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Morning Sun
  • TRUE STORIES: Bathed in the Light

  • Trappist monk Thomas Keating says that the season of Advent is like a time of pregnancy when a new life begins within us and makes itself known through flashes of spiritual insight.



    Further, the joy of the season is found in the discovery that the limits to our growth into higher states of consciousness are removed with the transmission of the divine light of Christmas.

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  • Trappist monk Thomas Keating says that the season of Advent is like a time of pregnancy when a new life begins within us and makes itself known through flashes of spiritual insight.
    Further, the joy of the season is found in the discovery that the limits to our growth into higher states of consciousness are removed with the transmission of the divine light of Christmas.
    A divine light that cuts across darkness, prejudice, preconceived ideas, prepackaged values, false expectations, phoniness and hypocrisy to present us with the truth.
    Thus the activities of everyday life become sacramental.
    •  •  •  •  •
    Monday morning, a retired army veteran of twenty years (Somalia, Kosevo, Iraq, and Afghanistan) seeking to set up an orthodox Christian group and a support system for his fellow vets on campus happened into my office at the college.
    What followed was a sincere visit about healing, spiritual journeys, monastery visits and his desire to help his fellow veterans get “out of the woods” (free of the isolation, angry outbursts, anxiety, panic attacks, and night terrors that characterize PTSD).
    I felt blessed by the earnestness and luminosity of the connection — so much so that I had to tell some friends about my gratitude at a meeting later in the day.
    •  •  •  •  •
    Monday evening I told a paperboy story about going to Pallucca’s grocery store in Frontenac on Christmas eve and the special gift of Italian cookies I received from the town bachelor barber, Frank Prete, and his mother in their simple kitchen early Christmas morning back in 1961.
    It was my part of the Stilwell Hotel Christmas Lighting Ceremony that also featured Italian songs performed by the Pittsburg High School Girls Glee under the direction of Susan Laushman with PSU student teacher Andrew Hayse conducting and Joey Pogue reading the names of those memorialized.
    Following my reading, as Susan played piano and Andrew shaped the girls voices with facial nods and arm and hand gestures, I sat sighing and smiling beneath the lighted lobby dome with my eyes closed — imagining I was listening to Padre Antonio Vivaldi’s all girl choir at the Ospedale della Pietà, the orphanage in Venice where he served as music director in the 1700s.
    •  •  •  •  •
    Tuesday morning I took brother Bill to the Via Christi emergency room because of swelling and discoloration in his lower leg.
    Bill loves hospitals.
    From the initial nurse’s questions to doctor’s examination to blood draw to ultrasound to diagnosis to discharge, he smiled broadly, named objects, asked questions and did an ongoing narrative of the whole progression of events as we listened and sang along to Frankie Yankovic polka tunes on my iPad in between examinations and procedures.
    I had little doubt, as I saw Bill head across the sun drenched parking lot for home with my sister, LoRee, that he’d left the hospital staff in better spirits than before he arrived.
    Page 2 of 2 - •  •  •  •  •
    Wednesday morning I read a cutting from Dave Barry’s “The Shepherd, the Angel, & Walter the Miracle Dog” at the Pittsburg Public Library Christmas gathering.
    It’s a funny and poignant story, set on Christmas eve 1960, that centers around the family dog dying and a new one arriving on the same day, a Christmas pageant, a really big bat poop problem, spontaneous ecumenical prayer and more.
    I hitched (a good hitch, full of sweetness and light) when the kids were calling goodbye to their old dog, Frank, with their new shelter dog, Walter, riding happily home with them in the family station wagon.
    The rest of the day I was a little fragile but, nonetheless, very grateful to Carol Ann Robb for having asked me to be a part of the experience.
    •  •  •  •  •
    Thursday was the two-year anniversary of the day our beloved Labrador retriever, Andre, died in my arms in the middle of fetching a tennis ball after our early morning walk. I had a long talk with him as I traveled our old route.
    Later Linda and I hitched a little (a good hitch full of sweetness and light as well) in the kitchen as we smiled and teared-up with memories of his radiance — his delightful looks, his readiness to play, his goofy habits, his undying love and affection.
    •  •  •  •  •
    Thursday I had to drive my son three and a half hours to Newton, Kansas north of Wichita. The day started with a disagreement that nearly escalated too far — to the point of calling the whole thing off. But, with a little patience and delay in departure, we finally got on the road.
    I decided to put on the Allman Bros. blues CD as we headed past Girard, which worked out fine for both our moods. By about a hundred miles out, we were able to get a conversation going; a good one about books, sports, music, family, and spirituality.
    I drove back to Pittsburg alone, bathed in the light of the west angling, December, Kansas sun — a little sad but full of Advent truth — listening to the buffeting wind and the sacramental murmur of tires on the highway.

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