Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Be Compassionate?

"The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another."
-Thomas Merton

Friday, January 24, 2014

Judgment and Respect (A quote from Teddy Roosevelt)

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
- Teddy Roosevelt
The only people worthy of criticizing you are the people in the trenches with you.

Monday, January 20, 2014


"It does not matter what level of perfection you reach.  What others think or don't think of how much you do does not matter, nor does your judgment of yourself.  All that matters is that mercy has taken you for ever, from the origin of your existence.  Mercy called you to love, because mercy loved you.

Holiness means always affirming -- before everything else, in everything else -- the embrace of the Father, the merciful, pitying movement of Christ, his gesture, that is he himself, independent of everything that stirs and has the appearance of life in us….

We must become more and more aware of God's covenant with us, of life as God's involvement with us, and therefore of the irrational influences of our outbursts, of our projects.

Nothingness, destruction, exile is the life proper to the world, especially our life, without this covenant, which remains in me even in the destruction and in the desolation caused by my wicked heart.  Grace holds fast because God leads me to discover what he is and to understand that from my destruction he makes something new bud forth--an identification with him and the Father."

-- Servant of God Luigi Giussani (+ A.D. 2005)

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Point to Ponder from Joseph Campbell

"What's made up in the head is the fiction. What comes out of the heart is a myth."

- Joseph Campbell, The Hero's Journey

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Rumination on Death

We all want to live a long and healthy life. At 58, I know too many people who died far too young and far younger than I--from heart attacks, 9/11, cancer, an accident, AIDs, a murder, a suicide, a brain infection, alcohol. Each death makes me wonder--Why am I still here, and they are not?

It makes me grateful for my own life. I sense some truth in that line from Billy Joel, "Only the good die young." God takes us when we are ready to be taken. And none of us know the mind of God. It behooves us to find and pursue our purpose in life while we still can. It behooves us to make every day count. For reasons unknown to us, we the living are not ready to be taken yet. We the living still have work to do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thomas Torregrossa, RIP

Friend and working colleague Thomas Torregrossa died of a heart attack on New Year's Eve. He was younger than I. Tom was a memorably and notoriously talented comic and mimic--Citibank's answer to Robin Williams. I met Tom when we were both working the night shift. Tom had married a woman from Mexico, and I appreciated his telling me about her family and the differences from American customs, like mariachi music and the togetherness of family. Tom was well known for having taught himself to speak Spanish like a native Mexican. At work, when dealing with colleagues from Mexico or other Central American countries, in order to avoid inter-regional misunderstandings, Spanish speakers from other areas always asked Tom to be the intermediary. He was that good. At the time we met, I had recently married a woman from Hong Kong. From age 10, Tom had a stepmother from Hong Kong. Tom and I knew the same (few) Cantonese words and expressions. We shared many common, humorous experiences about encountering certain Chinese foods for the first time, like chicken feet and thousand-year-old eggs. We had an acquired, shared love of juk/jo (congee) and other specific Chinese foods. We also had the same experiences of being required to drink extremely foul smelling/looking homemade herbal concoctions whenever we got sick! We were both lost and confused by hot/cold body systems and hot/cold foods. Also memorable were the times we went out for lunch together to Wo Hops's in Chinatown at 03:00 A.M.  Tom informed me that the reason Wo Hop was opened 24x7 was because if they ever closed it for a few hours the place would be invaded by rats, and they 'd never be able to get rid of them.  Tom was a plus for humanity and for anyone who knew him. I am greatly saddened by his death but even more saddened for his wife and children.