Monday, February 29, 2016

366 Project - Day 60 - "Abstract (No Longer Needed)"


February 29, 2016 - "Abstract (No Longer Needed)"

I own around a hundred or so books that I no longer need or want...

A hundred or so books that no longer apply to my life...

A hundred or so books piled up, waiting to be listed for sale online - with most of the proceeds of their sale going to charity.

It's amazing how something that can seem so "necessary" and "important" to us for decades can suddenly become like a complete stranger in our eyes. The connection and need has been lost... and you find yourself gladly ridding yourself of things you once treasured.

Life is strange that way...

I guess it's all part of the learning process though...

... and an important part of one's growth.

(growth is good!)

*   *   *

Sunday, February 28, 2016

366 Project - Day 59 - "Fig Trees and Forgiveness"


February 28, 2016 - "Fig Trees and Forgiveness"

After mass today I went to the Perpetual Adoration Chapel to serve my weekly "Holy Hour" in front of the Holy Eucharist.

When I first entered the chapel there were only two other people in the room: the Adorer who I was there to relieve... and one visitor. I signed in... knelt in front of the Eucharist... and began my hour of prayer. After 10 minutes or so the other two people had left and I was alone with the Eucharist for the remainder of my Holy Hour.

I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. I felt a calmness and a presence that is simply indescribable. It was beautiful... and THAT was the highlight of my day.

Several hours later I was at home, completely in tears after the most extreme and intense argument my son and I have ever had during his almost 15 years of life. It resulted in him stomping off to his room in tears... and me sitting at my desk with my head hung low, tears rolling down my cheeks.

I thought about today's Gospel reading - Luke 13:1-9 - the Parable of the Fig Tree. I realized that, like the gardener, I had been given a fig tree to care for which I should have been cultivating and fertilizing the whole time - rather than waiting until the end and asking for one more year so I could give it special attention in hopes that it would start producing fruit again.

I then thought about this being the "Jubilee Year of Mercy"... and the words of Luke 6:37-38 came to mind:

"Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."

And with that in mind I realized that a year of long-overdue cultivation awaits me. It is time to both forgive the fig tree and ask for the fig tree's forgiveness... then set about the proper work of one who takes up the role of being a gardener.

*   *   *

Saturday, February 27, 2016

366 Project - Day 58 - "Abstract (Night Branches)"



February 27, 2016 - "Abstract (Night Branches)"

There's beauty to be found everywhere... even under the glow of a parking lot's light pole on a cold February night when all is quiet and calm and sleepy.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Friday, February 26, 2016

366 Project - Day 57 - "Abstract (Catching Drips)"


February 26, 2016 - "Abstract (Catching Drips)"

Drips still fall from the dining room ceiling...

Falling into pots...

Falling onto towels...

Dripping...

Drippin...

Drippi...

Dripp...

Drip...

Dri...

Dr...

D...

...



*   *   *

Thursday, February 25, 2016

366 Project - Day 56 - "Catching the Drips (The Roof is Leaking)"


February 25, 2016 - "Catching the Drips (The Roof is Leaking)"

As we come towards the end of the Second Week of Lent, the lessons I'm blessed with learning continue...

At this time last week we had no water, due to several breaks in the cold water line running under our house. Today, however, we seem to have an abundance of water.

Last night brought very heavy rain and house-shaking thunder that had our dog shivering in my arms throughout the night. This morning as I made my way from the bedroom to the kitchen, I suddenly had very wet feet... as there was quite a large puddle in the middle of the dining room floor. In other words: Our roof is leaking yet again.

The floor has been dried and covered with beach towels... and a large lobster pot now catches the drips. I'm left sitting here trying to find the meaning behind the ping of each and every drip as it meets the bottom of the pot.

My roof may be leaking... but then again, I'm blessed with having a roof to cover me. Far too many people in this world are not. No roof... No walls... No shelter... No home.

Our homes are yet another thing we take for granted, yet are seldom content with. We seem to always want to make some sort of an improvement to our homes - "I'd love to have granite countertops instead of this crappy laminate!". Sometimes we long to be able to move to a different home... a house instead of an apartment... a larger or nicer house than we currently have... a home in a better neighborhood... a place where the weather is always nice and the views are amazing. We get annoyed with every perceived fault in the home or place we currently live in - whether it's as "big" as a furnace or central air conditioner that doesn't always work properly... or as "small" as a door handle that sometimes sticks requiring us to have to jiggle it in order to get the front door to open or close properly. The thing is... there are many who would give anything to have what we have, yet take for granted.

In November of 2015 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) presented its annual "Homeless Assessment" to Congress. What did they find? I'm glad you asked.

* As of January 2015 there were 564,708 homeless people in the U.S. on any given night. Think about that for a second... over half a million people in this country are homeless.

The subpopulation of homeless which tends to get the most coverage - such as on social media and in political campaigning, for example - are the homeless veterans. As of January 2015 there were 47,725 homeless veterans, making up less than 10% of the total number of homeless in the United States... and thankfully the number of homeless veterans has been declining each year.

However - what seldom gets coverage on social media or in political campaign discussions is that...

* Almost 40% of the homeless people in the United States are families with children.

* Nearly one-quarter of all homeless people are children under the age of 18.

The five states with the largest homeless populations are California, Oregon, Montana, Hawaii and Nevada.

The five states with the lowest rates of homelessness are Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware and Nebraska.

And just in case there are any thoughts as to who the "stereotypical homeless person" is:

* Almost 75% of homeless individuals are male
* Over 80% of homeless individuals are Non-Hispanic
* Over 50% of homeless individuals are Caucasian

Again - all of these figures come from HUD's 2015 Homeless Assessment which was presented to Congress. It can be found online at - https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2015-AHAR-Part-1.pdf

Keep in mind that these figures are for the United States only! Imagine the numbers when you factor in the rest of the world!

So what can we do about this?

Well, for starters, contact the nearest homeless shelter to the town you live in and help out in whatever way you're able to. Whether you volunteer your time... donate money... donate goods... whatever - do whatever you can to the best of your abilities.

Next, visit www.endhomelessness.org to learn more and to help on the national level.

Finally, give thanks for the home that you have - leaky roof and all - every single day!

*   *   *

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

366 Project - Day 55 - "Abstract (Journal)"


February 24, 2016 - "Abstract (Journal)"

I've had this beautiful blank journal for many years now. I bought it because I just liked the look and feel of it... but I haven't used it because I wanted whatever I ended up using it for to be something "special".

Now it sits in front of me... waiting for my pen to start writing the prayers that I say daily... prayers that I have written... other prayers I use from time-to-time... and even just my prayer-related thoughts.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

366 Project - Day 54 - "Abstract (Distortions)"


February 23, 2016 - "Abstract (Distortions)"

Cold, gray, snowy day...

Blurry-eyed, sleepy-time day...

Abstract, distorted kind of day...

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Monday, February 22, 2016

366 Project - Day 53 - "The Birthday Dog"


February 22, 2016 - "The Birthday Dog"

We don't know the exact date of her birth - so we celebrate the anniversary of the day that she entered our lives... and that was four years ago today.

We also don't know exactly how old she is... though the veterinarian estimated her to be around 3 to 4 years old when we adopted her, so we just say that she's "around 8 years old" now.

Today that age is showing more and more... especially at moments like this - when she's annoyed with me for disturbing one of her many daily naps!

Anyway...

Happy Birthday Leica Maria Francesca Totti Corleone Pia!!!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Sunday, February 21, 2016

366 Project - Day 52 - "Abstract (Cathedral)"


February 21, 2016 - "Abstract (Cathedral)"

This morning I'm celebrating mass at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, CT. It has been many years since the last time I was here... and the memories of that particular day flood my mind as I kneel and pray - while a cloud of incense rises, carrying those prayers upward.

Things are much more "formal" here than they are at my own parish. Quite a lot of the prayers and hymns are in Latin... and there's a feeling in the air that I cannot really describe - it just feels "special". It feels good.

Deep in prayer, I find a comfort like none I've known before.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Saturday, February 20, 2016

366 Project - Day 51 - "Staring at the Sea"


February 20, 2016 - "Staring at the Sea"

Standing on the beach...

Staring at the sea...

Staring at the sand...

I'm alive.

I'm dead.

I am the stranger.

Staring at the sky...

Staring at the sand.

Whichever I choose...

It amounts to the same...

Absolutely nothing.

I'm alive.

I'm dead.

I am the stranger.

(Bits and pieces of the song "Killing An Arab" by The Cure - running through my mind as I stand staring out at the beautiful quiet nothingness before me.)

*   *   *

Friday, February 19, 2016

366 Project - Day 50 - "Praying The Rosary (at 80mph)"


February 19, 2016 - "Praying The Rosary (at 80mph)"

The other day I found myself praying The Rosary as we drove home on the highway at almost 60mph. I never thought I'd pray The Rosary "faster" than that... until today, when I found myself praying The Rosary as we drove home on the highway at 80mph.

OK - "Technically" it was closer to 75mph... but still, it was quite a fast speed to be praying The Rosary. I think the only way I'm going to beat that is to pray it during a flight. I wonder if I could convince my wife that we need to fly to Rome or something...

... we'll see!

But all of that silliness aside, I pray The Rosary at least once a day... and truly find it to be one of the most comforting parts of my day. It's a time to reflect on and connect with the Mysteries... and to pray for the intentions of others. It truly is a blessing!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Thursday, February 18, 2016

366 Project - Day 49 - "Abstract (Grandma's Pasta Machine)"


February 18, 2016 - "Abstract (Grandma's Pasta Machine)"

My Grandmother is still very much on my mind today - one day after the 19th anniversary of her passing.

Today's photo is of the cutters on underside of her hand-crank pasta roller machine.

I love and miss you Grandma!

*   *   *

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

366 Project - Day 48 - "Abstract (Water)"


February 17, 2016 - "Abstract (Water)"

Water.

We don't have any at the moment.

Well... That isn't entirely true. We do have some gallon jugs of water that we purchased from the grocery store. We don't, however, have any form of "flowing" water in our house at the moment.

No running water from any of the sinks.

No running water from the tub or shower.

No water for flushing the toilets.

No water.

Why? Because nature recently decided to drop its temperature well below 0˚... freezing a pipe somewhere underneath our house... causing it to burst. Because we're on a shared well system, the constant flow of water through the broken pipe caused the water pressure to drop in our neighbors homes as well. This resulted in our main water line needing to be shut off... and thus we have no water.

We have no idea how the heck we're going to get this fixed - as it's probably going to involve a plumber crawling and working underneath our house. Between "trying to get our plumber here" and "the unknown cost of the repair" - it looks like we might have to be without water for at least a couple of days. Maybe longer. Maybe much, MUCH longer. We'll see.

There are far worse things in life than our temporary discomfort of not having running water. We're able to purchase water for drinking and cooking purposes... and we can shower at the houses of nearby family members. Many people in the world do not have those options. For many people of the world the water that surrounds them is contaminated and undrinkable. For many people there simply isn't any water to begin with - drinkable or not.

Think about it for a minute. I mean REALLY think about it. How many times a day do we each turn on a faucet or flush a toilet? How many times a day do we each use water for one purpose or another? How much do we take those moments... those privileges... that water... for granted?

Now take a moment to think about how many people - both in our own country and around the world - do not have those moments... those privileges... that water. I mean REALLY think about it. How many people do you think are desperately thirsty at this particular moment in time? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?

It hurts to think about such things.

Now I would ask you to please visit www.water.org and learn how you can make a difference in the world.

*   *   *

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

366 Project - Day 47 - "Looking Up"


February 16, 2016 - "Looking Up"

For more than two decades of my life I'd stare up at the glowing moon in the night sky and see so much more than just "the moon".

Now I look up at the very same moon in the very same sky and, while I do still find it to be quite beautiful and wondrous, I simply see "the moon".

It's a very strange feeling. It's neither bad or good... it's just "different".

And the powerful play goes on...

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Monday, February 15, 2016

366 Project - Day 46 - "Abstract (Voices in the Cold)"


February 15, 2016 - "Abstract (Voices in the Cold)"

A couple of days ago, as I helped my Sister-in-law organize some things, I saw a few clips from home movies from the past 20+ years.

I can't really describe the feeling of seeing video footage of people whom you knew and loved and lost over two decades ago. The voices of my aunt and my grandfather - both instantly familiar, yet somewhat "different"... as if the memory of their voices had begun to fade.

... and then there were the videos of my brother.

Actually - to be more accurate - they were mostly videos "by" my brother... as he was the cameraman more often than not. His voice was there though... a voice which - though it has been a constant in my mind for the last ten months - I have not actually heard with my ears for more than a year now.

What will it be like two decades from now if I see such a video again? The thought scares me. The thought that I might one day not recognize his voice.

His voice... which has filled every quiet moment I've had for months on end... intensified by those video recordings... filling my every thought these last couple of days...

His voice... filling my mind even now as I stand in the quiet emptiness of this snowy day.

There is a comfort in such moments. A comfort I never want to let go of. A comfort I never want to forget.

*   *   *

Sunday, February 14, 2016

366 Project - Day 45 - "Valentine's Day (life is like a box of chocolates)"


February 14, 2016 - "Valentine's Day (life is like a box of chocolates)"

Momma always told me that life was like a box of chocolates...

... and then she'd point to the box of chocolates and say:

"These are MY chocolates! Get your own damn box!"

Yep.

"Happy Valentine's Day!"

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Saturday, February 13, 2016

366 Project - Day 44 - "Happy 75th Birthday!"


February 13, 2016 - "Happy 75th Birthday!"

A big "Happy 75th Birthday!" to my Dad!

We love you very much!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Friday, February 12, 2016

366 Project - Day 43 - "Abstract (Fragile)"


February 12, 2016 - "Abstract (Fragile)"

Today's lesson-learned: "Life is like a bowl full of eggs".

I don't know "how", exactly... I only know that it "is".

Maybe it's because eggs are so fragile... just like we are.

Maybe the bowl represents our life as a whole - and the eggs are all of the precious days we've been given.

For each day truly IS precious... and inside of each day that we are blessed with is a golden treasure, waiting to be discovered.

Mother Angelica wrote:

"Life is so short, my Lord. I look at all of my yesterdays and they seem so hazy... while all of my tomorrows are uncertain. The only time I really possess is this tiny moment, and it passes so quickly. It is a most precious gift in your hands... and I shall look at it as I would a treasure."

There... just like I said: "Life is like a bowl full of eggs".

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Thursday, February 11, 2016

366 Project - Day 42 - "Abstract (Spiral)"


February 11, 2016 - "Abstract (Spiral)"

Today seems to be a "blue" sort-of-day.

I don't mean "blue" as in "feeling sad" or anything like that... I just mean that I seem to be noticing the color blue everywhere today. The same objects and scenes are around me today that are around me every other day... but today everything that is blue seems to be popping out at me.

Of course, today also happens to be the day devoted to "Our Lady of Lourdes"... and, more than any other color, I tend to associate "blue" with the Blessed Virgin Mary - especially as "Our Lady of Lourdes".

So today when I say The Rosary I will do so using the blue "Our Lady of Lourdes" Rosary beads that were given to me by my brother as a gift when he stood as my Sponsor for my Confirmation.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

366 Project - Day 41 - "Ash Wednesday"


February 10, 2016 - "Ash Wednesday"

"Remember that you are dust... and unto dust you shall return."

Today marks the beginning of Lent - a season of penance, fasting and prayer within the Catholic Church, which leads up to the Easter Season. You'll often hear of Lent as lasting for forty days, however there are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Why the discrepancy? Because, in addition to the "Forty Days of Lent" - there are the "Five Sundays of Lent" and "Palm Sunday" before we arrive at Easter Sunday. Every Sunday of the year is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ... and therefore those six Sundays - though they occur during the Lenten Season - are considered separate from the days of Lent itself.

Today is one of the two required days of fasting within the Catholic Church... the other being Good Friday. On those two days all Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are required to fast, unless unable to do so for medical reasons. What does "fasting" mean? It doesn't mean that you are not allowed to eat at all... it does, however, mean that you are only to eat "one full meal" during the course of the day, and that meal cannot include meat. You are also permitted to have two small snacks to help sustain you through the day, but these two snacks together must not equal a full meal - and again, they cannot include meat of any sort.

You'll also hear it said that Catholics are not permitted to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. This is true, as the Fridays during the Lenten Season are "Days of Abstinence" for all Catholics ages 14 and older. On these days, Catholics are permitted to eat several full meals throughout the day - but none of those meals can contain meat of any sort.

What many Catholics do not know, however, is that the "No Meat of Fridays" rule does not only apply to Fridays during Lent... it applies to ALL Fridays of the year. Fridays during Ordinary Time, the Easter Season, and the Seasons of Advent and The Nativity are ALL "Days of Penance". This means that on ALL Fridays of the year, Catholics ages 14 and older are required to abstain from eating meat of any sort. The only exception to this rule is if a Solemnity happens to fall on a Friday (which happened earlier this year, when January 1st - "The Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God" - fell on a Friday).

This rule comes directly from the Vatican's "Code of Canon Law" - and can be found online at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4O.HTM

In the United States, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared that on Fridays outside of the Lenten season, Catholics may choose to eat meat "only if the faithful substitute some other penitential behavior in its place".  Unfortunately most American Catholics heard this declaration as "you can eat meat on Fridays" - and tend to ignore the "only if you substitute some other penitential behavior in its place" part. This explains why so many people - both Catholic and non-Catholic alike - give me a look of confusion when it isn't Lent and I tell them that I cannot eat meat on a Friday.

I'll end with the words of my pastor, Fr. Shawn W. Cutler:

"May we have a blessed Lent during these 40 days as we spiritually walk the stations of the Cross with Jesus. May our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving change us for the better not only during Lent, but also throughout every season of our life. May we always remember that we are, indeed, dust, but not destined only to remain dust. As we progress along our Lenten pilgrimage, may we trust that God's work in us remains steadfast while we carry not only our own cross, but help to alleviate the weight of the crosses of our brothers and sisters traveling beside us from Calvary to the glory of the Resurrection in heaven."

*   *   *

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

366 Project - Day 40 - "Abstract (Razor Blades)"


February 09, 2016 - "Abstract (Razor Blades)"

I have a package of a hundred razor blades. I use them for sizing artwork and for cutting boxes and packing materials for things I sell on eBay - stuff like that.

In my days as a picture framer, razor blades were a common part of everyday life. I'd hold them in my mouth as I was working with artwork and matting. Sometimes - if I was bored - I'd spin them around in my mouth with my tongue - which used to freak my brother out. I'd never get cut though. Not even the slightest knick. I'd cut myself working with sheets of glass all of the time - but never with the razor blades.

It's funny though, how something so small and seemingly "insignificant" can hold the potential of causing incredible damage... hurt... pain... and even permanent scars.

That's true of a lot of things in life though, isn't it? Take "words" for example; they can be much smaller than a razor blade - yet do a thousand times more damage. A cut from a razor blade can heal rather quickly and smoothly... and sometimes without leaving the slightest scar - yet certain words said to someone we care for can bring about such pain and anger and hurt that it becomes a wound that can never be completely healed. Once such words have been said, it's impossible to "un-hear" them.

Today's society has a habit of throwing around words without thinking of the consequences of what is being said. Even a word with only four letters can be used in a moment of frustration or anger as if it were nothing at all... and without any thought for just how damaging it might be to the person it is being so casually flung at.

The careless use of words goes far beyond such "one-on-one" exchanges. The frequent use of negative or hateful words floods everything from Facebook to television and everything in between. Not a day goes by that I can scroll through my Facebook feed without seeing some sort of negative words being thrown around at someone - whether it's someone bashing the President of the United States... a particular political candidate or party... a particular religion... a particular race or nationality... a particular lifestyle, or whatever. From hateful posts and jokes about President Obama to hateful posts and jokes about Republicans and Democrats. From hateful posts and jokes about Muslims to hateful posts and jokes about Christians or the Catholic Church or whatever. I see it from both the "right" and the "left"... from "conservatives" and from "liberals"... from the "religious" and the "non-religious" - it seems to know no bounds, and I fully admit that I have contributed to the problem many times as well!

In some ways "words" are among the most powerful things we possess. They can certainly be among our most dangerous and damaging weapons.

In Chapter 12 of Luke's Gospel, Jesus says: "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

"Uncle Ben" from the Spiderman comics sums up that verse beautifully when he says: "With great power comes great responsibility."

Perhaps it's time that we realize just how much power we truly possess... and start choosing to use that power responsibly.

*   *   *


Monday, February 8, 2016

366 Project - 39 - "Abstract (Snow Day)"


February 08, 2016 - "Abstract (Snow Day)"

It's a cold, snowy day here in Connecticut. The schools had an emergency/weather-related dismissal - so our kids were home from school by 10:45AM. Now it's time to crank up the heat... have some hot cocoa... and curl up on the couch, in front of the TV.

Yep... Just a typical snowy day here in Connecticut.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Sunday, February 7, 2016

366 Project - Day 38 - "Holy Hour (Adoration)"


February 07, 2016 - "Holy Hour (Adoration)"

Today is my first official day of Eucharistic Adoration... my first official "Holy Hour".

Our church is blessed to have a Perpetual Adoration Chapel - a chapel that is open 24 hours a day - every day of the year. Weekday masses are held in the chapel each morning... but the other hours of the day the chapel is set up for Eucharistic Adoration - with the consecrated Eucharist in full view in a beautiful monstrance upon the altar.

There has to be someone in the chapel at all times - so some parishioners sign up for an assigned "Holy Hour" - one hour each and every week that they will be in the chapel, in part so that "someone" will be physically present... and in part so that there will never be an hour when someone is not "keeping watch with the Lord".

Well... though I've spent hours in the chapel before, today was my first "official" day as an Adorer. From now on - every single Sunday - I will spend one hour in the chapel immediately after attending mass... "keeping watch" and offering prayers.

I cannot begin to tell you how beautiful such an hour spent in prayer can be... how comforting it can make you feel to sit there in silence, in the presence of the Lord. It almost brings you to tears.

Actually it did bring me to tears. Happy tears. Comforting tears. Humbling tears.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *


Saturday, February 6, 2016

366 Project - Day 37 - "Sacred Heart"


February 06, 2016 - "Sacred Heart"

Today I'm in Sacred Heart Church in Stamford, CT.

This church has meant a lot to my family over the years. Weddings, Christenings, Funerals... most have taken place here for the last five, six, seven decades or so. I haven't stepped foot in this place since November 2000... and that was for an extremely sad reason.

Today I'm back... kneeling and praying before the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus... and sitting in the front pew looking up at the beautiful mosaic wall behind the altar. I'm here for Reconciliation... which is a bit strange, because I usually go to Confession at my own parish in Brookfield... but since I'm down this way today, I thought I'd go here instead.

It's a very different experience. At my parish - St. Marguerite Bourgeoys - the Confessional is a side room within the church. It is bright and open. You can choose to confess hidden behind the screen... or you can sit in the chair face-to-face with your priest (which is what I usually do). Here at Sacred Heart, however - it's a bit more "old school". You enter a very tiny confessional which is pitch black until the priest opens the screen and a tiny bit of a glow creeps in. It's still too dark to see anything - so I found myself having to use the glow of my iPhone to find the kneeler and such... and was praying that the priest didn't notice the glow and think I was doing something like checking Facebook while he recited the prayers of absolution! (Thankfully he did not.)

Emerging from the Confessional I knelt before the Tabernacle to give penance, and I could not help but feel the "presence" of all of my family members who have spent so much time here - looking at this exact same mosaic image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was very comforting.

On the way out I lit a candle for the souls of all of the loved ones my family has lost... and left with a sense of comfort I have not felt for quite some time. I guess, in a strange and roundabout sort-of-way, it's good to be back "home".

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Friday, February 5, 2016

366 Project - Day 36 - "Baseball (Options)"


February 05, 2016 - "Baseball (Options)"

So for the first time ever I'm finding myself looking forward to the start of the baseball season more than the start of some other sport or even the upcoming Super Bowl.

I'm particularly excited that we have tickets to one of the "Mike Piazza Weekend" games at CitiField. My son Brandon and I were both excited about the possibility of going even before we tried to get tickets. It took a little bit of convincing to get my wife to go along with it though... and a bit of it had to do with whether or not our daughter Caitlynn "did" or "didn't" want to go.

So this was basically the presentation I made to my wife:

Option #1: If Caitlynn DOES want to go... we buy four tickets and all four of us go.

Option #2: If Caitlynn DOES NOT want to go... we buy three tickets and you, Brandon and I will go to the game without her.

Option #3: If NEITHER of you really want to go... we buy two tickets and Brandon and I go to the game together by train.

Option #4: We buy four tickets to the game... then sell them on Stub-Hub for a higher price than we paid so we can use the money to buy two tickets in much better seats for some other Mets game later on.

Option #5: We don't buy any tickets to the game... but we go to CitiField anyway, dressed in really dirty beat-up Mets-related clothing and sit outside the stadium with a cardboard sign, begging for tickets. Caitlynn and Brandon will need to have dirty faces and start crying, for added effect.

Option #6: We don't go to a Mets game at all - because we've decided to buy new watches for each of us instead.

Option #7: We don't go to a Mets game at all - because we're going to use the money to get theater-style seating for the living room, so we can get rid of that freakin' uncomfortable couch!

Option #8: We don't go to a Mets game at all - because we're going to use the money to rent a movie theater to watch "JAWS" for a really big "40th Birthday Party" for me in October.

Option #9: We completely stop being Mets fans. Caitlynn becomes a Nun... Brandon joins some sort of religious order that spends their entire life quietly gaming for the Lord... you and I take separate bedrooms (you take the office, because it has better heat... I keep our current bedroom, because of the ceiling fan)... your room will be filled with books and lots of piles of office supplies and canned goods that you got a really good deal on... my room will have a butt-load of freaky religious pictures and statues and candles and I'll sit in there playing the organ which we'd buy using the money we would have spent on Mets tickets.

So yeah... let me know which option we're going to be going with and I'll take it from there.


She came home that night and said "We're going with Option #1"... and that was that. I asked if I could still get the organ... but she said "no".

(lifeisgood!)

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

366 Project - Day 35 - "Awake (Paralysis)"


February 04, 2016 - "Awake (Paralysis)"

Last night was a tough night.

Actually, I guess I should say that this morning was a tough morning... because I didn't even go to bed until after it was already several hours into "today".

Sleep was hard and heavy. My dreams were so intricately detailed that it was like watching a movie with a storyline so complex that if you were to be distracted for just a second you would completely be thrown off for the rest of the film.

They were "heavy" dreams. Not nightmares... but rather very emotional and unsettling dreams. When I woke up it was because of something that happened within the dream. It was a very sharp sort of wake up... waking up into shock. I felt as if I could not breathe... I could feel my heart racing... My vision was out of focus and overexposed... and my body was paralyzed. I could not move... or, at least, I felt as if I could not move. I felt as if I did not "know" how to make my body move.

So I stayed like that - for almost half-an-hour.

Finally I was able to turn my head... and look up at the Sacred Heart of Jesus image hanging on the wall beside me. Memories and thoughts started flooding in as things came into focus and I started to realize and remember. The large image had belonged to my grandfather. It was part of a larger piece that formally dedicated him and his family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the 1940s, before my mother was even born. When my grandfather died I was holding his hand... and when I realized he was gone, I fainted. Someone - I think it was my brother - carried me into my grandfather's bedroom... and when I "came to" the very first thing I saw was that exact framed image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus hanging on the wall beside my grandfather's bed. It was given to me by my Aunt Pat very soon after.

But that was over a quarter-century ago... and here I am staring at that very same picture upon waking... only know it has a second Sacred Heart of Jesus attached to its bottom left corner - the prayer card from my brother's funeral. Most of the dreams I had last night were about him... and so it kinda made sense to me to be stuck there motionless, staring at the image that I identify with him so much.

Somehow I was able to lift myself out of bed. I was dizzy, disoriented and off-balance as I made my way out to the kitchen. It took me forever to become fully calm, fully aware of who I was, where I was and what I was doing. I looked at the shrine by the kitchen door... and there was the Sacred Heart of Jesus again... staring back at me.

I poured myself some coffee - and instead of turning on my computer like I normally would, I headed for the couch and turned on the television. I went to my DVR'd recordings - and there, at the very top of the list of recently recorded shows - was a show from EWTN about the virtues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I had forgotten that I had even set the DVR to record it. I started watching it... paused it when Holly called to chat... then went back to watching it after hanging up. I fell asleep before the show even ended... and woke up very hard again - this time to the sound of the doorbell ringing and the dog barking like crazy. The mailman had delivered a package... a package which contained a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which I had recently purchased.

More thoughts and memories came flooding in as I brought the package over to my desk... and turned on my computer. I checked my e-mail... and right as I was about to minimize the window and switch to my browser to check Facebook my computer "dinged" as a new e-mail message came through. No... it had nothing to do with the Sacred Heart of Jesus... rather it was from someone in Stamford who was in need of some picture framing with a very fast turnaround - and she had come across the Facebook Page for "Peter's Art of Framing" - which I'm the admin for - and she was hoping that Peter would be able to do the job.

Now - completely emotionally overwhelmed by the entire day thus far - I found myself writing a reply to that message and passing along a recommendation for another frame shop as tears started rolling down my face.

And now I'm here... writing about it all... wondering "What next?".

I don't know.

Tonight I think I will be spending a Holy Hour in the Adoration Chapel at my church... praying.

"O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen."

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

366 Project - Day 34 - "Abstract (Pinot Grigio)"


February 03, 2016 - "Abstract (Pinot Grigio)"

Yep. Today is DEFINITELY a "several glasses of wine" kind of day!

(lifeisgood!)

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

366 Project - Day 33 - "Mike Piazza Weekend"


February 02, 2016 - "Mike Piazza Weekend"

Yesterday was a pretty sucky day.

Today? Today does not suck!

Why? Well, lots of reasons... just one of which happens to be these four tickets for the first of the three New York Mets games that will make up "Mike Piazza Weekend" at the end of July.

(lifeisgood!)

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Monday, February 1, 2016

366 Project - Day 32 - "Dark Day Prayers"


February 01, 2016 - "Dark Day Prayers"

Today I'm finally feeling better "physically"...

... "emotionally", not so much.

Have you ever had one of those days where everything that could go wrong does go wrong? It builds and it builds and it builds, like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up more snow... becoming bigger and bigger and bigger. The day goes on... yet you keep falling down the hill... and things just seem to get worse and worse and worse.

Until you hit rock bottom.

How far down is "rock bottom"? I don't know, exactly. I only know that when you've hit it, you know for sure that you've hit it.

I'm far from hitting rock bottom in most areas of my life, and yet I know that the bottom is very much in sight in some areas. Important areas.

I haven't hit it just yet... but I have reached my wits' end. Until today I didn't know exactly where that end was... but now I seem to have reached it.

I know that everything will be OK in the long-run. I know that tomorrow is a new day. I know that the frustration of "now" doesn't have to carry over unless I choose to let it.

It's just so freakin' hard NOT to let it at moments like these, when you're dangling so close to the bottom.

Lord... I believe. Help my unbelief!

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