It only took me a week to change my mind. For a few weeks now I had planned on scrapping this blog and going offline, keeping my writing to myself while I continued in the wilderness where God had led me in order to refresh myself and regroup. I always knew I’d emerge (and write) again, I just didn’t know when. It wasn’t my time(ing). So for months I’ve written less, read more, and listened a LOT.
Last week I announced I was shutting this space down (Finis) and was making preparations to pave the way for a new blog once I was ready to return. However, after spending more time in silent contemplation I realized that a new blog wasn’t the answer. I already had my home established here. But it needed something more than just a new coat of paint and an online facelift. It needed a homeowner who was ready to be authentically himself. I needed to have the courage to be who I am. Not just a father, a husband, a friend or a writer. I was being all of those things already. But what I was holding back was the one thing I identify myself as more than any other: a Catholic. I’m not always a good one, but I’m working at it. One way is by not being afraid to write about it or include it in my stories when it’s warranted.
And so I’ve revamped some things, redecorated a bit (and am still working on a few changes), have also placed the blog on Facebook, took a deep breath and opened wide the comment boxes.
Right now I’ve probably begun to make a few longtime friends and readers uncomfortable, and this may be the final thing they ever read from me. So be it. But while I would never ask them to be any less than who they truly are, why should I be asked to do the same?
So why am I doing this now?
I’ve watched some in the human family go out of their way to eliminate faith and morality of any kind from the public square and conversation. Those who do cite them are shouted down as rascist, anti-science, anti-reason, homophobic, xenophobic, blah blah blah. I watched breathlessly a few weeks ago as a protester in Spain got in the faces of girls praying at World Youth Day and screaming at them that he’d like to “crucify them all.” I watched images such as this:
There were more, many worse than this, but you get the idea. And you get the idea of the courage displayed by those young people in the face of such ugliness and hatred. Of course, the media ignored this.
And finally I finished reading a book that contained an excellent conversation between its protagonists on the differences in the philosophies of natural law versus nihilism, utilitarianism, and the like. In short, on the dignity of the individual versus the survival of the fittest and the “thinning of the human herd.” It is a problem that has been with us for centuries and it bubbles to the surface now and then. It exploded across the world in the 1930s and 40s. If we are not vigilant it may do so again. We cannot ignore it. As Chesterton said, “There is no new news. Just old news happening to new people.”
So what does this mean? Will there be dramatic changes here? Nope. Nothing more than my willingness to step out and write about those things that affect me. For while I’ve attempted to do that since launching this blog in June 2008, I’ve always held a part of me back. In many respects it was the largest part of me, and probably the most powerful. I did so because I didn’t want to offend. Well to hell with that. I can be an offensive guy.
But while an occasionally offensive person I’m not profane, and there is a difference. I am a man who appreciates beauty above all, and that is probably the biggest change you will encounter here. For if you stick with me and continue reading that is what I aim to bring to the table the most. The beauty that surrounds us every day and that we all too easily miss or dismiss because our focus is elsewhere. We miss a lot, you and I. But just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Dante wrote that beauty is the prime attraction of the human soul. My aim is to focus upon it more, but still be a goofball now and then, too.
At an early morning bible study at my parish this morning we were asked the following question: Where is your leadership today? This prompted me to ask myself: How am I reflecting this? What leaders have influenced me? On my way to work I thought about all the people who have influenced me in my life. There are many. I can honestly say I received something from almost each and every person I’ve ever encountered. I couldn’t begin to list them all here. And then a question came to me. Would I be on anyone’s list who was asked a similar question? It’s a very sobering thing to consider while driving to work.
In the musical Les Miserables, Jean Valjean has a similar conversation with himself where he must confront the truths about his own life and identity while an innocent man’s life hangs in the balance.
Can I conceal myself for evermore?
Pretend I’m not the man I was before?
And must my name until I die
Be no more than an alibi?
Must I lie?
How can I ever face my fellow men?
How can I ever face myself again?
My soul belongs to God, I know
I made that bargain long ago
He gave me hope when hope was gone
He gave me strength to journey on.
And so who am I? Well certainly no man’s fate lies in my hands as yet other than my own. But I am, as I state in the first line of the “About Me” page of this blog, a Catholic-husband-father-Red Sox fan 24/7/365. The fabulous video put together by Joseph Koss below says it best. I hope you stay with me and visit now and then. I’ll still be my subtly sarcastic self on occasion, but we’re also going to explore some beautiful things together.
Sept. 14 – The Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross