Friday, November 28, 2008

Listen Up

StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization that honors and celebrates lives through listening, has declared today as the first National Day of Listening. Here is their press release:
StoryCorps is declaring November 28, 2008 the first annual National Day of Listening.
This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.
It made me think about how many times some people want to tell you their story but we are thinking about what we need to do or where we need to be and are only half way listening. How many interesting stories do we miss? How much of our own personal history do we not know?
I know I wish I would have listened more. When I was younger and when I was raising my sons I was to busy and distracted to listen to my parents and relatives. Now that I'm older and would love to hear these stories, my parents are deceased and I'm an only child. I still have cousins to share stories about general family history but no siblings to share and remember more of my personal history.
During this busy season and beyond, let us try to listen more, really listen, to relatives, people at church, neighbors and others that we see on a regular basis. Maybe we will learn something really interesting and maybe we will make someone feel special.
Both sound great to me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving

This is a prayer from the Diocese of Cleveland newsletter. It is taken from a memo from the Akron Area Interfaith Council:

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

O Creator and God of All,
We give thanks for all that we have.

For our food, we give thanks.
Help us to remember those who are hungry.
Instill in us the goal to feed all of your people.

For our friends, we give thanks.
Help us to remember those who are alone.
Instill in us the care to bring others into our circle.

For our job, we give thanks.
Help us to remember the jobless.
Instill in us the resources to find jobs for all.

For our health, we give thanks.
Help us to care for those with health needs.
Instill in us the focus to provide all with needed healthcare.

For the beauty of nature, we give thanks.
Help us to remember that we are stewards of creation.
Instill in us the wisdom and will to care for our planet.

When we sit to rest and think that all is well, stir us up to know
that your work is not done. Instill in us the heart to love all
as we serve all. Amen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Day

At the high school where I teach the seniors participate in"Turkey Day" every year on the tuesday before Thanksgiving. We start out at a Thanksgiving prayer service that includes the entire school. At the end of the service the student body extends their hands towards the seniors for a blessing before they leave for the day. They are headed for a day of community service at various programs in Lake and Geauga counties. Their time and talents are used ministering at hospice, food banks, homeless shelters, childcare centers, outdoor parks and catholic elementary schools.
This culminates almost three and one half years of emphasizing the Catholic practice of service to the community and each other. During freshman, sophomore and junior years the students do numerous hours of service as part of their religion studies. The hope is that they will continue serving others after they graduate from high school and many do just that.
It's amazing and heartening to see some students who are not the most responsible or conscientious in an academic setting, come to life when they are interacting with young children, the elderly or the homeless. To see the caring and compassion that you don't always see in the short time you are with them during the school day is very moving.
At the end of the day the seniors come back to school to share a meal together and reflect on their day. Since they are at approximately 18 different locations many stories are shared. The realization of the many blessings that they have is a great lesson learned by all.
When we so often hear a multitude of complaints against teenagers, it's important to remember to appreciate the many ways they share their gifts.
Lord, I am thankful for all our students. Please protect and guide them. Amen.