Join Me in the Journey

As a child, I was taught to give up something for Lent. I was not taught, or I missed this part of the instruction if I was, the reason why I give something up for Lent. Oh yes, I was told that such acts would make me holy and pleasing to God. But really, what does that mean, especially to a seven year old?

Today, I believe giving “things” up or letting them go, will make me a more complete person in contact with the real world around me, i.e. holier (read healthier) person. Julio Gil illustrates this well in his July 2017 Ted Talk Future Tech Will Give You the Benefits of City Life Anywhere. After noting today’s trend of everyone rushing to the city, fleeing the rural areas in search of “…more jobs opportunities, easier access to services and goods and a rich social life.” Gil points out how through modern technology, we can have all this as well as the benefits of country life, i.e. fresh air, closer contact with nature, and a richer community life by moving back to the country.

Lent comes from the Old English word Lenten meaning Spring or the time of the year when the days are lengthening. As the days lengthen, the earth warms and from the rotting frozen earth of winter, spring the new life of earlier planted seeds. Evidently, we work the same way. I can’t wait to find a new life Gil talks about above, out in the country (rotting frozen life of last 300 years). Wanna come along?

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community of Passionist Partners. 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

Happy Fasting!

I attended a meeting with some friends the other morning and one person said she would like to have a future meeting to address the question: “Why fast?” She justified the question with: “After all, lent is coming.” I thought to myself, yes, and while we’re at it, we might address, why suffering, injustice and the cross. For me, they are all intimately bound one to each other.

Bryan Stevenson in his TED2012 talk We need to talk about an injustice says: “Ultimately, you judge the character of a society, not by how they treat their rich and the powerful and the privileged, but by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated. Because it’s in that nexus that we actually begin to understand truly profound things about who we are.”

That last phrase, at least for me, contains the answer of why I fast (less than two normal meals per day and not eating between meals): “…it’s in that nexus that we actually begin to understand truly profound things about who we are.” I suspect that you are not too different from myself in that when life is going along fine, i.e. my bills are paid, there’s still some money in my bank account, and I even have some left over to drop in the “Poor Box” at church that I fool myself and think: “I’ve got this life business down–I know what’s it all about.”

On the other hand, when I’m hungry and there’s no dinner on the table to satisfy me or I’m broke and still have a pile of bills to pay that I’m brought immediately to the present moment, the moment where I can find God. That’s a scary moment for me. At first I realize how totally inadequate I am to satisfy the injustices of the world, I can’t even satisfy my hunger or need for money. I experience my neediness. It’s also at that moment, if I am willing to actually face it and not run away through some addiction, that I realize, “we” can. We can fill the hunger in each of our bellies. We can satisfy the hunger for justice. We can give sight to the sightless. We can set the downtrodden free. In short, I can’t; we can.

So for me the answer to why fast, is to wake myself up the present moment. When I’m hungry, I don’t think about tomorrow, or yesterday. I am totally in the moment. That moment is filled with many good things, but it is also lacking in many good things. When we work together, we address that hunger, that suffering, those crosses, and we find new life.

Happy fasting!

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community of Passionist Partners. 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

Not Me!

Watching television today leads me to believe that all I have to do to be happy is to buy the right car, live in the right neighborhood, eat the right food or take a particular pill–the list goes on ad infinitum. I don’t think so, in fact I truly doubt that any of that will make me happy. I believe that grappling with life’s struggles, even when I feel completely helpless and abandoned, rewards me and all of us with life.

That seems to be the theme of  Andrew Solomon’s new movie “Far From the Tree”. With this movie Solomon examines life as lived through the lives of five main characters, none of which claim to have any of the above.  I watched, I laughed, I cried and I left the theatre understanding a little better what it means to truly live and not run away, my first choice of action when confronted with a challenge.

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

Change

Last week a friend summed up the challenge of my life. He said he hates change and he can’t stand the way things are. I totally agree, change is difficult. It’s difficult at the personal level and near impossible at the institutional level. According to a CNN Politics July 4, 2016 article, in our 200-year plus Unites States history, Americans have made more than 11,000 attempts to change the Constitution. Only 27 of them stuck.

Newsboys_2009

Change is not impossible though. The Newsboys tell us how in their 2014 Sparrow Records YouTube video recording. Enjoy!

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

Ramadam

Garima Bakshi wrote an enlightening article “Ramadan has begun, and here’s what you need to know about it“.  I’ve gleamed the following points that I personally find fascinating, but you might enjoy going to the real article to learn lots more. Thanks Garima!

  • Most importantly, Ramadan is a spiritual cleanse of the body, mind, and soul. It is about compassion, honesty, and kindness.
  • It’s ultimately a joyful celebration of a rich history that goes back several millennia.
  • It is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims and celebrates the very origin of Islam.
  • Non-Muslims or Muslims unable to fast are welcome to partake in the festivities at the Iftar feasts.
  • Muslims are instructed to refrain from any sinful behaviour that might negate the rewards of fasting. These include gossipping, cursing, impure thoughts, altercation, and fighting. While it sounds simple, training your mind to avoid negativity can be harder than training it to not crave water and food.

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 believe transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey