Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Bob Doherty is a Jesuit spiritual director and teacher in Massachusetts. I got to meet him, and got him to do a program for some Midwestern Methodists, several years ago. From him I learned three things:

1] PEOPLE CAN HEAR YOU, EVEN IN THE DARK. His mother was growing old and a bit out of touch. One night he took her to a get-together at the home of friends. The friends decided to show slides of their vacation. In her old age, getting one sense confused with another, his mother had decided that people could not hear what she said in the dark, so she announced quite loudly, “This is SO boring!” [I’ve always wondered if she were only claiming old age dementia as an excuse.]

2] YOU CAN’T STUDY IN NATURE. Nature overpowers, Bob said. If you go out on a pretty day and sit under a tree and try to read, you’ll end up reading the day, not the book. Especially in these days when we experience so little of nature, our souls yearn for it. If they get the chance, our souls and bodies will just take nature and forget the rest of what we think we are supposed to accomplish.

3] RATS CAN COOPERATE, SO WHY CAN’T WE? He spent a period with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, picking up dead bodies from the streets in the morning. At night, he slept on the floor with others in his group. One of the men had some hard candies, which he put on top of a metal cabinet so the rats could not get them. Bob and the others were awakened by a thumping sound at the cabinet. Sure enough, the rats were trying to get the candy. They had a system. The first rat jumped as high as it could and rammed its head into the cabinet, making a dent. The second rat used the body of the first as a springboard to leap even higher and ram its head to make a higher dent. Eventually they had a whole team of woozy rats but a whole series of increasingly higher dents that the final rat on the team could use as footholds to climb all the way to the top to get the candy and throw it down to the others.
Scientists use rats for experiments because their body systems are similar to humans. Except most humans are not willing to sacrifice their heads for the good of the group. Well, except for football players…

John Robert McFarland

I tweet as yooper1721.

They called them heroes. They said, “Thank you for your service.” Then forgot about them. Joe Kirk lost a leg. Lonnie Blifield lost his eyes. Victoria Roundtree lost her skin. “Zan” Zander lost his mind. Four homeless and hopeless Iraqistan VETS who accidentally end up living together on an old school bus. With nowhere to go, and nothing else to do, they lurch from one VAMC to another, getting no help because, like the thousands of other Iraqistan VETS who are homeless, unemployed, and suicidal, they do not trust the system and refuse to “come inside.” After another fruitless stop, at the VAMC in Iron Mountain, Michigan, a doctor is found dead, and the VETS are accused of his murder. Distrustful, strangers to America, to each other, and even to themselves, they must become a unit to learn who really murdered the doctor, so that they can be free. In doing so, they uncover far more, about themselves and about their country, than they dared even to imagine. Available from your local independent book store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BOKO, Books-A-Million, Black Opal Books, and almost any place else that sells books. $8.49 or $12.99 for paperback, according to which site you look at, and $3.99 for Kindle. Free if you can get your library to buy one.

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