Archive for January, 2011
Today was the feast day of Saint John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian Society.
John Bosco, was an Italian Catholic priest, educator and writer of the 19th century, who put into practice the convictions of his religion, dedicating his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth and employing teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method that is known as the preventive system. A follower of the spirituality and philosophy of Francis de Sales, Bosco dedicated his works to him when he founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (more commonly known as the Salesian Society or the Salesians of Don Bosco).
John Bosco opened a home for troubled boys and taught them different trades so they could get jobs. An attitude of love, rather than harsh discipline, as well as prayer and religious instruction helped the boys want to lead good lives. John Bosco is the patron Saint of boys, educators, and youth.
One year ago today, we saw the Ivory Gull for the first time. A lot has happened to our family over the course of the past year, both good and bad.
We had the opportunity to view hundreds of birds in their own habitat, not just our own backyard, and we were fortunate enough to meet many great people in the birding community along the way. We lost our house due to the mishap with the mortgage company, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying all of the beauty and mystery in the world around us.
Our family views the day we first saw the Ivory Gull as a milestone in our lives. Just as that wayward gull drifted on the winds from the Arctic Circle, we, as a family, were just drifting through life ready to land wherever the wind dropped us.
Since that day we’ve landed in a much better spot and although our visiting angel from way up north has long since passed, we think about that bird on a daily basis. We will be forever thankful that the Ivory Gull, and the blessings we have received since the day we first saw it.
I have no doubt that everything happens for a reason, our experiences today are no exception.
This afternoon we ventured down to West Point Lake to try and locate a Black-Legged Kittiwake that was reported two days ago. It’s funny, because we ventured down to see the Ivory Gull two days after it was first reported as well.
When we arrived at the dam, I realized we had arrived at nearly the same time we first arrived to see the Ivory Gull. Talk about a flood of memories. I never thought we would be there, in that same place, exactly one year to the minute looking for another rare / accidental bird from the gull family!
As we pulled up, we saw Lorna West from Alabama, who was gracious in pointing out two White Winged Scoters that were quite close to the shoreline.
We ventured onto the dam (which is closed for renovation or some other kind of work) on foot to see if we could locate the Black-Legged Kittiwake.
I thought I had spotted it near the boom a couple times, but I couldn’t get a clear view of the bird in question and it took flight with a bunch of Ring Billed Gulls before I could confirm it. When the gulls took flight, I lost it in the crowd. We kept watching for a few minutes, then decided to check out the area below the dam to see if it had landed on the back side of the dam.
We came up empty with our search so we decided to check the boom area again, this time from the parking lot on the east side of the dam.
I started setting up my scope and before I could pull the lens cap off, our oldest son Josh spotted the bird. It was flying directly overhead and was gone again before I could grab my camera.
We kept watch for a while, keeping an eye on the birds in the air rather than those in the water. It turns out, we did the right thing, because just moments later the Black-Legged Kittiwake flew directly towards us, coming from the west side of the dam.
It flew in, circled a few times, made a quick dive to the water, and then flew off down river.
We saw it again one more time as the sun was getting lower in the sky, and after a few more looks we decided to head home.
As we made the trek home, I couldn’t help but remember the events from a year ago, all of the birds we’ve seen since then, and most of all, the many wonderful people we’ve met since that cold January day when we decided to look for a visiting angel from way up north.
What a year it has been!
Tonight was Scripture Study night.
We read Chapter 15 of St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. A lot of people showed up tonight and the discussion was very interesting, although a bit rushed so we all didn’t get stuck in the parking lot when the youth group let out.
As good as the night was, my morning and afternoon were much, much better. I discovered a new song from Josh Wilson that just blew me away. The music, the message, all of it. It just blew me away.
I don’t want to say another empty prayer.
Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else,
To do what God has called me to do myself.
I could choose not to move,
But I refuse!
Here’s the video.
I don’t know why I am constantly amazed at the messages God seems to send to me right when I need them. He does it all the time, you’d think I would be used to it by now.
I refuse to turn my back and try and act like all is well.
I refuse to stay unchanged, to wait another day to die to myself.
I refuse to make one more excuse.
I am taking today to contemplate and meditate. I’ll be back tomorrow, but for now, enjoy “Prayer Kitty”.
It’s amazing how things come together with the utterance of but a few words.
Before Mass yesterday, a friend of ours mentioned she was going to be meeting with someone to give them assistance through the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She asked if we were interested in helping her so we could see first-hand what SVdP does. Being new to the whole process we eagerly accepted her invitation.
When I attended Ozanam Orientation for the St. Vincent de Paul Society on Saturday I wondered how I would feel when I met someone face to face that was so desperately in need. I wondered if they would seem cold and unappreciative, and I wondered if I would seem distant and uncaring.
I had no idea what to expect.
I have heard it before, and you may have too, but St. Vincent de Paul said, “The poor are your masters, you will see the face of Christ in the poor.”
I’ve often wondered what that truly meant. Until tonight, I thought I knew.
Matthew 25: 34-40 says,
Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:
Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
Tonight, I knew we were going to meet with someone in need. I knew we were going to be talking to someone desperate for assistance. I knew we were going to be face to face with someone who simply wanted their children to know they would have food to eat.
I think I was more nervous pulling up to that door than they were answering it. When we arrived, I said a silent prayer.
It wasn’t much, but He knew exactly what I needed.
As their door opened, I could feel the hunger in their bellies. As they greeted us, I could hear the desperation in their souls. As we carried groceries into their home, I could sense the appreciation in their hearts. But most importantly, as we placed the food on their table, I could see the face of Christ in all of their faces.
As we stood in their living room and they told us their story, I realized how truly blessed we were. I realized that by serving these people who were suffering, we were serving our Lord Jesus Christ. By standing with this family, listening to their situation, showing them compassion and giving them hope, they were no longer alone. For a moment (that may last a lifetime) they were no longer desperate, they were no longer hungry, they were no longer thirsting.
We made them aware of additional resources, we gave them a list of agencies, and we prayed with them, but most all, we listened. Did you know, when you listen close enough you can feel the breath of God in every person you meet? I know, I felt it tonight.
He strengthened my faith, my heart, and my desire to know Him better. What a blessing that was. It’s amazing how things come together with the utterance of but a few words.
Lord, thank you.
As I mentioned at the end of my previous post, I was up and out the door quite early today to attend Ozanam Orientation for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
My wife and I have been interested in volunteering to help others in our community so we attended our first meeting of our conference earlier this week and it just so happens that their initial orientation class was held today.
I found the class to be quite interesting, as I learned the history of the society along with a broad overview of each of the services offered by the society.
Members of the Society of St.Vincent de Paul (or “Vincentians” ) are men and women who strive to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to individuals in need.
We are young and old. Our members come in every shade of skin color. Some of us are wealthy, some are financially poor, but all of us are blessed with an awareness that our blessings (time, talent or treasure) are to be shared with our brothers and sisters in need.
We know that we are not alone. We are part of an international society of friends united by a spirit of poverty, humility, and sharing, which is nourished by prayer and reflection, mutually supportive gatherings, and adherence to a basic Rule.
I found the entire day to be rewarding, because I really had no idea of the scope of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
By the time I got home from the class, it was time to head out the door for Mass. After Mass, we attended the Chili cook-off and well, to put it mildly, I am tired. It was a long day full of information, prayer, fun, and food! I wouldn’t have it any other way.