Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Halfway Through the Semester

We are halfway through the semester and all is going very well. The twelve students are doing fine in their work and their appropriation of the materials. We are having fun learning together. The trip to the Art Studios seemed to invigorate their desire to begin their final projects. The community that is being built is quite strong.

Last night, I was treated to an Omaha tenderloin steak. It was beyond compare - tender, succulent, pure, and cooked medium rare. Perfect. We enjoyed a relaxed evening immensely.

The other day I spoke to my father and put my foot in my mouth. I asked him about the location of his father's grave in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and he called me to tell me he was buried in Calumet. I explained that I may get there one day to visit, so I asked my grandfather's name. My father paused and was frustrated: John, he said.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wading in the Pool

Classes are going fine. In fact, they are quite fun. Creighton has a long history of attracting many men and women religious and very committed lay men and women. This place is almost like a mecca for advanced education for the Catholic Church in the Midwest.

Class was very spirited today and the students asked me to continue for an additional twenty minutes. I felt so bad. After class, I took the students to the Jocelyn Art Museum, which is a ten minute walk from campus. The religious sisters from Africa were so pleased to be in an art museum because they would not have thought to go on their own. They said, "We needed a break from sitting at our desks."

Everyone had a blast trying out the trinkets in the gift shop, but the real blessing occurred when I invited everyone to take off their shoes and wade into the fountain pond at the entrance to the museum. Once we did that, many other people took off their shoes. At first, the sisters resisted, but then we could not get them out of the water. The only way to do so was to assemble for a group photo. It was an enjoyable evening when we laughed and enjoyed some playful times - a nice respite from the coursework.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Creighton: Fireflies, statues, and the Kindest People

During the early evening, swarms of fireflies dot the campus of Creighton University. There are so many of them that it is almost a magical light show. It is especially nice to sit in the Jesuit Gardens and watch these fireflies light up the statues, especially the one of St. Clare, who is sprawled out on the ground.

The campus is blessed with many statues, especially religious ones in contemporary forms. I like the elongated ones of Moses and other humans. The Ignatian spirit is captured in this artwork. Omaha seems to be an Ignatian town. Many religious people pass through the campus and encounter some aspect of the Ignatian charism. It gives me great pride to know that a 16th century man is still influencing our world. In the hallways of several buildings, great Jesuit placards tell our story of reaching into each sphere of life and helping others to access Christ. It is very inspiring.

One challenge to me is the heat and humidity of the land. I usually try to get a walk in to get 12,000 steps, but I'm lucky if I get 10,000 because my feet are dragging. The air is just very heavy.

Another consoling aspect of being here is meeting the Jesuit community. Every man is extremely kind, and I like kind people. The hospitality is very warm and people simply have a smile in their eyes and on their face at the same time. It is wonderful. This complements that people who are part of the program who have the same exceeding graciousness. The genuineness is really deeply of God, and I'm grateful.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Domestic Day

Though it is an overcast day with perfect temperatures for exercising, I decided to exercise my domestic skills inside my little room. I'm glad I did because I feel very accomplished.

I bought new bathroom rugs, a new shower curtain, and curtain hooks so I could freshen up this cleansing room. I removed the very heavy bathroom door that served only to block the light from entering the room. I even hung a few hooks for some clothing and linens. Everything is better organized. After scrubbing and cleaning, the place sparkles.

It then served as a way of accomplishing small details that I postponed for months and years. I went through drawers and threw out old papers, cleaned my drawers of old technology pieces, fixed a few odds and ends, and organized my shelves. I found some items that were missing for the past month and I was delighted to find them near to the place I left them. The top of my desk is clean and I wonder why it took me so long to clean it. I did my laundry and readied a few items for my next trip to Omaha.

I even did some research that I postponed for months because I figured I could do it over the summer. Well, the summer is here and I have no valid reason to delay, so I did some of it today. Granted, I ought to be working on a few other projects, but sometimes these small accomplishments are the launchpads for something more substantial.

Just a few more projects for the day and then mass, dinner, and a good long walk to end the week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Estoy Practicando

I am delighted that I have an opportunity to practice my language all over the place. Our staff worker from Cape Verde is speaking to me in Spanish all the time. I understand everything that he is saying so far. I must be bold enough to risk sounding foolish in the short term. It will come. It eases my worry that I will not be able to use the language for a month, but I suspect there are Spanish speakers everywhere, even in Omaha, Nebraska.

The weekend has been consoling so far. I enjoyed having mass and meals with my brother Jesuits again. It was terrific to have an extra weekend day so I can slow down a bit. There's much to do before my next venture, but I am awash in experiencing the graces of the moment.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A nice meeting

Yesterday, I met with a friend that became acquainted with me through my blog a few years ago. She had been very supportive of the Jesuit's work in Amman, Jordan and she is a parishioner of a Jesuit parish in the American South. She came north to Boston to make her annual retreat. I was glad to hear that she enjoyed most aspects of it. She really came away with a sense of what is holy about living in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. She pointed out that we Jesuits often take for granted that we live in the presence of Christ when others do not.

She is a very kind woman with a very open heart. She has great insights about her own spiritual life and what she wants as a faithful person devoted to Christ. She is also quite devoted to Jesuits and retains her hope in the sacred qualities they bring to relationships. I was so pleased to meet her after all these years. Since I had just returned from a long trip and hadn't acquired enough sleep, I regret that I was so very tired and did not have much energy to be attentive to deeper conversations. I needed a nap to rejuvenate me first.

However, I love being back in Boston. The air is so clear in the morning and evenings. I can open the windows and let the fresh air pass through. Being in Boston for the Fourth is great because there is so much vitality all round, but it is back to work. Time to visit someone who is hospitalized, another who just had surgery, and a woman that just moved to hospice.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Graduation Day

The month has passed and three of us survived the four-week program. The Jesuit novices will stay an additional week of study, but there are many that are staying the full eight weeks. Another group of students arrive in another week. Bendiciones to them.

The program director and her husband took me out for lunch afterwards. I'm staying an extra night as it saves the community two hundred dollars in airfare. I'd love to be back in Boston, but there are tornado warnings in the western part of Massachusetts so my trip might have been delayed anyways. At least this way, I can pack and read and take one last long walk around the lake this evening.

For a whole month, no one has said my name. I'm called Padre and the bishop is El Obispo. He is a good kind man.

The class, though intensive, was not overly intensive. It was not a whole immersion experience, but we had plenty of opportunities to try out our new language. It went at a rather good pace and I had plenty of pastoral experiences.

In the last week of class, at my suggestion, we reviewed all possible verb tenses so that we see all the various form and their rules. It was a whirlwind, but one that I think will be profitable. Now, I'll have to watch univision so that I keep up what I have learned.

It is all good.