical,  intense pain.
But you can’t stop him from being happy and kind.
You are no match for his beautiful and sweet  disposition.
Each new day,  with the  clouds or sunshine, brings him gratitude and joy.
He is so much stronger than you.

Pain.

You visit my heart. You pierce me by hurting my Dad.
I hate you but through  you,  I become closer to God.
I offer you up for  souls,  for Dad’s soul.
Every time you visit,  I cling to the  almighty with trust and joy.

 

img_20170118_201951Lisa-Marie who is relatively new to the Partners, is our first strictly online Partner. She attended a Passionist retreat in May of 2014 where: “I was then introduced to our sorrowful Mother. I now see the sufferings of Jesus in a whole new light and want to honor Mary by meditating on her sorrows and to permanently keep Christ’s passion in my heart.