Thanks a Thousand

I find saying “thank you” a real  chore, one I often put off so long I actually end up avoiding it completely. I know saying thanks can instantly change my thinking and my acting for the better. Knowing however for me is not doing. In his June 2018 TED Talk My journey to thank all the people responsible for my morning coffee, author AJ Jacobs tells about how his journey to say thanks woke him up to the tremendous inter-connectedness of us all.

Jacobs gives us five simple actions to try if we want to grow in awareness and thanks:

  1. “Look up
  2. Smell the roses, dirt and fertilizer
  3. Find the hidden masterpieces all around you
  4. Fake it until you feel it
  5. Practice six degrees of gratitude.”

This awareness Jacobs says leads us to wonder and joy. I experimented this past week, testing his claim. I got up one morning and even before my morning coffee, meditation or shower, I sat down and wrote a friend a thank you note. It worked! It truly started my day on a positive note, so much so that I vowed to do it every morning. I’m afraid, I already broke my vow, but now I have another something to work on. I hope you’ll hear more about this promise in the future.

Thank you for reading this far and Happy Thanksgiving 2018.

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who 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

Who Will I Feed Today?

Thanks to the Jesuit Post which I read faithfully, I discovered a new site, Happify, that I subscribed to today. This short, simple, well animated story from Happify tells how to make friends out of enemies. Often, I’m tempted to think your are the source of my angst, my anger or my discomfort.  In my more sober moments, I remember the lesson of this animation, and live a much more peaceful day. Hope you have time to enjoy.

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who 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

We Are All Called to be Builders

Can you imagine a world “of hopes, dreams and visions…where prophets speak…where peace and justice meet…where outcasts and  strangers bear the image of God’s Face and the cross stands as witness”?

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who 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 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