“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Hello Old Friend,

It’s Holy Week again, a time of year that I’ve really learned to appreciate over the past several years or so.  Spring as a whole is a really powerful time of year in the Church, with Ash Wednesday and the Lenten abstention, then the progression of the Passion and Death of Jesus (Palm Sunday and Good Friday) and his ultimate Resurrection (Easter).  Add these traditions to the natural blessing of new birth among both flora and fauna, and it’s clear to see that this is the perfect time to revisit, restrengthen, resurrect one’s faith in God, however He might appear to you.

We went to Mass on Sunday and while I sat next to the three women in my life and turn palm fronds into crosses, I begin to feel something, an idea, an understanding, opening up inside of my mind.  While this blossom hasn’t fully bloomed, I felt like I needed to take it out of mind brain and put it on the page so that I can read and re-read and dissect it and hopefully reach more solid ground with it.

I’m not 100% sure how Palm Sunday goes in other churches.  I don’t remember it when we went to a Methodist, then Lutheran services growing up.  But I do know that when you go to Mass, there is a part where the story from the Last Supper through the Death and Burial of Jesus is read aloud and the congregation reads the part of the condemners of Christ.  We read the words that were used to condemn our Savior to death on the cross.  We play the part of the unruly mob.

It threw me off the first time, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me.  We are the descendants of the people who condemned Him.  They swore His blood upon their hands and upon ours as well.  It was humanity that wanted and needed the death of Jesus.  Not just because that unruly mob hated him and the things he was saying.  Not just because the wanted to silence a rabble-rousing do-gooder that spoke against the status quo.  That’s why they wanted him to die.  They, we, needed Jesus to die because it was laid out in Scriptures.  Our Salvation was dependent on the Resurrection and thereby the Death of Jesus on the Cross.  We, as Catholics honor a crucified Christ because it is in that moment that the Scriptures were partially fulfilled.  There is no resurrection without death.  There is no Christianity without the Crucifixion.

I feel it more and more each time Palm Sunday comes around.  I feel shame and guilt that people would betray and humiliate and degrade and falsely sentence Jesus and that they would try to feed him wine with animal bile and shove thorns on his head and make the whole of the affair that much harder to endure.  It’s hard to imagine being in that position.  Knowing the end result and enduring the punishment in the meantime.  Watching your closest friends deny and betray you.  Listening to the crowd yell for you to die because you tried to teach people to be good to one another and reject the evils of the world.  Enduring the suffering.  Enduring.  Suffering.  The Passion.

That’s what this whole post is about really:  the meaning of Passion.  That’s my Holy Week revelation for 2017.  You see, the word ‘passion’ derives from the Old Latin word ‘passio’ meaning suffering or enduring.  It’s a struggle.  Passion isn’t supposed to be easy or comfortable.  It should be a struggle.  Life isn’t easy or comfortable so the things that matter shouldn’t be, either.  I think that passion implies motion and force.  Passion is a river, not a lake.  It moves and flows and adapts and sweeps and crushes and propels and delivers and hinders.  Or perhaps it’s an ocean.  With depth and mystery.  I don’t know, I like the river because rivers have such a constant and powerful presence in the Good Book.

Passion is the journey more than the destination.  It gets you to where you need to be, where you’re called to be.  It’s the lead-up to the Cross, the Resurrection, the Salvation.  Take that from the Book and introduce it into your life.  Find what’s worth struggling for and embrace that struggle because it will lead you to your glory.  And don’t be afraid because God is with you, all the way.

 

Faithfully,

Glass

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“I understand the large hearts of heroes, the courage of present times and all times.” – Walt Whitman

I found this quote tucked cleanly between the introduction and first chapter of a collection of American Tall Tales that I found in my childhood-ish closet.

Let me explain.

I spent the night at my parents’ house this past Thursday night because I was accompanying my parents to my dad’s doctor’s appointments on Thursday and Friday. I couldn’t sleep that night so I went through the closet in my childhood-ish room and reminisced and threw a bunch of stuff away (and found several interesting trinkets along the way).

Let me explain further.

Last Tuesday, I started the day with a call from my dad.  In that phone call, my dad informed me that had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

The news was devastating.

Somehow, the last 8 days have felt like 8 years and 8 minutes.  Time doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  This whole situation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I’m trying to wrap my head around of this and do as much as I can to help.  But I’ll get back to that.

My dad is the toughest guy I know.  He played high school football.  He served in the Navy for seven years.  He was a mailman for a while when mailman were still called mailmen.  When my brother and I were born, my dad continued to work his way up in the retail realm to provide not just the food, clothing, and shelter that we needed to live, but also whatever basketball stuff my brother needed or musical stuff I needed for band.  At one point, he started his own company out of our house.  He put us in good cars and taught us how to fix them.

Everything I fix with my own two hands is thanks to the spirit that my dad instilled in me.

Every truly manly thing I’ve ever done is thanks to seeing my dad do it first.

This whole cancer thing is scary because my dad was still operating in Beast Mode prior to being diagnosed.  My parents babysit my niece and nephew while my sister-in-law is at work, so he was still being called upon to be the main positive male role model for those two for the majority of their week.

[I think that’s pretty awesome though and good for everyone involved.]

We all still need him around.

My dad had surgery on his neck when I was a teenager.  I remember it not just making me nervous, but really shattering my worldview, because I began to see really see my dad as a human being.  While I understood the glory and infallibility of his enormous heart, I remember the realization that my father’s body, like mine and everyone else’s, would be eroded by the sands of time.  It was a total mind-cuss and has kind of lingered in the back of my mind since then.

{I have shared this story somewhat recently with my best friend in El Paso, whose dad has also undergone multiple back-related surgeries and he felt/feels the same way.  The impact that a man’s father poor health/injury can have on that man is, it seems, staggering.  He and I are both younger brothers, though.  I wonder if that might have something to do about it.  I should investigate.}

Through it all, through different jobs and parenting teenage boys and good times and bad, my  dad has shown the overwhelming size of his courageous heart.

What amazes me now, is that he is, in many ways, staring down this diagnosis like it’s a flat tire or a leaky faucet.  Not in the woe-is-me way that others might, but like it is just another problem that needs to be fixed, so where do we get started?

My own coping has developed from four different sources: the courage of my father, the courage to put this and everything else into God’s hand, the power of knowledge and credible research, and the love and support of my wife (who is always there for me, even when I’m not feeling very courageous at all).

This has been the longest short road so far and we’ve still got a ways to go.  But we will stay courageous, ever courageous.

I’ll keep you posted.  Please keep us in your thoughts.

Courageously,

Glass

Five-Minute Betterment: “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives” – John F. Kennedy

I, like many people I know, have a list of favorite presidents. I think G. Wash (George Washington, of course) and Abe Lincoln were cool and did wonders for our country so they’re givens. JFK is on my list because he handled some real heavy stuff like a champ despite his age and the public’s reaction to him being a Catholic. 

I’ll tell you who has climbed to perhaps the top of my list recently is Dwight David Eisenhower. If you ever get a chance, I would strongly suggest that you take some time to read his Wikipedia page, but for now I’ll just give you the one of the many reasons why I like Ike so much.

The Interstate Highway System!

Ask yourself: When was the last time I utilized one of the major highways on the map below?

  
Because I use them all the time. In fact, the Family Glass et al just traveled down I-37 to hit the beach for some fun in the sun. 

There ain't no doubt I love this land #GodBlesstheUSA #America

A post shared by David Glass (@thatmanglass) on

And before that? Well, a couple of days ago we moved camp down I-35 a ways.

And before that? Well, we took the I-30 across to Arkansas and the I-55 up to Illinois for a jaunt with Holland’s parents. 

All the while, in my most curmudgeon-y way I kept (keep) ranting about how amazing DDE is and how outstanding of an idea it was for him to establish a system of highways that drastically improved automobile travel in our nation. 

[It all started with a mission that Ike was assigned as a much younger man that involved assessing road travel conditions from the east to west coasts. His team averaged something like 5 mph over the entirety of the trip and the experience stuck. Moving on..]

My point was that young people these days (curmudgeon) don’t have any appreciation (curmudgeon) and take everything for granted (curmudgeon). 

People in general (myself included) don’t say thank you enough. 

So, today’s #FMB is take JFK’s advice and make some time to say thank you to the people who have made a difference in your life. 

[Thank you President Eisenhower, for the Interstate System. It has made the country infinitely better.]

Here’s my real one:

Thank you, Holland, for being in my life. Thank you so much for your love and support and for believing in me more than I ever could have imagined. Thank you for carrying and birthing our daughter and for keeping her alive and well all this time. I know my role in that pales in comparison. Thank you for your smiles and your tears and everything in between. You are my whole world and I love you more than life itself. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Now it’s your turn, Dear Reader. 

Take five minutes and thank someone for the difference that they’ve made in your life. And thank you, as always, for reading. 

Eternally,

Gratefully,

Glass