Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 24, 2017



HOLIER THAN THOU

Walking down the street
on a hot summer day,
I spotted - in front of me -
a gal wearing a blue 
summer dress with a
round hole in the back.
Neat! Some designer’s trick.
Couldn’t help but think:
“Next time I wear socks
with holes in them -  
when someone stops 
to tell me, 'Hey, you got
got holes in your socks.'
I'm going to say, 'Hey, 
I’m wearing designer socks!’"




© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017








Friday, June 23, 2017



June 23, 2017

SELF TEST  # 27

Some people are catchy.
They bedazzle the crowd
upon every entrance.

Some people are ugly.
They pit-bull the crowd
if allowed to come near.

Some people are sweet.
They smile the crowd
into liking them immediately.

Some people are you and me.
By the way, what do people do
when we come into a room?


© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22, 2017


ICE  CREAM  CONES 

There are seven ways,
and only seven ways
to enjoy an ice cream cone.
First:  top down lick, consuming the first cold
          sucks of a just bought ice cream cone;       
second: sideways licks around the sides
          but above the cone’s edge;
next: when outside on the summer sidewalk
         quick licks of melting drips
   and leaking ice cream;
next: bites - good teeth grabbing bites
         of small slabs of cold ice cream;
five:  slow, very slow, sucking and pulling
         into one’s mouth of mostly liquid
   ice cream - but with at least
   two paper napkins in hand;
sixth: sharing the same cone - but with
          two scoops to begin - with one’s beloved;
and seventh: sharing part two of one’s cone
          with one’s little kids. Ooooh good!


© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NUMB

It’s not smart to become numb -
to become inoculated by self -
so as to not notice the person
right next to us - who is hurting,
who is hungry, who is poor, who
is reaching out to us, who wants 
to say something - because when 
we become numb to others, we are 
not receiving holy communion 
with the rest of the body - and 
Christ remains  - just is in the dark -
not being eaten up - just stuck in too
many metal or wooden tabernacles.
Christ no longer walks our streets.
Christ no longer talks at our tables.


© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
June 21, 2017




One never knows

who and what's out there -

that is, till we launch

out into the deep for a catch.


[Now read Luke 5: 1-11.]

              

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


I  HATE  YOU! 

INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this 11th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “I Hate You.”

Have we ever heard someone say those three words in our lifetime?

Have we ever said them?

Has anyone ever said those three words at us?

CHILDREN AND ADULTS

We might have heard a little kid screaming those words at a parent. They want ice cream or candy or to stay up late and they are not getting their way - and so they scream, “I hate you.”

And once a kid learns those words - especially the hate word - they might then say it at another kid in the family or some kid in a game.

It’s a different  sentence - when adults scream out those three words.

Teen agers - in the midst of a fight with parents - for example when it comes to whom they are dating or hanging with - or when privileges are taken away - those 3 words have more power than that of a tiny kid - but when adults say those 3 words - then we’re in serious territory.

If they come  home - back home - and they hear “I love you!” - that’s a thunder storm moment - and “I love you” after a horrible “I hate you”  experience - is so much more powerful than before.

 TODAY’S GOSPEL

We’re moving along each day now in the Sermon on the Mount - for our weekday Mass gospel text.

Today Jesus uses the word, “hate” when he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’”

The verb used for hate is miseo!

Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh - in their book, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels - tell us that when the people of the Mediterranean world used the words “love” and “hate” it was a bit different than the way we would use those two words today.

We would think of these two words more in psychological terms, especially in one to one terms. In Jesus’  world, we’d be thinking more in group terms - and especially “attachment” - “group attachment” - terms.  So if I love someone -  I’m attached to this other person’s family - and family is one’s big circles.  If I hate someone I want to be separate from another or from the group or family they belong to.

So the elder  brother of the Prodigal Son - doesn’t want to go into the house - into the celebration for the returned son and brother - into the whole family who is celebrating his return.

ONE TO ONE ADULT HATRED OF ANOTHER

Jesus sees all this. When he heals someone - he  tells them to go home to their family to celebrate the recovery and the healing - of being part of the family once again.

So the stress in Jesus’ time is community, the group, attachment to the group -  more than just one to one.

The stress for today, hopefully would have that - seeing hatred in how Jesus saw hatred - how it destroys community. We need to learn how to forgive one’s brother or sister from the heart - seeing family all together again - as it was in the past.

But we have learned that hatred - hurts the hater - besides hurting the person who hears, “I hate you.”  We need to see how hatred boomerangs back to the thrower - the screamer.

So in one-to-one hatred screams - we need to realize both the other and ourselves - are in on the impact. Sometimes we forget  how hatred or anger or what have you grips and grabs us as well.

I noticed this quote last night. It’s from Jose Marti [1853-1895] who said in his, Manifesto of Montechristi [1895]  “Only  those who hate the Negro see hatred in the Negro.”

It’s called projection and transference in psychology.

Once we realize these kinds of things we can grow.

Jonathan Swift [1667-1745]  said, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” [Cf: "Thoughts on Various Subjects"; from Miscellanies [1711]

CONCLUSION


So that’s why we come to Mass - come to church, mosque, synagogue and temple - we come for more religion. We come to move for more love and the lessening of hatred.
June 20, 2017


IT  HAPPENS

It happens.
Honestly it really happens….

He knew the sounds of
all the birds:  crows and doves,
robins, cardinals, blue jays,
orioles, ravens and mocking birds.

But he couldn’t hear the sound
of loneliness and desire, fear
and hurt in the voices of his
wife and their two kids.

He forgot it was their anniversary….
She gave enough hints - and it
didn’t hurt him enough to blurt
out an "Uh oh!" sound when he
found a card from her when he
got home that evening at 10 PM.

It happens.
Honestly. It really happens.
  

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017





GOING THE EXTRA MILE

INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this 11th Monday in Ordinary time is, “Going the Extra Mile.”

We’ve all heard that phrase from time to time.

I’m underlining it in this short homily.

It comes from today’s gospel. It comes from the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says, “Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.” [Matthew 5:41]

William Barclay in his commentary on Matthew gives evidence that in the time of Jesus - foreign soldiers - whom one often met on the roads or towns of  Palestine would be bossy and pushy - and push people to do more than the pushed person would expect.

So Jesus says, “Go the extra mile.”

POSITIVES OR NEGATIVES?

The benefits of going the extra mile is that it can make us better workers.

It can get us to give better service.

It can get  us to work with a smile more than a scowl.

Of course, it could also make us angry people - and set us up to being passive aggressors.

We’ve all seen fellow workers who do the minimum - and we’ve see co-workers who do the maximum.

We’ve probably noticed co-workers who go the extra mile - who go out of the way - to help someone - and others criticize them for this - mostly because they are thinking, “People will expect more from me - that I want to give.”

We’ve all been impressed with a store worker who sees us coming into the store just as it’s closing and they say, “How can I help you?” instead of saying, “Sorry. We’re closing.”

When I drive back from my sister’s in Doylestown, PA. I often hit the DQ on Route 896 - near Middletown, Delaware - just as it’s closing and every time they are wonderful. Not only do they let me get into the bathroom - but they let me get my Sugarless Dilly Bar.

I know a couple who longed for their last kid to move out. She finally did, but their other daughter, with 2 little kids moved in - right at that moment. Her husband took off without her.

THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE

There are two kinds of people: the minimalist and the maximalist.

Every kid in every school knows which teacher, which coach, which janitor, is a minimalist - does as little as possible - and which is a maximalist.

I remember an English teacher who took forever to mark our tests - and all that was on the back was an A, B, C or D. That’s it. That’s all.

I remember an English teacher who had our tests back within 2 weeks, and they were covered with red.  This teacher put in suggestions - suggestions about words. Make shorter sentences. Use more familiar words.

I’ve heard teachers say they love tests than can be marked that much easier and they hate essay questions. I’ve heard teachers say they love essay questions, because they really help kids learn better to express themselves.

I love waiters and waitresses who double check 3 times at a meal, if we want water - because I always get just water. I like it when they pause to see where the boss is  - and they tell us not to get something.

CONCLUSION

The title and theme of this homily is, “Going the Extra Mile.”

Go for it.


Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19, 2017


GLIMPSES

In the early morning of a cold damp day
a dozen dog walkers are doing their duty -
giving glimpses that we all have favorite places.

In the late afternoon of a dark - sliding -
gliding - cloudy - sort of day - suddenly
a glimpse of transcendence - the sun is out.

In the night - parents take one last glimpse
of their little one - deep in sleep -
glimpses that God is ever watching over us.



© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017



Sunday, June 18, 2017

THE TREE

He was a father.

He was also a son - a brother - a husband - an electrician - a poet - yes a poet - and a very quiet sort of a fellow - definitely an introvert.

He was well loved - easy going - someone you could call on to do a favor. Anything. Anytime - if he could do it - and he could do an awful lot. And when you asked him for help, he would come and do it with a smile and leave you and himself with a great smile as he pulled his pickup truck out of your driveway.

Their  first child - was a baby girl - 6 pounds 6 ounces - named Judy after his grandma. Having a baby would chang his life - as well as his wife’s life - for life.

Obviously.

The changes started shortly and slowly after his wife, Joan, called him at work, “We’re pregnant.”

A tear came to his eye as he stood there after the call.

He said to himself, “I’m going to be a father.”

He was a poet - not published - but he kept a small 9 ½  x 6 inch spiral notebook in the second drawer in his work bench in the basement.

In that note book,  he would jot down poem possibilities.  

He was doing this - ever since his sophomore year in high school - when his poem won the high school poetry contest. It was a total surprise: a poem about the wonderful taste of cold milk and three homemade chocolate chip cookies - from his grandma - Judymom.

After that - whenever he would get an idea for a poem during a game or at school and then at work after he graduated from high school - it went into that spiral note book.

So he was doing this from time to time since he was 15 years old.

Sometimes he would finish a poem - usually after 16 to 20 rewrites.  At first his poems had to have rhyme and a beat - but in time he moved away from that stricture and that structure.

He would borrow books of poems from the library on a regular basis and go through them. Poetry books were usually rather thin books. So it wasn’t that difficult a task  to finish 3 out of the 5 books - before he brought them back.

He studied forms and formats - especially of a poem that he could actually understand.

To him, too many poems were too, too complicated.

He never talked to anybody about all this. It was simply one of those little human, quiet hobbies or endeavors, we all have. They were like electricity in his wiring.

He loved the poems of Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop and Emily Dickinson.  

He was becoming a poet and a father.

While Judy was growing in her mother’s womb, he tried to write at least 4 poems to try to capture his feelings at the time. None were good enough or finished enough to be transferred to his other book - his final product poem book - which he kept in a plastic bag - on the bottom of that second drawer in his work cabinet in the basement. This was a small black vinyl bound book. It had better paper and better hand writing. On the front - it had the title of his book - printed in ball point pen - on neat - perfectly cut - grey metallic duct tape. He entitled his book  -  Milk and Chocolate Chip Cookies. It was named after his first poem - the one that won the poetry contest in his sophomore year in high school.

Now that he was going to become a father he was wondering what image would he use to describe himself - as father. Since he was a big man - 6 foot 5, his nicknames in school were “Bear” and “Walrus”.

He thought: should I think animal?

No. Nope. Neither made any connections in his mind.

Should I think object?

One time there, he was called “Hunk.”

Or then when he worked in a  gas station one summer he picked up the nickname “Hubcap!” because he knew a place where you could get hubcaps - any hubcap. Back then people would lose hubcaps way more than today. People would call or come to him - whenever they needed a used hubcap.

He kept waiting for the right poetic image - the right metaphor - for fatherhood.

After Judy was born - sitting out in their backyard - on the porch - with the new born baby in his arms, he realized that their piece of backyard had no trees. It was empty. He asked different fellows at work, what kind of tree is the best kind of tree to plant around here.

He decided on an oak tree. He found one - tall - thin - about 12 feet tall - in a nursery. And they came the next day with their big truck and digger - and a long, tall,  teenage tree. It was planted in the center of their big empty backyard.  It would take a lot more time to grow - but he was planning on being around for a long time.  

He thought, “I can watch it grow - along with my family.”

He grew. His family grew. The tree grew. It grew slowly through the years. He made sure it got plenty of water and fertilizer. When you have only one tree, it’s quite a responsibility.

After Judy -  came Max - then Audrey - then Patricia. Three girls and a boy.

He was a father.

As the tree got bigger and stronger he loved sitting under it with one, two, three, four of his kids on the grass next to him. Max - their only son - tried climbing the tree  as he grew - but thank God only he - because it could be dangerous.

When Judy, their oldest daughter,  got married at 22, she and dad and mom had to have a picture with her in her white wedding gown - before they went to the church. They had started tree pictures ever since first communions and then confirmations and then graduations and now, he thought, marriages too. Praise God.

In fact, in time, on every special occasion, the oak tree had to be in on the picture.

When a kid got in trouble - or when he and Joan had a fight, he’d go out back by himself and sit under that growing, that knowing,  tree. He'd sit with the loneliness of failure or fight - and then the beauty of forgiveness. Sometimes when one of the kids did some dumb thing - like being arrested for D.U.I. - if you looked, you could see dad outside from the kitchen window all by himself - under their oak tree.

And sometimes he’d have a note book in hand.

Sometimes he and Joan sat out there by themselves - praying for one of their kids - when that kid really needed prayer. Then again, sometimes they would break into prayer - prayers of thanksgiving -  for all four kids - as well as for each other. Family ….

Finally, all four kids were gone - married - moved out - and it was just he and Joan - the house and the tree. He asked Joan if she wanted to move - to a warmer weather place like Alabama or Georgia or Tennessee or one of the Carolinas. 

She thought about that and said in bed one night, “We can’t. You can’t. You’ll miss your tree too much.”

One June afternoon -  when Joan was baby-sitting for Judy's two kids - their first two grand kids, Kevin and Kyle, he went outside and sat under the tree. He had in hand his note pad and began working on a poem he had dabbled in and worked with many, many times. It’s title was “Fatherhood”


             FATHERHOOD

Fatherhood ….  a tree -
that started as a small tree,
but before that -  a tiny seed -
but look at me now -
rooted down deep
in the dirt of the earth -
but reaching high,
into the high of the sky?

Fatherhood …. Look at me -
branching - branching out -
arms outstretched -
reaching for the east,
reaching for the west,
reaching for the best?
Look at me!

Fatherhood …. Look at me -
broken at times -
scared and scarred at times -
whispering in the wind
and in the storm -
silent on summer’s hot days?

Fatherhood…. Lean against me?
Feel me growing and growing
always reaching for the stars?
Yet, but, if you stop to sit beneath me,
you’ll hear my thoughts, my memories
and my sighs.

Fatherhood …. To be more than I am….
A tree - each tree - this tree ....
I'd have to die to become a chair,
a table, the cross, a wall, a baseball bat,
a broom, a church bench,  an altar,
a part of a house - part of everything.

Fatherhood…. Now I see
what Jesus learned
in the carpenter shop
with Joseph - no wonder
he was always thinking of
God, our Father. 
Oh my God,  God Our Father,
You are part of everyone and everything.
Why did I ever become an electrician?
I should have been a carpenter.

Under that poem was a tiny note, “Version 14” and then he added another note, “Getting there.”

Shortly after he died - Joan was down the basement. A door knob in a closet upstairs had come loose - and she was looking for a screw driver. 

She found one - but she also saw these drawers in his work bench - which she had never ever opened up and looked into.

Being inquisitive - or was it fate or faith - she just happened to open the second drawer in his work bench?

She spotted a clothes pin clipped half of a bag of chocolate chip cookies. Surprise. It wasn’t chocolate chip cookies. Inside she saw his note book. There they were:  his spiral note pad and his ¾ finished book of poems, Milk and Chocolate Chip Cookies

She took it upstairs - brought it over to his Lazy Boy favorite chair - but she first got a big glass of cold milk and some chocolate chip cookies - and she sat down and began to read his poems.

And yes it had about 7 wonderful love poems just to her. 

And one was entitled, "Tears and Chocolate Chip Cookies," and yes that poem and many others brought tears to her eyes - and she could hear him reading his poems to her.  

Then - after reading both his books - she got her cell phone and called all 4 kids - one by one. “Guess what I found in the basement? It was a gift from your father.”

And then she read to each of their four kids - one at a time  - a poem he had written about that kid.



And all 4 kids they told their families - what their dad - whom they nicknamed - years ago - "The Oak Tree" - what he had left for them in their basement - poems - many of which were written under that oak tree in their backyard.
MONSTRANCE

Christ - Bread - behind glass
in the golden monstrance
on an altar in a small
below the church chapel.

Christ - in the streets - under
cardboard - in the cold damp
night - raining - people passing
by on the cold cement sidewalk.

Christ - on the couch -
mom and dad, husband and wife
both 27 - holding each other
and their baby in Holy Communion.

Christ - the teenager - somewhere 
else in his mind - than being in the carpenter shop - longing to be in a synagogue - to deal with different ways to measure life.

Christ - on the road - at the sea shore -
on a donkey walking down a street
strewn with palms and then in less than a week,
he’s all blood with a cross on the way to Calvary.


© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017


June 18, 2017

HAPPY   FATHER'S DAY






That's my dad - holding me the youngest of four - in his arms. But  Peggy the second youngest was his favorite - sort of lost in the crowd in this double exposed picture.  Billy the oldest has the white collar. Mary the next oldest has the biggest hat. My mom has the flower in the lapel. I think the picture is Easter at Bliss Park - or Owls Head Park.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

EASY TO REMEMBER
MORNING  PRAYER

Bless us, O Lord,

and these Your gifts
which we are about to receive
from Your bounty,
through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.





June  17, 2017

PERFECTLY  IMPERFECT  PERSON

Hopefully, we’re “just perfect”  to someone.
It's good if we hear that; better: if we experience that; best: if we know that - from someone.

Because we know we’re not perfect.
We know we make mistakes. We misspell
the first word we get in the Spelling Bee.

But our dad is there to clap for us - our mom
is there - to eat our chocolate cake, even though
though it’s horrible. We forgot a key ingredient. 

The Prodigal Son came home to a perfect
father - and that perfect father - went outside
to try to bring inside his perfect older son.


© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
Painting on top: Jonathan Quist







Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16, 2017

HAVES  AND  HAVE  NOTS 


I have memories. If and when
I don't know that  - I have dementia.

I have things I have figured out and
things I haven’t figured out - yet ….

I have time sometimes and sometimes
I don’t have time. So it's about time ....

I have faith - and I pray for those for
whom this is a have not. Bummer ….

I have secrets…. In fact, I haven’t
met a person yet who doesn’t.  

I have made mistakes and I have not
been able to take any of them back.

I have stuff and I don’t have stuff - 
now that’s stuff to think about.

There are haves and have nots. 
Who decides who’s who and what's what?

  

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017






Thursday, June 15, 2017




PRAYER FOR BALANCE


        Lord,
          give me the grace
          and give me the gift to be able:

          to see and to hear both sides
                    of an argument,
          to know when to give another space
                    and when to intervene,
                    to step back or to step in,
                    to speak or to listen,
                    to know which one is best
                    for any given situation,
          to know when to let go
                    and when to hang on,
          to be stubborn as a bulldog
                    or to run away like a deer,
          to work hard and then to know
                    when it’s time to play
                    and when it’s time to rest,
          to know when to serve
                    and when to be served,
          to know when to mix
                    and when to be alone,
          to know when to be like rock
                    and when to be like water,
          knowing that you are with me
          and with all others,
          this day and every day,
          all the days of our life. Amen.



© Andy Costello, Prayers in the Meanwhile