November 20, 1999; 9:25 a.m.; Chicago
Among the images that filled my memory when I was reading the book about Chicago is the picture of my mother reaching into her purse for money and trembling when she saw how little was left. This happened often and, even from the distance of two-thirds of a century, the image still breaks my heart. If only I could have done something about it. If only in later years I could have made up for it! I know she is with You now and filled with the joy and peace we all desire, but I am still close to tears over what she suffered.
So many others did too, but they weren't my mother. Still, I feel for them also.
I put up my tree last night and the Christmas decorations and have Christmas music on the stereo. When I think of the money I have spent on Christmas presents (even holding inflation constant), I realize what that kind of money would have meant to my mother. And my tears well up again. I give money away, I shouldn't feel guilty. Only sad.
Help me this Christmas, despite my wanderings in early December.
I love You.
March 15, 2000; 8:25 a.m.; Tucson
In the poem this morning, the author (male) tells about washing wine glasses in the sink and describes it as "the gray sacrament of the mundane." What a lovely line. There are so many sacraments of the mundane all around, by no means all of them gray. I look out the window this morning and see hummingbirds against the blue sky cavorting around an octillo tree, striving to come alive after last week's inadequate rain. You lurk there and in the wine glasses and in every other marvel of creation, if only I would take the time to see them and be open to them. In the rushed days ahead I so much want to be open to You.
Help me to Love.
A lot of activity around my rosemary bush this morning. Gamble quail back at last, a bevy of red-crested birds, chipmunks, and a busy little lizard. It is spring now, isn't it! I guess I didn't notice the change last week, I was so busy running around. The prickly pears have fruit again. No sign of the saguaro blossoms, however.
All in all, quite a show. Life flows again in the desert. Odd life, but surviving life, a life that reflects your persistence and determination in sustaining life. No proof of anything, just a sign--but signs are all that believers need.
I love You.
July 17, 2000; 8:33 a.m.; Grand Beach
I want to reflect on simplicity, a characteristic that does not mark my life in any respect. Quite the contrary; both personally and professionally I am anything but simple. I am a complex, intricate character with many layers of depth wrapped around my inner self, partly at least by design, partly perhaps because I lack most communal and institutional ties. Maybe that latter fact is, in its own way, a form of simplicity. Or maybe it's just that I don't fit.
My lifestyle is not simple. Three homes, each better than the one home most people have. Expensive electronic equipment. Flying around the country and the world. Money spent in improving them all-although each is worth far more now that I have put so much into them.
Yet, am I "attached" to them? Would I find it hard to give up Grand Beach? Will I find it hard when life and death demand that I do? I think, but I'm not sure, that I may weep a little for it, but that I would let go. I hope so.
I've made all the arguments for it before. A place to relax, to work in some kind of peace. I've never been able to solve that problem. Maybe I'm asking the question in the wrong way. I don't know.
Do I need this house on the lake? Perhaps a better question is whether I would have survived without it. I tend to doubt it.
I must reflect more on this simplicity business.
I love You.
September 8, 2000; 8:05 a.m.; Grand Beach
Little sleep last night after a horrendous day. Phones, phones, phones!
Someone asked me the other night what I would be if I had not become a priest. Good question! I was so single-minded in my determination to become priest that I didn't think of anything else. Odd, wasn't it? Moreover, if I had left the priesthood--and, as You know, the idea never occurred to me--I would have had a couple of occupations that would have lost most of their attraction if I were not a priest.