#Jim

Admiring A Simple Life

It was many summers ago. We were getting out of high school and decisions had to be made. Do we go to college or do we find work and go out on our own? A good friend of ours decided to work. He was a tough, self-made man. He was adopted, deaf, had a speech impediment and was balding at the tender age of 18. He moved to Colorado and got a job as a short order cook. The odds were stacked against him but he rose above his disadvantages. I was too young then to know, but I know now a profound admiration. It was years later that we learned of his death. There was a fire in the small kitchen where he worked and because he couldn’t hear, he perished in Colorado. I was too young then to know, but I know now a deep sorrow. The blessing of his life was that he was that he led a Chrisitan life and I believe that even the fires of hell couldn’t keep him from getting to heaven.

by Diego

Little Free Gifts

There’s been a growing trend lately of “Little Free Libraries.” If you have ever taken a bike ride or walk through different neighborhoods you occasionally come across a box in the front of a home stacked with various books that can be borrowed and read. You can either take a book or leave a book for the next person. All of us that like to read benefit. There was recently a story out of a small town in rural northern New York about a family who started a “Little Free Pantry” in the front of their home. You can take food out of it or if you’ve just been fed you can leave some food for the next needy person. All of us that like to eat benefit. What’s next? Perhaps one day we’ll stroll by a home with a “Little Free Blessing” box in the front.  Anyone who needs a blessing can take one from the box. Or, if you’ve just been blessed, you can leave a life-giving blessing for the next person. All of us that need the Holy Spirit benefit.

by Diego

Surf’s Up

In the summer time, the surf spots around Dana Point get crowded with people from around the world. We’re all looking for that perfect wave to fulfill our yearning and give us a head full of gratitude. A common nomenclature in the surf world is known as bathymetry. It’s a scientific name for the contour of earth below the water.  It’s what shapes the wave and gives it form. There are waves called DOHO, Cottons and Sano. It’s a little like us Christians. We call out to YHWH, Abba and Adonai. There is a type of bathymetry shaping us below our soul. It’s a place where we form our beliefs, morals and commitment to each other. It’s what makes our outer appearance either glow or dim. It’s the only place we will ever fulfill our yearning and give us a heart of gratitude. Like the summer time, our place of worship gets crowded around Easter and Christmas. We’re all looking for that perfect wave that will shape our soul. Surfs Up. Peace be with you.

by Diego

Unbound Vacation

Last year my family and I took a vacation to Central America. We had been to Costa Rica before but this trip was to Guatemala. What an experience! Perhaps the most profound trip we have ever taken. We went with a group called Unbound. Unbound is an organization dedicated to the poor and marginalized. They are Christian, gospel based, spiritual luminaries dedicated to the less fortunate of the world. We first heard about Unbound at Sunday mass. We signed up to be sponsors and the next thing you know we’re visiting Kendal, our sponsored child, in Guatemala.  We lived with other sponsors in an Unbound building. We traveled by bus from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango. Along the way we visited villages of sponsored children. They performed for us, fed us and brought us to their humble homes. Kendal had to take a nine hour bus ride from the border of Honduras to be with us for one afternoon. He said no words, was scared and anxious, but he loved the music and we loved him.

by Diego

God and the Ocean

The ocean has always been an allegory for me of God’s presence on earth. Only recently I have come to embrace it. When I was a kid, growing up on Long Island, summers could not come quickly enough. We lived about eight miles from the Atlantic Ocean.  My buddy and I would get a quick lift from someone on the block to get to the parkway. In the summer the parkway was lined with woods, big bugs and wild stray dogs. We had to walk through these woods for about four miles. Once we emerged from the woods we could smell the salty sea air and see the great bays that lead to the ocean. We then hitched a ride on the last inlet before we reached the sand dunes and the exhilarating wide-open ocean. There life changed in an instant. Our sins were redeemed, our spirits were alive. All of us are on a difficult path to redemption. Through the woods and the travail, we prevail. The presence of God right here on earth.

by Diego

Nature’s Lesson

There’s a famous quote written on the first signpost as you enter Mammoth Lakes. “The mountains are calling and I must go.” Hopefully, one day, all of us will hear our own personal calling. But as much as we need to grow as individuals and move on to higher ground, we also need to spread out our roots and contribute something to each other. The great redwoods grow to heights nothing else can grow to, yet their root system is shallow. They have no main root that descends downward from the radicle and gives off smaller roots. Instead the roots spread outward sixty to eighty feet, supporting all the other great trees around them. In this way, the hundreds of gallons of water needed to sustain life is distributed equally along all their trunks from root to crown. So as great and pure as John Muir’s quote is, so is Mother Teresa’s: “If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out.” In nature we find meaning.

by Diego

Road Trip

Next week marks the one-year anniversary of a trip my daughter and I took. We started a 5500-mile drive from Santa Cruz University to Skagway, Alaska. We had no set plans, no hotel reservations, a couple of sleeping bags and a head full of expectation. We were not disappointed. The road provided us the horizon relationships are built on. Every day that horizon bent around the curvature of the earth but met us at our center. There will always be times in our life when we forget to see the sunset or feel the pounding surf or hear birds chirping. It takes an effort or a road trip to absorb the beauty that has been gifted to us. This phenomenon accompanied us everyday. On the trip we crossed a border; camped with bears, cried in Watson Lake, changed direction during a rainstorm and sang songs to an iPod in unison with rumbling tires.  There’s something biblical and beautiful about a parent/child relationship. Sometimes we just need a vehicle and a road to travel down.

by Diego

Borders

There are all kinds of borders in our lives. There are physical borders, mental borders and boarders of someone else’s construction. Each of us are challenged at that proverbial fork in the road, at the threshold not yet crossed, at the border of our fear, closed for repair. The decisions we make at these mileposts are measured by the actions we take. It is us who decide right from wrong, compassion from oppression. We all stand at some protected border crossing waiting to get to the other side. There is one side on which we serve and another side where we demand to be served. Which side we cross over will determine how our lives are shaped. “Two feet of love in action” is a rally call from the bishops to give us a simple guide to follow at our protected border. It is a call to make the right decision in a spirit of service and gratitude. It is a call we can live by, side by side with our neighbors and beyond our borders.

by Diego