Saturday, November 29, 2014

Winter Hike at Holden Arboretum

Holden Arboretum looks like Upstate New York or New England today. The ponds have a skin of ice on them, and the showy berries add color to the landscape.
Winterberry along Blueberrry Pond

Blueberry Pond

Winterberry--a variety of holly

A Few Photos of Holden Arboretum's Arts and Crafts Sale

The annual Holden Arboretum Christmas arts and crafts sale is on! Beautiful, and fairly inexpensive, handmade items--jewelry, turned wooden bowls, photos, paintings, pottery, knitted and woven alpaca items, and so on. Here are a few photos:

Painted silk scarves

Fused-glass pendants


Incredible lathe-turned wooden bowls
Link to Holden's "Gifts from the Heart of Nature" site

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Theory of Gift Giving--Antidote to "Black Friday"

Today is called "Black Friday." The very name makes me nauseous. This is not a name I grew up with; it is a recent invention (that info is for the benefit of young people--the name is neither historical nor inevitable). This is the day we are supposed to spend and buy until we are broke and cross-eyed. This, we are led to believe, is part of the raison d'etre of being an American: "shop until you drop." Thankfully, many people are rejecting this perverse theology. They know that as human beings we are much more than what we buy and what presents we receive.

A teacher I had when a student at the University of Notre Dame, Sr. Franzita Kane CSC (Sister Franzita was a professor at St. Mary's College, across the road from Notre Dame), once told us her philosophy of gift giving. She had an anti-materialistic view of gifts. Gifts should be given freely, with no hope or expectation that you will get something in return. Gifts are always symbolic, and should be selected with that in mind. Gifts should not be utilitarian (at least on a primary level--as with people, a gift's purpose is not primarily for its usefulness). Gifts should be accepted gracefully and gratefully--we must allow people to give gifts, not always turn them away or pooh-pooh gift giving--it takes some humility to accept a gift.

With a philosophy like this, you probably won't be going out on "Black Friday" fighting your way through a shopping mall to buy gifts for people you love. You might be at home making something, writing a poem, sewing, knitting, cross-stitching, painting a picture, etc. You might be going to displays of handmade arts and crafts trying to pick out a simple gift that perfectly fits someone and is appropriate for your relationship with that person.

This is one reason I will write poems for a couple of friends and why I will buy a few simple handmade gifts at the Holden Arboretum Christmas craft sale. Link to Holden's Christmas Sale.

Thanks to Sr. Franzita Kane for this refreshing, even revolutionary, philosophy of gift giving.

This handmade quilt was a retirement gift for Linda from her colleagues.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blessings for Thanksgiving!

Even in this time of darkness in this country and the world, when crucifixion is as real as it was 2000 years ago, let us find time and room to offer thanks.

My Mother was my first teacher in how to give thanks. She could be described as a simple woman, one who accomplished little that the world would ever note. But she was a fine mother, wife, and grandmother. She, with my Dad, raised her brood of five children, gave us love, taught us to love, and in the end, taught us to be grateful. She touched the lives of her immediate family and her extended family. She helped her alcoholic twin brothers, Dick and Don, fed them, gave them shelter in our little house; offered hospitality to her alcoholic brother-in-law Jack, gave him food and shelter in our little house; gave friendship, companionship to our mentally ill neighbor, MZ; helped raise my brother's three boys; loved and nurtured her 17 grandchildren.

When she passed away, so peacefully back in 2003, with her entire family around her, her last words and gestures were full of gratitude. I hope I can continue to learn gratitude from her. I think it's one of the toughest virtues.

Without trying to make a comprehensive list, I want to express my deepest gratitude for my parents, my family (including cousins, aunts, uncles, and shirt-tail cousins), my sister Mary Ellen, my brothers, Denny, Kevin, and Jim, my wife Linda, my children, Julia, Carolan, and Emily (and their spouses, Eddy and Brian, and Carolan's friend Jeremy), and my two grandboys, Colin and Robby.

I want to express gratitude for my friends, especially my newer friends at the Karpos ministry for the hungry and homeless at St. Mary's Church in Painesville. They are so much fun and so dedicated. Thanks for my college friends, especially those from Notre Dame and the Innsbruck Program; for my dear friends at Lakeland; for my friends in various organizations who battle injustice so fearlessly; for my Cincinnati friends, again, so fearless. They have all taught me faith, hope, and love.

You don't have to be a priest to bless people, so . . .

Dear friends, I bless you, as you have blessed me. And I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, the deepest well of my being!

Go raibh mile maith agaibh! [Irish]

Herzlichen Dank! [German]

Grazie mille! [Italian]

Merci beaucoup! [French]

Thank You!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Police Killings in America Compared to Other Countries

With all the police shootings in America (including the terribly tragic shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy, in Cleveland this past week),
Tamir Rice, 12-year-old Killed by a Cleveland Police Officer

I have begun to wonder how we compare to the other prosperous countries of the world. Below is a report from a British magazine, The Economist. Most British police are not armed. In a single year there might not be a single police killing in all of Great Britain. In the entire country, police may pull guns only a few times.

From the Economist:

The shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is a reminder that civilians—innocent or guilty—are far more likely to be shot by police in America than in any other rich country. In 2012, according to data compiled by the FBI, 410 Americans were “justifiably” killed by police—409 with guns. That figure may well be an underestimate. Not only is it limited to the number of people who were shot while committing a crime, but also, amazingly, reporting the data is voluntary.
Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero. In 2012 the figure was just one. Even after adjusting for the smaller size of Britain’s population, British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014 the police force of one small American city, Albuquerque in New Mexico, shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period.
The explanation for this gap is simple. In Britain, guns are rare. Only specialist firearms officers carry them; and criminals rarely have access to them. The last time a British police officer was killed by a firearm on duty was in 2012, in a brutal case in Manchester. The annual number of murders by shooting is typically less than 50. Police shootings are enormously controversial. The shooting of Mark Duggan, a known gangster, which in 2011 started riots across London, led to a fiercely debated inquest. Last month, a police officer was charged with murder over a shooting in 2005. The reputation of the Metropolitan Police’s armed officers is still barely recovering from the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, in the wake of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London.
In America, by contrast, it is hardly surprising that cops resort to their weapons more frequently. In 2013, 30 cops were shot and killed—just a fraction of the 9,000 or so murders using guns that happen each year. Add to that a hyper-militarised police culture and a deep history of racial strife and you have the reason why so many civilians are shot by police officers. Unless America can either reduce its colossal gun ownership rates or fix its deep social problems, shootings of civilians by police—justified or not—seem sure to continue.

This next piece is from Business Insider:

The FBI reports that in 2011, cops in America killed 404 suspects in acts of "justifiable homicide." Astonishingly, though, as FiveThirtyEight reports, this number likely doesn't include every civilian fatality that year since it relies on voluntary reporting and doesn't include police homicides that aren't justifiable.

Still, 404 is a large number. By comparison, just six people were killed by police in Australia over the same period. Police in England and Wales killed only two people, and German police killed six.

Gun control groups see the issue as an arms race between law enforcement and civilians.

Last year, police in England did not record a single shooting fatality, with officers across the country only firing weapons on three occasions.

Cops on the street in England do not carry firearms.

In Australia, where police do carry handguns, gun control is relatively tight. Police in some states receive special training for dealing with mentally ill suspects.

There are some theories about why cops in America kill more people. Ladd Everitt from the Washington-based advocacy organization, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told Business Insider, "We see this as a product of the continuing arms race between law enforcement and civilians that has been going on for decades."

Everitt said the increasingly sophisticated weaponry being sold to U.S. civilians is forcing police to keep up, with both sides purchasing ever more powerful weapons.

The arms race means "police officers have legitimate fears about the nature of the firepower they are confronting on a daily basis," he said.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence told us they thought it would take "courageous politicians with the decency and courage to stand up to the National Rifle Association" to end the high number of deaths.

Business Insider contacted the NRA for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

Read more:

Poem in Response to the Ferguson, Missouri Shooting; Cleveland Shooting of Tamir Rice; Shooting of Trayvon Martin

O America I weep for thee!

Land of the six shooter the M-16, AR-15, the sawed off shotgun
Land where we shoot boys and teenagers if we feel at all endangered—

And of course we always feel endangered
 by the hoodie-clad black boys,
Walking down the middle of the street!

Land where racism so deep down yet so invisible to us
We can’t see what’s right before our eyes
Land where law is twisted to justify murder

O America, I weep for thee!

                [Bob Coughlin 25 November 2014]

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I remember November 22, 1963--The Murder of John F. Kennedy

I wrote this a few years ago and want to post it again on the 54th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, something that still wounds me deeply:

It would be hard for anyone outside of my age, ethnic, social, and cultural context to understand how November 22, 1963, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, is etched on my soul. There is no adequate metaphor: etched, branded, tattooed. The day, the death, the memories will always be there, always be a part of me.

I think in part it's because John Kennedy, "Jack" we liked to call him, as if he were a friend of the family, it's because he represented what we longed to be. I was from a struggling, working-class Irish-Catholic family. John Kennedy came from the same roots--the exiled Irish, streaming out of famine and post-famine Ireland, where there was massive death, disease, and starvation everywhere. And then trying to find your way in a new society. By the time I was born in 1948, we had come a long way--90 years after our immigrant great grandparents came to America's shores. We had a lot of wonderful gifts: our tight Catholic religious community, our large and loving families and extended families ( I joke that my parents and I didn't have friends--we had relatives. It is the truth!). But we also had terrible problems with alcoholism, untreated anxiety and mental illness, and we faced  plenty of prejudice. Very few people acknowledge that now, but it was the truth. Catholics, even in the 1950's and 1960s, were victims themselves of discrimination and prejudice (and we were full of that same vice towards others, I am sad to say). John F. Kennedy seemed like a vision to us, of what could be: he was more handsome, richer, better educated--yet full of his own problems, we later discovered, many far worse than our own ills and sins.

When I heard around 2:05 PM that November 22nd, that Black Friday, sitting in my religion class as St. Joseph High School in Cleveland--when Brother Stanley Matthews came over the PA system and told us, "Boys, he's been shot. The president has been shot," we were stunned beyond belief. It was as if my own Father had been shot. I remember how we prayed for the next half hour, when Brother Stanley came on again and said, "Boys, he's gone, he's dead. Pray for him, his family. Pray for yourselves and the world."

And that is what we did.

We, of that generation, knew a lot of terrible deaths, and we took them personally. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy. And then the Vietnam War, and cousins, classmates, friends getting killed: Tommy Fitzpatrick, Buddy Chasser, Steve Shields.

So I am marked by this day. I know my cousin Maggie Brock is also deeply marked. As are so many in my family, among my friends, in my generation.

Five years after John F. Kennedy's assassination, Brian Wilson and I were traveling in Greece during our spring break (we were Notre Dame students studying abroad in Austria). It was the day after Martin Luther King Jr. had been murdered. Brian and I were invited into a modest home near Matala, Crete. The man of the house wanted to show us his bouzouki and tell us of relatives in America. On the wall of his home were two pictures: Pope John XXIII, and John F. Kennedy.


 Pope John would not have been his religious leader, for this man was Greek Orthodox. And JFK would not have been his president. But there it was--two heroes. Yes, we know JFK's clay feet, we know his catalogue of sins and faults. But I was inspired by him to try to make the world a better place. And his assassination on this day 51 years ago is etched indelibly into my heart.

Postscript: Pat Denny, a friend of mine, read this blog entry and sent me some of her own reflections on that fateful day. Pat was a freshman at Regina High School in South Euclid on November 22, 1963. Here is what she wrote me--I appreciate it so much!

"We were in an assembly.  Principal (Sr. Mary Marthe) interrupted the program when the news was first announced.  The program resumed, and later she returned and ended the program when the news of his dying came in.  All our buses came earlier than usual, as I'm recalling.  We all prayed the rosary all the way home from Regina to 260th bus stop in Euclid.  Overwhelming sadness and grief punctuated that entire weekend, and for many days after as we followed the TV coverage.  We were at such an impressionable age when it happened. Our hearts still ache when we recall it all."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Petitions (Prayer of the Faithful) for Sunday, November 23, 2014

Prayer of the Faithful for Sunday, November 23rd, 2014. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe


Celebrant: As we celebrate our merciful Lord, Jesus Christ, who gathers the lost sheep to Himself, let us, dear sisters and brothers, approach the one God to voice all our needs.
·         Help us to be like the Good Shepherd, portrayed in today’s readings. We pray to the Lord.

·         Help St. Mary’s always respond to the wishes of Jesus:

For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
. We pray to the Lord.

·         Let us not forget that we were once the “least brethren” of Matthew’s Gospel. We pray to the Lord.

·         That all may have food and shelter and human companionship on Thanksgiving and throughout the year. We pray to the Lord.

·         That we as a people might raise our voices in a sincere chorus of thanksgiving to the one God. We pray to the Lord.

·         and for those for whom this mass is offered [name them]. We pray to the Lord.

Let us pause now and silently offer to the Father our own particular intentions [...allow for silence...]. We pray to the Lord.

Celebrant: Father, we have hope that you will be moved to hear and respond to our sincere prayers, for they are asked in the name of your generous Son, the King of the Universe, and in the power of your Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.#

Every Sunday, for the past six months, I have had the great privilege of composing the Sunday petitions, the Prayer of the Faithful, for our local Church. At first I found the task very difficult and time-consuming. I have now developed a system, an approach, to this task, and have settled into the job. I have really been enjoying it and have learned to appreciate the beautiful (usually beautiful) readings that have been selected for our Sunday masses. This week, the readings are outstanding:

Readings for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: EZ 34: 11-12, 15-17; PS 23: 1-3, 5-6; I COR 15: 20-26, 28; MT 25: 31-46.

In his most recent blog posting, Mike Rivage-Seul comments on these readings, and calls this week's gospel "absolutely transcendent." Click here for Mike's blog.

Here is that gospel, Matthew 25: 31-46. These words are at the center of my own Christianity:

Gospel MT 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,

'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. 
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say,

'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink? 
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you? 
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

[Post Script: Here's something odd. My focus was so much on the bolded passages in the above gospel that I pretty much ignored the disturbing passages in Matthew's gospel! How are these to be explained?]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Poem: "The Prophet"

The Prophet

(Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice. . .Matthew 5:6)

Sometimes the rage, anger, unresolved mourning under the skin
erupt in sudden violent spasms--
surprising yourself and the people who love you.

Often it is just anger and you feel like Jeremiah
with a truth to tell--one you cannot but yell out
to the world.

Speak your piece, o friend,
share the vision,
whether it be terrible,

     or beautiful--

Your job is to tell the truth!

[Bob Coughlin November 19, 2014]

As I composed this poem, I was thinking about prophetic people I have known or encountered over my lifetime. Some achieved a degree of fame (or notoriety), like Maurice McCrackin, Marion Bromley, Ernest Bromley, Daniel Berrigan, Dorothy Day, Chuck Matthei, Mike Rivage-Seul. But most are known only to a few people (these names I will keep in my heart). During the Vietnam protest era, the government thought many of the protesters to be mentally ill. Ha! Who's mentally ill??

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Author John Grisham Takes on Strip Mining and Mountain Top Removal

The #1 best seller on the New York Times fiction list is Gray Mountain, by John Grisham.

John Grisham

It is amazing when an author of Grisham's power and popularity takes on environmental and political issues like strip mining and mountaintop removal. Grisham's novel is connected to my family in a way. When doing his research for the book, he interviewed lawyers in the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center in Whitesburg, Kentucky. My brother-in-law, Steve Sanders, is the founder and executive director of this nonprofit, the goal of which is "Fighting for Justice in the Coalfields."

Steve has been involved on this work since graduating from Vanderbilt Law School in 1978. He has worked often alongside Tony Oppegard, another hero in the fight for justice in the coalfields.

Strip mining and mountaintop removal, black lung disease, widespread damage to the environment and to the health of people in the coalfields. It is hard to imagine that coal has defenders who defend the indefensible--people like Senator Mitch McConnell and mine owner Robert Murray!

I will write more about this novel as I get deeper into the reading.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blacktail Mountain, near Flathead Lake, Montana. Montana Conservation Corps Training

My daughter Carolan sent me some beautiful photos from the Blacktail Mountain area, which is just west of the community of Lakeside, Montana (on the great Flathead Lake). Recently Carolan was up on this mountain doing training for crew leaders for the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC).
Looking east toward Flathead Lake. The Swan Range in the background.
Flathead Lake is enormous, one of the largest lakes in America west of the Mississippi River. It's about 27 miles long, 15 miles wide, with an average depth of 165 feet. The spectacular Mission and Swan ranges are on the east of the lake and the Salish Mountains to the west. The lake moderates the weather and allows for cherry orchards, especially on the east side of the lake. The lake was once called "Salish Lake," after the Salish Indians (also called the Flathead Indians). Flathead Lake is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

A glimpse of Flathead Lake, with the Swan Range in the background.

Up on  Blacktail Mountain.

There is a small ski area on Blacktail Mountain and a much larger ski resort 36 miles north on Big Mountain, just outside of Whitefish, Montana (that's where Carolan lives). On a clear day you can see the mountains of Glacier National Park and the peaks of Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. My daughter Carolan gets to live here!

Walt Whitman and St. Paul Agree on Something: Sanctity of the Human Body

Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? . . .

for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

This is from one of our readings at mass on November 9, 2014. St. Paul, 1 Corinthians, verses 16-17 (with some editing by me--St. Paul can often stand some editing)

The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred,
No matter who it is, it is sacred . . . [Walt Whitman, "I Sing the Body Electric"]

Here is Part 9 of Whitman's great poem:

O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women, nor the likes of the parts of you,
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the soul, (and that they are the soul,)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and that they are my poems,
Man’s, woman’s, child’s, youth’s, wife’s, husband’s, mother’s, father’s, young man’s, young woman’s poems,
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger, finger-joints, finger-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any one’s body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul! #

Walt Whitman truly believed that the human body is the Temple of God. There doesn't seem to be any ambivalence in him. He sings the body in most all his poems.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Snowmageddon in Painesville and Mentor. Impact on the Homeless

Yesterday parts of Mentor and Painesville, Ohio had a tremendous lake-effect snowfall. About 14 inches fell in Northeast Mentor, Painesville, and surrounding areas within a few hours. The result was absolute paralysis in these snowbelt communities that normally shrug off the snow. Painesville was in total gridlock. I know this firsthand because I, and many of my friends, were trying to get to St. Mary's Church in Painesville, where we feed the homeless and hungry every Wednesday and Thursday. We typically serve about 150 meals (and the range can be 100 to 200) each day. There are lots of homeless and hungry people in Painesville, the county seat of prosperous Lake County, Ohio.

I left Lakeland College, on the Kirtland-Mentor border, around 2:30 PM for the 12 mile trip to Painesville. I arrived there at 5:20--almost three hours later. I was almost crazy at that point. My car was running out of gas; my phone battery was drained; and I had to go the bathroom very very bad. All my companions in the Karpos Ministry to the Homeless were in the same situation. Kathy Flora was driving in from Geauga County, and was stopped by a stalled train. Kathy Philipps was stuck in her commute from John Carroll University, where she teaches theology (and this was important, because Kathy is the program director, and has the keys to the pantry). Ken Fitzsimmons and Krista Zivkovich had shorter commutes, but even a short commute took forever. Pam, Cheryl Rice, and Brian Rice made it in from Painesville Township--not many miles away, but a very difficult drive yesterday.

Somehow the crew cobbled together the meal without access to the food pantry. About 50 of the homeless and hungry were able to get to the Fr. Hanzo Center for the meal. They were all very grateful, in good spirits despite the difficult day. The food preparers and servers, my beloved friends, were also in good spirits. Each had a hilarious story to tell about the trip to St. Mary's. There was a wonderful sense of community last evening--we all felt so blessed to be there.

Linda did not come to the Karpos meal last night--she was watching our grandchildren in Mentor. But she did go to the Project Hope shelter for the homeless in Painesville later that evening and worked until around 10:45 PM. Linda told me that many of these homeless were tired and discouraged. It was a very tough day to be homeless, to make your way through over a foot of snow. But thank God the shelter was there for them!

Below are some photos taken in Mentor, at my daughter's house, and in Chardon/Hambden. I tried to take a couple pics in Painesville--but my phone had run out of juice.

Colin, shoveling snow in Mentor

Hambden Township

Chardon, Ohio

Cleveland Pear trees outside our window in Hambden Township

Colin--Mentor, Ohio

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Amazing One-Woman Play on Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker

A couple weeks ago, at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, I saw an incredible one-woman play on the life of Dorothy Day. Dorothy Day was the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement (co-founder, with Peter Maurin, Dorothy always said). I have been interested in the Catholic Worker since the early 1970s and met Dorothy Day many times. I ate dinners with her (along with maybe 30 other people), went to Vespers with her, and briefly talked with her over dinner. Some of my old friends, in particular Peggy Scherer, Terri Antholzner, and Pat Rusk, were very close friends of Dorothy Day. Dorothy even paid my phone bill one time when I was living in Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati. She paid it because her friend Pat Rusk had run up an enormous long-distance bill on my phone and Pat asked Dorothy to pay it. Some day Dorothy Day may be canonized an official saint, and that is about as close as I am going to come to knowing an official saint (I have known many unofficial saints!).
Dorothy Day at age 70 [credit Milwaukee Journal]
I first met Dorothy when she was about 77 years old. Even then you could sense her charisma and even her great physical beauty. I have always thought that some of the people that followed her in the Catholic Worker movement were attracted by her physical beauty as well as her ideas, her energy, her religious and political commitments.

The one-woman play I saw, "Haunted by God, was put on by  Still Point Theatre, and the actor was Lisa Wagner-Carollo. She portrayed Dorothy Day from age 20 to her death at 83 (November 29, 1980), and she did it with very minor changes in wardrobe, hair, and body position. It was brilliant acting!

This one-act play reminded me of the power of theatre to move and change people. The 200 people who saw this play will never be the same!

Postscript: I lived at the Catholic Worker house in Davenport, Iowa, in the summer of 1976. Margaret Quigley Garvey was the founder and leader of that house. She and her husband Mike Garvey have published books on Dorothy and the Catholic Worker. That summer has influenced my entire adult life.

Currently I work at a meal for the hungry and homeless at St. Mary church in Painesville, Ohio. The program, called the Karpos Ministry, was established five years ago by Kathy Philipps and a seminarian friend of hers. Hard to say home many people help put on these meals twice a week (serving up to 200 meals per night). The regular helpers number about 20, with another 10-15 coming occasionally.

The Spirit of the Catholic Worker and its mission to live out the Works of Mercy is alive and well!#

From Still Point Theatre's Website:

Lisa Wagner-Carollo

Lisa Wagner-Carollo - Founding/Artistic Director 

Lisa Wagner-Carollo is the Founding Director of Still Point Theatre Collective. She founded the company in 1993, motivated by a strong desire to combine ministry and theatre. Ever since, she has toured the country and overseas with Haunted by God: The Life of Dorothy Day. Among other productions, Wagner has also performed in and produced (for Still Point), the internationally toured Points of Arrival: A Jean Donovan Journey, a play that explores the life and commitment of one of the four North American church women killed in El Salvador in 1980. She is currently touring the United States and overseas with Strong Women, Haunted by God and Deep Listening (death and dying). Lisa also works as a facilitator in Still Point's outreach programs. Her education includes a B.S.E. from Emporia State University. Recently, she completed her certification as a spiritual director at Siena Center in Racine, Wisconsin and has recently begun a spiritual direction practice in the Chicago area. 

Awards: Outstanding Recent Graduate, Emporia State University, 1997 

Seeds of Hope Award, Wheatridge, 2009.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Poem for the Last Sunny and Warm Day of the Year

Last Warm and Sunny Day of the Year

And I spend it in this park with you
Ambling slowly, hardly speaking, hand in hand,
Or arm in arm, with you—

The world’s troubles, yes we know them,
Engage them most days, with the “stubborn ounces
Of our weight.” But not this afternoon.

We, you and me, in the sunlight, through the naked trees,
Rustle through the leaf litter, let the sun fall
On our eyes and arms, and

(leaving the coming cold and danger for another day)—
Bask in the warmth of mid-November sun
And the glow of this love we have, smoldering

Deep in our hearts and bones.

                                                            Bob Coughlin / 11 November 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Margaret Ann--Born 91 Years Ago Today

All Souls Cemetery, Chardon
My mother, Margaret Ann, was born in Cleveland on November 10, 1923. She was born to Jack FitzPatrick and Margaret Ann Sullivan, the youngest of six kids. I believe her first home was in the Euclid Beach area, either on Grovewood Avenue or E. 169th Street. Later the family  moved to Tarrymore Road, right off Neff, a stone's throw from Lake Erie. My Mom was baptized at St. Jerome's and attended school at Holy Cross in Euclid. Later, she attended Villa Angela Academy, where she was apparently kicked out of school. Then briefly to Collinwood High School and then Notre Dame Academy, on Ansel Road in Cleveland. Mom loved the Notre Dame nuns.

Mom had a sister named Julia (called "Dudie" because the kids couldn't pronounce "Julia"). She was considerably older, but ended up my Mom's best friend. She had wonderful brothers, Al, Fenton (Skip), and the twins, Dick and Don. They took good care of her because her mother died young and was sick for years before her death in 1940; and her father was very busy with his work at New York Central Railroad. And I believe he was a binge drinker. I don't think he was very involved in my Mom's life. In a strange way, Mom was a kind of orphan, raised more by siblings and relatives than parents. Somehow, she got a lot of wonderful things from these people, because she became a sweet, funny, warm person, who created a good family. We (and that includes people way outside the immediate family) are still experiencing the ripples of her goodness.

Mom married my Dad, Robert P. Coughlin, in 1947. I was born ten months later. Two years later came Denny; then in 1953, Mary Ellen; then Kevin, and finally Jim. Five children, seventeen grandchildren, and many great grandchildren.

I still deeply love my Mom. Miss her. Carry her goodness with me always.
Dad and Mom, August 1947, Willoughby, Ohio
Part of Mom's Brood (with 2 neighbor kids). I am in front. 1959?
Mom, with Susie Brock. Circa 1957.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Howl at the Moon! Protect Geauga Parks!

Not long ago Judge Tim Grendell told folks from Protect Geauga Parks that they might as well "howl at the moon like a bunch of coyotes"--they weren't going to stop his unraveling of the Geauga Park system. Well this afternoon, the people fighting to "Preserve Conserve and Protect" the Geauga Parks did just that, held a Howl-at-the-Moon event at the Kent State-Burton campus in Burton, Ohio.

Over 100 men, women, and children attended this event, one that included old-timey banjo, fiddle, and guitar music (Gordon Keller on fiddle, his wife Louise on guitar, and Rachel McKinney on banjo). John Augustine showed video and did a narration on local otters (John is extraordinarily knowledgeable about the natural world, and a staunch defender of the Geauga Parks); Ed Buckles and Kathy Hanratty gave speeches; and five children participated in a howl-at-the-moon contest (one did it in her father's arms).

So many extraordinary people were present, including Debbi Mayo, Kathleen O'Neill Webb, Debbie Eger, Kathy Hanratty, Barb Partington and her husband Dave, Sandra Buckles and her husband Ed, John Augustine, Todd and Mary Ray, Kathy Flora, Dave and Pat Dardis, Gayle and Jim Wohlken, Professor Steve Vieira, Catherine and Elbert Whitright, Linda Coughlin, Jim Mueller, and so many more. It was a fun event, with many people wearing their "Protect Geauga Parks" shirts. Beautiful photographic banners were hung on the walls, and "Protect Geauga Parks" signs were everywhere. People socialized and made plans--mixed business with fun. Click here to see Protect Geauga Park's website.

We ain't going away, Judge Grendell. We will continue to fight for the park system. We will not let it be destroyed.

Howl-at-the Moon Contest

Another Howler

Kathy Hanratty

Ed Buckles

Some of the crowd

Jim Wohlken, dressed as a coyote, with Ed Buckles and Kathy Hanratty

Beautiful old-timey music: Rachel McKinney, Louise and Gordon Keller

A couple of the extraordinary banners hung around the room

Debbi Mayo and Kathleen O'Neill Webb

A coyote sitting by the microphone