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

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A Sign of Hope

As students at Immaculate Conception grammar school, we would say the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays during lent. I kind of liked them as a great diversion from the classroom. Like many of the pre-Vatican II devotions in the Catholic Church, this practice has lost its appeal and I sometimes wonder if younger people even know what those fourtreen paintings or bas-relief sculptures adorning the church walls are doing there.

The Passionist, a Roman Catholic monastic community commit their lives to keeping alive the memory of the Passion of Jesus and one of the ways they do this is to continue to encourage people coming to their retreat centers to join them on that short pilgrimage. Today in honor of Holy Week, Brother John Rockenbach, of the Passionist’s Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center near the Los Angles area leads a group on their journey. It’s a twenty-five minute trip, one that promises not only to inspire, but also to give you a chance to “retreat” to a much more peaceful and hopeful time. Happy Easter!

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 Power of Asparagus

My mother assigned daily chores to each of us. I remember periodically having to pick some wild asparagus that grew in our rock garden and bring it in for dinner that night. I never dreamed that this simple act was unusual or that it would ever become a means of fighting climate change or of building community.

Tim Rinne in a 2014 TEDx talk Growing food, growing community — the example of the Hawley Hamlet, shares a charming story of how the fear of missing a meal at some future date, led him to revolutionize what his neighborhood looked like and how he grew from knowing just three of his neighbors to now knowing all of them. As a result of their combined work, they lessened their carbon footprints and learned to grow food, much like that asparagus I picked when I was five years old in 1950.

I’m meeting with an activist group leader tomorrow to talk about what we might do to fight the bad effects of gentrification in our Chicago north side neighborhood. Maybe we will plan a demonstration in front of the alderman’s office, or maybe we will organize individuals asking them to stand on corners requesting people to sign petitions. Both ideas I suspect have been successful in the past, but I’m hoping that we will come up with something more revolutionary like the Hawley Hamlet. Thanks Tim for the idea.

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

Why Blog?

People who know me, know I’m always pushing blogging. I push it because I believe it will lead to more face-to-face meetings and allow all of us to overcome our time and space limitations as well as provide a venue for people with differing opinions to come together to share them.

In the above TEDx talk, Celeste Headlee presents ten ideas on how to be a good conversationalist. While I think they are all effective strategies, one in particular impressed me, number two: “Don’t pontificate.” In her comments about this suggestion she says, kiddingly I think: “If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog.”

Unlike simply listening to a homily or watching a program on TV, blogs do offer the reader an opportunity for response, argument, pushback and growth. As a blogger, I appreciate someone taking the time to respond, whether with an Emoji or a comment. Both communicate, and after all, that’s the whole idea.

Finding the time and space to meet face-to-face limits the number and variety of people with whom I can converse. The blog opens up many more possibilities for discussions with people. If we apply Headlee’s ten suggestions for conversation to blogging, I think we will enjoy blogging and be better prepared to effectively participate in face-to-face conversations.

Any comments?

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

Some Thoughts on “The News”

I’m not sure when television “News”  (North, East, West, South) started becoming important to me. Actually, throughout most of my life I never had the time to watch it regularly, but since I’ve retired, it’s become a regular event in my daily life. I’m beginning to think this is not healthy. After sitting in front of the TV for a half hour, trying to digest all those eight second cuts presented, I walk away more confused and I believe less informed.

I began wondering if there wasn’t a better way for me to get connected with what is happening in my immediate world and the larger universe surrounding that. I started looking for alternatives and I think I’ve found a good one, Damon Brown’s How to choose your news, a TED Ed talk and lesson. TED Ed is TED’s youth initiative that presents animated lessons like the above one, as well as all sorts of discussion questions and materials for someone who wants to go deeper. (I wish these existed when I was teaching-I think they are great)

While the animation is only 4:48 minutes, and I believe well worth watching, I will try to summarize it in a few sentences. Brown starts with recognizing the confusion surrounding today’s plethora of media including, but not limited to social media, blogs (this of course is a blog) and online videos. He suggests the following seven points if you want to get the truth:

  1. Get original news
  2. For current events, follow reporters on social media
  3. Don’t try to follow chaotic stories in real time. Check at several points during the day rather than every few minutes
  4. When you can’t get the original story, read coverage in multiple outlets and not the differences
  5. Separate fact from opinions noting words
  6. Watch out for stories that rely on anonymous sources
  7. Verify news before spreading it

As a community we are as apt to post material that is controversial and present it as facts. Worse, we stand on the sidelines of the important issues of our day unwilling to share our truth or view. This I believe (note the use of the word believe) is not good. As a community with a shared strong belief in the power of the Cross we need to speak up, not condemning those who think differently, or suggesting that our view is any better than another’s, but simply stating our truth. Finally, if we wish to be heard, we must also respectfully listen to others who don’t share our thoughts.

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