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A Brother’s Farewell

November 10, 2016 — 1 Comment

The plan is to have a Celebration of Life event for Matthew. Since I’m far away, the extended family is point for the arrangements. Hopefully, they do what’s right and respect the wishes of the entire family. Anything short of that dishonors Matt – as a former Marine, honor is fundamental to my worldview.  But I have to say I’m not encouraged by their efforts. So, as I’m sitting here, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to eulogize my brother, at least in the traditional sense.

matt

But I’m writing one anyway … warming up in the bullpen just in case I’m called in to deliver. If not, at least it will be out in the cosmos.

You see, there’s nothing else I can do for Matt other than share memories for those that loved him – or would have had they met him. In the scheme of my life, it is a very important job and I want to do it.

As I begin this, it’s been two weeks exactly since that dreadful bike ride in Ojai. The healing process has sputtered along, but I’ve been startled by those quiet and alone moments in my otherwise busy days. Matt crashes through the normalcy, I see his face, grief pours over me as if from a cloudburst, and I cry. And then the sorrow quickly retreats as though my subconscious – or God’s grace – yanks it back to spare me the pain. I’m left with red swollen eyes as a searing reminder that my brother is gone.

I remember 1991 when our mother died. The Steele boys managed to get through that first week dealing with her affairs, concerned friends and the logistics of death. We laughed, reminisced, cried, took pills, drank beer and playfully split up her treasures – not the material stuff like lamps and couches, but the cherished things in her life; family pictures, letters from Dad, her sons’ baby shoes and report cards, her silly tools, her favorite ice breaker. In fairness, the pill popping, beer drinking and wailing like a newborn may have been all me but those seven days were an absolute blur.

The brothers didn’t argue that week, but we might have been tempted when it came to the expense for Mom’s funeral. We were sitting around a conference table, the typecast funeral director mumbling something quasi consoling, he looked like Lurch, and he placed the invoice on the table. As an aside, for you young mortuary entrepreneurs, hire grief counselors that look like Hooters waitresses; you’ll have bodies stacked like books in the prep room as the bereaved jockey for facetime.  Continue Reading…

Radical Surrender

August 11, 2013 — 3 Comments

Yep, I’m guilty of staring into space. Why? Because I spend a lot of time wandering around the maze of my mind picking up relics of memories.

CumulusI blow the dust off, feel their weight in my hands and try to imagine the emotions, smells and circumstances that might have accompanied their placement in my archives. In many cases, it can be quite fun–this daydreaming.

My God, those moments playing hide and seek at 25,000 feet in the billows of cumulus were other worldly. But then, under a stack of pleasantness, I occasionally find recollections that are just plain bad. Truly awful. And I’m reminded of how trying life can be.

It really is a test.

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The Puppet Strings of Satan. It’s here.

My Papal Prediction

March 10, 2013 — 2 Comments

Ah, that moment when the new Pope walks out on the balcony–Habemus Papam (“We have a Pope”) still echoing in the Roman hills. Looking out on all those expectant faces, what will he be thinking? Or feeling?

Papal RingWill he have already decided on his second act as Pontiff (the first being his name)? Will he want nothing more than chapel time to pray? Will he want to huddle with confidants? Will he even have any in Rome? Or will he crave solitude?

His exterior might be serene. But inside? I remember landing aboard an aircraft carrier, very calm, in control. But I was pure adrenaline. I could have dunked a basketball with two hands. The same with our new Pope?

If I look outside the Vatican gates however, over the heads of the exuberant believers, my pondering stops. What I see is definitive. Indisputable. As in previous centuries, there are forces aligned outside the gates who want to destroy the Catholic Church. But now they seem larger, more threatening, diabolical.

In the center of a phalanx formation–the battering rams painted black–you can see secularism, relativism and atheism. Righteous in their belief that their time has come, they’re intent on killing all and taking no prisoners.

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Inviting Mini-Martyrdom

March 7, 2013 — 2 Comments

For those of you who are frequent readers of my blog, you’re somewhat familiar with my journey from atheist to Catholic. For new readers, I entered the Church in 2001 but it was the last four years of extraordinary trial that cemented my faith in God.

St.-Peter-2-230x150In my last post, I wrote about a possible job. I’m still in discussions with the CEO but it’s proving to be a very positive experience. He’s very keen on identifying folks who will fit in with the culture, who are great (not good) team players and who have exceptional skills and character. Amid a thorough process, I’ve also had to succinctly articulate lessons learned from crawling along my road to perdition.

Because of this reflective assignment, I’ve sensed an obligation to identify myself as a Christian. In today’s increasingly secular world, by taking this tact you’re never quite sure how you’re going to be received. It could be a big mistake. Was I inviting mini-martyrdom?

Let me share some of my correspondence with the CEO.

I was asked specifically about life after my crash and burn in 2009 which was financial, spiritual and physical.

I worked occasionally as a substitute teacher, worked in a coal yard and wrote a book. I learned that my mistakes over the last few years weren’t monumental and that I was also tripped by events. Like the prodigal son who goes away and foolishly spends his inheritance, he’s then hit with a famine. I went to Durango and spent my money and then the great recession erased my new job opportunities. So I had to scramble just to eat.

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My Life On The Cusp

March 1, 2013 — 4 Comments

The past week has been very revealing. It reminded me of how busy I used to be. For the last three days I’ve been knee-deep in interviews for a new job. It went very well and I’m excited about the opportunity. But I could hardly keep up with the news regarding B16.

And this is most likely going to be emblematic of my life going forward. I will be absorbed by the necessity of engaging in a productive life leveraging the gifts that God has given me. But I will also have to doggedly keep my heart’s compass pointed towards Him so that I walk sure-footedly. Most of the planet has this same challenge. But how many pull it off?

I plan to. I’m committed to this duality and I sense that this new scenario is absolutely God’s will. We’ll see.

Driving home–six long hours–my thoughts ricocheted about like a ball in a squash game. It was a chance to let my brain maneuver between the multifaceted walls of what I believe to be a balanced existence–the human and the divine. Let me share a few random reflections.

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I’ve learned that Catholic faith is a gift from God, a pure package of divine relationship that can be eternal or momentary depending on the choices my free will makes. I’m aware that my intellect, another gift from God, is to be exercised in deepening my faith, and my level of religious knowledge, although growing, is light years removed from the scholars and thinkers who inspired me in my conversion. And here’s what I know instinctively. If my faith goes south or at least, vacations a bit too much, I should expect the road of life would be bumpier. Not so much that problems are multiplied but my handling of those problems is handicapped.

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In all my hours flying alone in the heavens as a Marine Corps fighter pilot, I never saw a UFO. I wish I had. If I had encountered one, with my cool, dispassionate, test-pilot perspective, I could have convinced the naysayer.

Miraculous-Crucifix-LimpiasIn all my days as a calculating business executive in the world of finance, I never saw a ghost. I wish I had. My mother said she did but I never believed her. If I could have shared her experience, if they indeed float among us, my analytical, suffer-no-fools mentality could have prevailed upon the skeptical.

In my relatively short life as a Catholic in love with Christ and the Church, I’ve never experienced a mystical event. I wish I had and I pray that I do. Those moments must be a strange combination of faith-affirmation and confusion. I crave such a moment because I have such a difficult time reading and believing the accounts of others who have been so blessed–and I would love to share such a revelation with the world. UFOs and ghosts are one thing. But God?

It’s not like I was born in Missouri but still …

My crucifix is a prized possession. I always wear it­­—to go through a day without it seems inconceivable. So when I heard about The Miraculous Crucifix of Limpias, I decided to do some research.

What a mind-blowing journey–I’d like to share some of the discovery. I first have to thank Glenn Dallaire and his website Miracles of the Church for the following information which I have liberally copied. There’s more documentation on his site and other exciting observations as well.

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Red Shoes And A Toolbox

February 17, 2013 — 1 Comment

When John talked about his unworthiness in untying Jesus’ sandals, that same analogy is appropriate as I contemplate the contributions of Pope Benedict XVI during his extraordinary life.

Papal Red ShoesPapa, I’m not worthy to even shine your red Papal shoes.

I say this in part as I read some of the criticism that has been leveled his way. Tough audience. It makes me wonder what he should have done–in their minds–to earn passing marks. Let me go out on a three-inch limb. If more people dedicated their lives to pursuits similar to those of Joseph Ratzinger, the world would be less dark, more loving and more open to the embrace of God.

May God bless this humble, soon-to-be former Pope in his life of prayer and inspire him to continue his charism as teacher nonpareil.

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One hundred and seventeen men will soon enter the Sistine Chapel and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the College of Cardinals will elect the 266th Pope.

On day one, 117 men will be flawed (not impeccable but capable of sin) and fallible (liable to err). On the day of election and assent by the chosen Cardinal, 117 men will remain flawed and fallible except for one huge proviso. The new Pope, because of his office, is now infallible on matters of morals and faith (as is the body of bishops as a whole when in doctrinal unity with the Pope). I find this fascinating, I accept it on faith but can understand the misunderstanding, disbelief and even hostility by those outside the Church on this doctrine.

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