trump…and the pope

What do these men have in common? Not much it would seem.

Trump is about Trump. Pope Francis is about others.

Trump lives like a king, isolated in his own tower. Pope Francis lives in apartment #201 at the Vatican Hotel…so he can be closer to the people.

Trump seeks the presidency so he can, as he tells it…single-handedly return America to its glory days. Pope Francis agreed to forgo retirement so that he could shepherd world citizens to do what we can for the less fortunate among us.

Perhaps the Pope’s message of inclusion will resonate with those seeking the presidency. We can only pray that those who call themselves Christians, are, in fact, Christ-like.

The Pope’s words spoken during the homily at the Mass canonizing Junipero Sera to sainthood…

Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again, rejoice! These are striking words, words which impact our lives. Paul tells us to rejoice; he practically orders us to rejoice. This command resonates with the desire we all have for a fulfilling life, a meaningful life, a joyful life. It is as if Paul could hear what each one of us is thinking in his or her heart and to voice what we are feeling, what we are experiencing. Something deep within us invites us to rejoice and tells us not to settle for placebos which simply keep us comfortable.

At the same time, though, we all know the struggles of everyday life. So much seems to stand in the way of this invitation to rejoice. Our daily routine can often lead us to a kind of glum apathy which gradually becomes a habit, with a fatal consequence: our hearts grow numb.

We don’t want apathy to guide our lives… or do we? We don’t want the force of habit to rule our life… or do we? So we ought to ask ourselves: What can we do to keep our heart from growing numb, becoming anesthetized? How do we make the joy of the Gospel increase and take deeper root in our lives?

Jesus gives the answer. He said to his disciples then and he says it to us now: Go forth! Proclaim! The joy of the Gospel is something to be experienced, something to be known and lived only through giving it away, through giving ourselves away.

The spirit of the world tells us to be like everyone else, to settle for what comes easy. Faced with this human way of thinking, “we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and for the world” (Laudato Si’, 229). It is the responsibility to proclaim the message of Jesus. For the source of our joy is “an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of our own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy” (Evangelii Gaudium, 24). Go out to all, proclaim by anointing and anoint by proclaiming. This is what the Lord tells us today. He tells us:

A Christian experiences joy in following a command: Go forth and proclaim the good news! A Christian finds ever new joy in answering a call: Go forth and anoint!

Jesus sends his disciples out to all nations. To every people. We too were part of all those people of two thousand years ago. Jesus did not provide a short list of who is, or is not, worthy of receiving his message, his presence. Instead, he always embraced life as he saw it. In faces of pain, hunger, sickness and sin. In faces of wounds, of thirst, of weariness, doubt and pity. Far from expecting a pretty life, smartly-dressed and neatly groomed, he embraced life as he found it. It made no difference whether it was dirty, unkempt, broken. Jesus said: Go out and tell the good news to everyone. Go out and in my name embrace life as it is, and not as you think it should be. Go out to the highways and byways, go out to tell the good news fearlessly, without prejudice, without superiority, without condescension, to all those who have lost the joy of living. Go out to proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father. Go out to those who are burdened by pain and failure, who feel that their lives are empty, and proclaim the folly of a loving Father who wants to anoint them with the oil of hope, the oil of salvation. Go out to proclaim the good news that error, deceitful illusions and falsehoods do not have the last word in a person’s life. Go out with the ointment which soothes wounds and heals hearts.

Mission is never the fruit of a perfectly planned program or a well-organized manual. Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven. Mission is born of a constant experience of God’s merciful anointing.

The Church, the holy People of God, treads the dust-laden paths of history, so often traversed by conflict, injustice and violence, in order to encounter her children, our brothers and sisters. The holy and faithful People of God are not afraid of losing their way; they are afraid of becoming self-enclosed, frozen into élites, clinging to their own security. They know that self-enclosure, in all the many forms it takes, is the cause of so much apathy.

So let us go out, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). The People of God can embrace everyone because we are the disciples of the One who knelt before his own to wash their feet (ibid., 24).

The reason we are here today is that many other people wanted to respond to that call. They believed that “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort” (Aparecida Document, 360). We are heirs to the bold missionary spirit of so many men and women who preferred not to be “shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security… within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving” (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). We are indebted to a tradition, a chain of witnesses who have made it possible for the good news of the Gospel to be, in every generation, both “good” and “news”.

Today we remember one of those witnesses who testified to the joy of the Gospel in these lands, Father Junípero Serra. He was the embodiment of “a Church which goes forth”, a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God. Junípero Serra left his native land and its way of life. He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters. Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.

Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by: siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized. He kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!

…words inspiring us to act with mercy and compassion.

………hugmamma.

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“a doubting thomas”

Ever since I can remember I’ve been a “doubting Thomas.” In fact  my husband, a former seminarian, has raised an eyebrow or two when I’ve taken to interpreting Catholicism differently from that of the Church.

I’m no pushover as a follower. Perhaps that’s the black sheep in me. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve always been a rebellious, youngest child. Tell me I can’t do something, and you’ve got me wondering…”Why not?”

Give me something I can understand and own for myself, and I will follow you to the moon and back. But never try to pull the wool over my eyes, for you will probably lose me.  Perhaps forever.

At the moment I’m once again a “doubting Thomas.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, “doubting Thomas,” it refers to one of Christ’s followers who, when confronted by the risen Christ is unable to accept that He is, in fact, risen from the dead. So that Thomas can believe, Christ instructs His disciple to place his finger into the holes in both hands where the nails were, and into the hole where a soldier’s lance pierced His side.

Only with physical proof could Thomas accept that his Lord and Master had indeed risen from the dead

Maybe that’s what I need. A face to face meeting with God.

You’re probably wondering what set me off this time. Well I’ll tell you.

Eastside Catholic School, an institution of some repute within our community, is in the midst of an uprising of sorts.

The school’s president and CEO, Sister Mary Tracy, fired Mark Zmuda, the vice-principal after learning that he married his gay partner last summer. She did so because, historically, the Catholic Church preaches against the evils of homosexuality. And according to her, she was acting on behalf of the very conservative Archbishop J. Peter Sartain formerly of Tennessee, who now heads the Church here in Seattle.

The outpouring of support for Zmuda from students, parents, the alumni, and the community-at-large has grown exponentially within the last several months. The protest has been brought to the attention of CNN’s Anderson Cooper and will probably make it onto Stephen Colbert’s show.

At this juncture it seems Sister Mary Tracy acted on her own.

The website of the archdiocese clearly states that it has no jurisdiction over Eastside Catholic School.  “…this school is a Catholic institution that is separately incorporated and is not part of the Corporation of the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle. It is not sponsored, directed, administered or managed by the Archbishop of Seattle or his delegates.”

It’s almost a certainty that she won’t be turning to Pope Francis for help since he has publicly stated that he is fine with gays.

And it’s that papal statement upon which the protesters have decided to hang their cause. If the Pope is up for change, then why isn’t Sister Tracy?

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the school’s theatre director, also gay, intends to marry her partner this summer. To make matters worse, her contract was renewed along with an increase in salary.

Alumni member Mary Helen Nuxoll Kopczynski, class of 1996 and the school’s first female student body president, now residing in NYC, also questions how two long-time Jewish teachers at EC can follow Catholic doctrine since the school fired Mark Zmuda for “not following Catholic doctrine.” Kopczynski goes on to say that 17 teachers were fired in 2010 for wanting a grievance policy; they were each paid $7,000 for their silence. Kopczynski remarked

We are the crusaders, we are the product of this school and we don’t agree. I’m having a tough time understanding these weird unilateral, dark decisions. 

In addition, Kopczynski said the alumni want to see the school’s board include two parents, two teachers and two alumni, not just ‘rich people.’

She said the school’s attorney, Michael Patterson, donated $90,000 to the school and he is also the attorney for the archdiocese, which would seem to be a conflict of interest.

An adult protester made note that “If Jesus were here today, he wouldn’t be in Sartain’s office, he’d be out here with us.” You’d think that was a no-brainer, right?

Unfortunately the Church bureaucrats get so caught up in their rules and regulations that they forget to live like Christ. They keep Him high up on a pedestal away from His followers.IMG_2301

And so, here I go again…

…i’m a doubting thomas…and glad of it…

…hugmamma.

12 ordinary women…

Not so ordinary…as it turns out. Twelve women, hence the name, 12 Ordinary Women (http://12ordinarywomen.com/) who came together to support a common cause…a handup for those in need. Whatever the need.

I’d never heard of the group until my daughter told me about the gift basket given her anonymously. The messengers who sought her out while she was in dance rehearsals at the studio, couldn’t tell her from whom or why she was selected as the recipient. A curious friend googled the website of the group and that’s how my daughter learned about her benefactors.

Along with gift cards to a couple of restaurants and other goodies, was a card addressed to my daughter. Not only were the ladies generous with their tangible tokens of affection, but their words of kindness were touching. They let my daughter know that she was loved and admired, that she should be proud of her accomplishments. I can’t recollect all they wrote, but I was moved that strangers would take the time to acknowledge my daughter with love and respect. What parent doesn’t want others to see how special one’s own child is?

We’ve no idea why my daughter was selected for such generosity. She and I spoke at length, seeking to find the basis for it. Whatever the reason, it warms my heart to know that in this world there are people who take the time to tell others…”you’re worth it.”

God bless…the extraordinary…TWELVE ORDINARY WOMEN…

…hugmamma.

an energetic organizer, and true christian

Haven’t posted about our pastor, Father Bryan Dolejsi, in some time. But today’s Mass reminded me of the gifts with which he has been blest, and which he uses with enormous energy, and generosity. I’m sure there are many others like him, in positions of leadership, within the religious world, as well as within the secular. I, for one, have rarely seen someone possessing all that it takes to be a force for good, in a world that has gone so bad. I say we clone the man, and distribute him to the furthest corners of the universe. Yes, even the aliens could use Fr. Bryan.

Why do I go on singing his praises? Have you ever heard of a pastor, one in his late 30s, instigating neighborhood gatherings? After Mass, the parishioners were invited to sign up for community dinners according to our zip codes. If no one steps forward from among those listed, Father hosts the dinners at his own home. I’m certain it’s a pot-luck meal, but still. In my 61 years, I’ve never eaten a meal at the home of a priest. I’ve had them to our home, but never been reciprocated, and never expected to be.

Obviously Father Bryan’s purpose is to bring his congregation together, to know one another, beginning with small groups, and eventually growing so that there is camaraderie among all in the parish. Sensitive to the isolation of individuals, Father attempts to gather all unto himself, infusing us with his love and energy to go forth and spread God‘s word of charity and compassion towards others.

Breaking of the bread.

Image via Wikipedia

After Communion, Father Bryan asked that parishioners of less than a year gather before him to receive his blessing, and ours. Then he asked that they turn toward the congregation and receive our applause, welcoming them into the fold. He then asked that we speak to our new members, say “hello” or offer assistance if needed.

Now what mom wouldn’t be proud of a son like Father Byian? Not having met the woman, I’m positive his mom couldn’t be prouder of the man she raised from birth. 

for a leader who shows by example…and for the mom who set the example…huge hugs…hugmamma.

god bless the children

god bless the children

for they know not what they do,

bouncing basketballs at 9 on a sunday morning

while i’m trying to sleep in,

bears no weight with them.

god bless the children

for their glorious shouts of joy,

with each “hallellujah”

my brain reaches out anew.

god bless the children

for disturbing the sabbath’s peace,

god created them

so he must’ve had a clue.

god bless the children

they’re just being the little buggers,

god always meant them to be.

god bless the children

now that i’ve dragged myself from bed,

they’ve decided to call it quits.

god bless the children

their antics can make me nuts,

but you know what?

gotta love those kids

…and i do…hugmamma.

postaday2011 topic: what would you do with a million dollars, tax free?

Pay off bills, so my hubby wouldn’t have to stress. Enhance our retirement fund since hubby’s retiring in a few, short years, and we’ve used some of our funds to help our daughter with her profession. Set up a trust for her so she could dance without worry about her future. Set up college funds for nieces and nephews who might need help. Give monetary gifts to family members in need. Make donations to individuals struggling to improve their lives, or nonprofits working to help the impoverished, the abused, the downtrodden.

a million bucks may not do all that…but a little bit here and a little bit there can also help…hugmamma.

good samaritan #11

Saw CBS hit show “Undercover Boss” last night, and realized I had to write about this particular segment when I saw that my husband was tearing up along with me, routine for me, not for him. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the reality show, it follows a corporate CEO who shows up at company work sites to witness the day-to-day operations, first hand.

Kim Schaefer, CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, is the first female boss to do the show. Changing her appearance, with a new haircut and color, she, with camera crew in tow, pretended to be a stay-at-home mom being filmed for a reality TV show. Dressed down, that is, not in her usual suit and high-heels, Schaefer buddied up with an employee in each of the following areas: the day care center, the water park, the front desk and the restaurant. I’m pretty sure some, if not all, were at different locations, of which there are 10 throughout the country.

As a result of her findings, Schaefer reported back to her management team that  no drastic changes needed to be made, but there were things that needed tweaking. Front desk registration took too long, sometimes up to 15 minutes, causing long lines to form. The sweltering heat in the water park was great for guests, but unbearable for employees. Schaefer asked managers responsible for these departments to look into making the necessary modifications. She went on to say the company should look for ways to acknowledge its appreciation to its employees, for their dedication and great service. Credits at the conclusion of “Undercover Boss” noted that Great Wolf Resorts is now rewarding all its employees by allowing them free access to any of its locations for family vacations.

Schaefer acknowledged that while her motivation to go undercover was prompted by her position as CEO, her on-the-job experience as working stiff reverberated with her as that of a working mom. “My expectations were that I was going to come in as a CEO and look at it through the eyes of the CEO…It ended up being about the people and me as a working mom.”

At the show’s start, Schaefer was shown with her family, her husband who enjoys being a stay-at-home dad to 2 teenage children, a son and a daughter. Schaefer acknowledges that she is passionate about working, that she couldn’t imagine not dedicating herself to a job outside the home. In observing the family dynamics, it’s obvious she is a loving mom and appreciative spouse. She looks and behaves nothing like the domineering, sharp-tongued, controlling Miranda Priestly in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Unlike Meryl Streep’s character, Kim Schaeffer seems perfectly capable of being a top-notch CEO while maintaining the warmth of a normal, human being who loves her husband, children, and yes, even her employees. In the “great reveal,” Schaeffer invites to corporate headquarters, the 4 Great Wolf Resorts employees whom she shadowed during filming. Each arrives separately for a meeting with the CEO, unsuspecting that they’ve already met, albeit under very different circumstances.

I couldn’t help but think, as I’ve thought before, that moms would make the best bosses, the best leaders. That’s not always true, as in Sarah Palin’s case, in my opinion. But Kim Schaefer was as warm and unassuming in her CEO attire, as she had been in a camp counselor’s get-up, aquatic assistant’s shorts, waitress’ uniform, and receptionist’s drab garb. Schaefer spoke from the heart, reaching across her desk to hold the employee’s hands in hers. Her appreciation for their service was genuine, as were her tears. Her words weren’t “office speak.” They were the language of compassion, of empathy, for the plight of the working man and woman. 

To each of the four, Schaefer made a personal gift in addition to promotions and pay raises. For the mom who supervised kids in day care, her daughter was given a full scholarship to college. The young man who oversaw aquatic operations would realize his dream of becoming a pilot, with fully paid flying lessons. The receptionist who suffered with knee problems because of a bad fall would not only have surgery, but would be guaranteed the day shift so that she could better parent her children as a single mom, and some extended time off to be with them.

The most heart-wrenching to watch were the tears shed between Schaefer and the waitress, who’d lost a 9-year-old daughter years earlier in a car accident. Of all her employees, this woman resonated the most with her boss who realized how precious her own daughter, and son, were to her. The waitress’ positive attitude about life, “I live each day as if it were my last,” and “I do my job, regardless of the size of my tips,” was an amazing testament to her character. The fact that she worked double shifts to support her family, including a baby, moved Schaeffer to cut her employee’s work hours without reducing her pay, by making her a floor supervisor. In this capacity she would impart valuable customer service experience to others.  And she was also given extended vacation leave to enjoy her family.

As I said before both my husband and I wiped a few tears from our eyes, watching CEO Kim Schaefer interact with her employees. I even said to him, he should keep his eyes and ears open if he ever heard that someone was looking to hire an amazing person to run their operation.

from my lips to bill gates ears…hugmamma.

Following are the 10 Great Wolf Lodges and their locations:

  • Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • Poconos PA, Scrotun, PA
  • Grapevine TX
  • Charlotte, Grand Mound WA
  • Mason OH
  • Williamsburg VA
  • Kansas City KS
  • Traverse City MI
  • Wisconsin Dells
  • Sandusky OH     

a homeless face

The Issaquah Reporter ran an article recently on sheltering the homeless. “When help means life–or death” addresses the fact that Seattle’s Eastside suburbs are working diligently to secure permanent housing for the homeless. Prominently featured in the accompanying photo is Vincent Flint.In business for himself as a finish carpenter for 36 years, a bad shoulder and the economic downturn changed his life forever.

Four years ago his body was too torn up to work and the housing market began to halt, he lost his job and he was on the streets.

For the first few years he slept in his car in front of the Crossroads Top Foods. Then he began camping.

Flint uses his YMCA membership to keep clean, does laundry at a friend’s home and doesn’t do drugs or drink.

Jobless, he decided to teach himself a new trade, 3D design. He stays warm at the Crossroads Bellevue Shopping Center during the day and, with laptop in hand, doesn’t stand out as anything other than someone taking advantage of free Wi-Fi.

Battling Hepatitis C since April, Flint says the mile walk from his camp to the shelter at the Crossroads Community Center is almost impossible; a $5 bus ride to Redmond and back too costly.

“I’m not walking a tight rope,” he said. “I’m walking a razor blade.”

“Even if the cities pull together and get a permanent shelter open all winter long, there is still a transportation problem. Buses aren’t cheap to those who have nothing, and a recent gubernatorial budget promises deep cuts into government handouts and food stamps.”

Support the shelter The Eastside shelter’s greatest needs are one-time donations of washable blankets and money for operational support.

Contact Colleen Kelly at the City of Redmond to make donations, 425-556-2423 or ckelly@redmond.gov.

join me in helping vincent flint…and others like him…hugmamma.

hugging is “aloha”

You know how I can tell that President Obama is Hawaiian? He hugs, a lot.

And by osmosis, Michelle’s Hawaiian too. She hugs as much as her husband, but hangs onto the recipient a bit longer.

I’ve noticed this before, but while watching one newscast of the Tucson memorial for victims of the recent shooting, I carefully observed Obama and his wife as they made their way through the throngs of well-wishers. Their hugs were infused with the “aloha” of the islands.

Growing up Hawaiian, hugging a person as a welcoming gesture, or a parting one, was like drawing breath. Moving forward into someone’s space is akin to bringing him or her into mine. The sensation of bodies touching in “aloha” is pleasant, heart-warming. My guard is down, my mind is open. I want to share the best of me, my “better angels,” as coined by Lincoln in his first inaugural address in 1861. I wish I could rattle off a Hawaiian phrase that would capture the essence of what I mean. Could it be “hoomalemale?” I’m not sure. My mom would have uttered a paragraph of native speak by now. I’ll have to google my ancestral tongue. Come to think of it, I’ve a Hawaiian dictionary somewhere in my house. I’ll post a blog in Hawaiian when I find the book. (Just don’t hold your breath.)

Perhaps because my mom was a native Hawaiian, full-blooded, she came by hugging naturally. And because of her, so did I. Unless I feel a strong vibe from someone, I automatically pull them into a huge hug. Friend or stranger, peon or dignitary, working stiff or corporate CEO, my hugs are the same. I connect on the most basic of human levels, one person reaching out to touch another’s soul in compassion. If I was asked what I liked best about myself, my propensity to hug, everyone, would be my answer.

Until my father-in-law suffered a massive heart attack more than two decades ago, my husband and his family weren’t publicly affectionate. They’ve always been the model of Christian generosity, sharing their home with everyone, making all feel like “ohana,” family. But huggers, not so much. All that seemed to change after my father-in-law was stricken. Not only were hugs given more freely, but saying “I love you” to one another before hanging up the phone has become commonplace. That’s always their reply to me, when I tell them “I love you.”

I’ve even taken to telling friends “I love you.” I think it’s taken them aback. Not all reply in kind. No matter, if I feel like saying it, I say it. I understand that there are differences in culture, and in upbringing. My Brit friend, Sylvia, however, always tells me “I love you” back. I think that’s because she thinks of me like a daughter. Something she once told me. So I make sure I tell her that I love her, like a daughter. One can never have too many mothers, or daughters.

My husband’s definitely grown in displays of affection over the 40 years we’ve been married. He’s had no choice. I’m a relentless hugger, and “masher.” That’s another thing my mom taught me, how to “mash.” She’d smother me with hugs and kisses before I was even awake to appreciate them. At the time, I found her “mashing” a nuisance. I’m sure that’s what my husband and daughter felt at the beginning. Now, they’re resigned to it. But as I’ve aged, I’ve cooled it some. I think good “mashing” requires energy, the kind I still had through the early part of my 50s. Now, I just hug a lot. And I’m so blessed that my daughter’s a big hugger too! That’s my legacy to her, and to future generations of our family.

Maybe we should become a nation of huggers. It’s impossible to hate someone you hug. Hugging slips the switch from distrust, to possibility. Hugging opens you up to listening. Hugging is positive, not negative, energy. Hugging welcomes you like “ohana.” And in God’s eyes, aren’t we all family? We should be, let’s all hug…

sending huge hugs to all of you, my global “ohana”…hugmamma.

“good samaritan #10,” a Thai restaurant

During the holiday season the media tends to focus more attention on acts of kindness. My ears perk up whenever I hear of small town heroes who, in the course of their daily lives, show compassion for others. On local news, Kiro 7, just such a segment ran about a Thai restaurant in Ballard, a suburb of Seattle.

Thai has become my favorite Asian food, since I’ve found several local restaurants which offer delicious fare. It use to be that Japanese food was my very favorite, followed by Chinese. Unfortunately, those local restaurants which I use to visit with regularity, have been disappointing of late. And as I’ve remarked to family and friends, “Don’t eat calories you don’t LOVE!” I know I can’t afford to waste calories on “so-so” food.

After learning about the enormous generosity of the Thai Siam Restaurant, our family will be dining there very, very soon. For 23 years, it has been the site of a free Christmas turkey meal to those in need. This year they served 400 meals in-house, and sent out another 400 meals as take-outs. The website tells their sweet story, beginning with a video of owner Vhanthip (Nancy) Phokayasupatt, who had been an ovarian cancer patient many years ago. Perhaps that motivated her to reach out to the suffering, or perhaps it just coincided with her already compassionate spirit. Following is the open invitation for their annual Christmas dinner.

FREE CHRISTMAS DINNER FOR THOSE IN NEED  

If you know someone who would not be able to have a festive dinner on Christmas Day, Thai Siam Restaurant would like to extend our invitation to a free turkey dinner.

 Also written on their website is their mission statement, as a member of their community. More businesses should follow suit in giving back to those who not only support them, but to the less fortunate in our society. The world would be a better place, for sure.

Thai Siam is not only a place for wonderful dining, but is also a place for community building.

Our mission is not only to give all customers, their families and friends the best in quality and healthy food, but also to be involved in the community as much as we can. We believe that community is the heart of all things. That is why for 19 years, we have used our restaurant to help raise funds for local charities that serve our neighborhood, such as Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, Union Gospel Mission, Boys and Girls Club, The Masha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, Cancer Lifeline and many, many more. Also, we have hosted a yearly dinner to provide warm food for the less fortunate every Christmas.

Food is a source of life, and we are thankful to have been blessed with this gift that we can share with the community. Thank you for the continuous support you have provided us. We are encouraged to know that you are standing with us.

  

for Nancy and her elves at Thai Siam Restaurant, huge hugs…hugmamma.

  

  

 

reality vs. freedom and hope, dr. william petit

How does one wrap one’s brain around the horrific murder of a mom and two, untainted, beautiful, young daughters, one 17 and the other 11? Where do you begin to unravel the tightly wound “spool” that commingled the thread of 6 lives? How did they become entwined? Was it perchance, or was it fate? Where was God when this crime against humanity, against Him, occurred?

Apart from hearing of the Petit murders sensationally broadcast all over TV when they happened in 2007, I didn’t care to delve deeper into the crimes. Certain acts, like these, register too close to home to want to acknowledge them head on. It’s easier to turn away, so that your brain doesn’t absorb all the evil details, so that your imagination doesn’t prohibit you from living without fear.

 The Petit family may have lived a privileged life by virtue of Bill’s being a physician. Maybe that sealed their fate that day. But when one of the co-conspirators, Joshua Komisarjevsky, randomly selected Jennifer Petit and her daughter Michaela in a local supermarket as possible victims, he didn’t know that they were of above average means. Not until he and his partner, Steven Hayes, were well on their way to committing the heinous crime, did they establish how much money, $15,000, they could abscond. So the Petits were stand-ins for any number of American families. The configuration of victims and dollar amount might have differed, but the crime would have played out somewhere, according to the whims of the 2 men who decided to play God.

Dr. William Petit spoke with Oprah, allowing us insight into a victim’s agonizing recovery. Looking at him, only a “shell” remained. He has reconciled himself to living, deciding that suicide would remove any possibility that he could rejoin his loved ones in the after-life. Slumped on the formal sofa, eyes squinting from behind eye glasses, Bill’s voice barely resonated. Oprah seemed to infuse life into him with her gentle probing. Perhaps the interview was cathartic to the doctor’s healing process. It’s obvious he’s in need of a spiritual transfusion.

Having lost his family and his home, which the criminals burned to destroy the evidence, Petit has lost the essence of his identity. He was Jennifer’s husband, and father to Hayley and Michaela. Without them, it’s difficult to heed well-meaning advice from those who tell him to “live in the moment.” His past gone, and his dreams of the future destroyed, he feels disconnected from the present. Upon leaving the cemetery with his sister one day, he asked her “Who am I? Whose clothes are these?” No longer the same person, Bill is unconvinced that he will find happiness, or love once again. Because he suffers post traumatic stress, he gave up his medical practice, something he says Jennifer would want him to resume. He claims to have “good” days, and “bad” days. His sister is saddened on the days when her brother is unable to get out of bed, or when he shuts himself in a room, away from life.

“What is it called when you lose a child?” Petit asks Oprah. He explains that when a husband loses his wife, he’s called a widower; when a wife loses her husband, she’s a widow. The talk show hostess suggests that it’s unnatural for a child to die before its parent, so there is no word to describe his position after the loss. Petit agrees. When asked if he can forgive those who took the lives of his loved ones, Bill first lists crimes which could be forgiven, a car accident, a theft, verbal diatribes. But, he says, “it’s inappropriate to forgive the essence of evil.”

Talk of his daughters momentarily lights up Bill Petit’s eyes which twinkle, a smile creeping across his face. He had a special relationship with the eldest, Hayley, whom he nicknamed “KK Rosebud.” Her favorite saying had been “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Smart and athletic, Hayley was bound for Dartmouth where she would continue to participate in sports as she had in high school. Had she known first love? According to her father, Hayley was in love with someone a year younger in school, for whom she would interrupt her studies to shoot hoops. Petit wished his daughter had experienced true love, before her life was snuffed out.

Michaela, the youngest, liked gardening, but loved cooking more. She cooked the family’s last meal together. Petit remembered it as being a very good meal.

Jennifer, Petit’s wife and partner in managing their lives, was a nurse and surrogate mom to the students in the boarding school where she worked. Amazingly, she also suffered with multiple-sclerosis, though she never complained about it, according to those who knew Jennifer. Daughter Hayley had started a foundation to support MS research in the hopes of saving her mom from the disease. After their deaths, Precious Petits continued the cause. Bill Petit sees the foundation’s purpose as three-fold. First, to fund educational programs, such as those in the sciences, especially to benefit young women; second, to fund MS research; and third, to help victims of violent crime.

Helping others has eased Petit’s heartache, as has knowing that the world is filled with many good people, like those who have contributed to the foundation. He knows too that Hayley and Michaela would want him to be happy. God isn’t to blame, instead they’re at a standoff, says Bill, a Christian. “He has nothing to do with what happens on earth.” Petit’s probably right.

Seems to me we’ve been given all we need to live our lives, including making our own decisions, correctly or incorrectly. There are cultures which see God manipulating their lives; that’s not our culture. Americans believe in freedom, for everyone. We also believe in hope, that we will live our lives without violence. But we know that reality is ultimately, an uncertainty. We can’t control what lies beyond our reach. So we enjoy our freedom, and hope, in silence, that our lives will be harmonious. That was Bill Petit’s expectation of his family’s life in suburban Connecticut.

But what reality subtracts from our lives, hope and freedom restores. Life is change, in small ways, as well as sizeable ones. These “detours” are the sum total of who we are, at the end of our lives. Bill Petit has just taken a detour on his journey through life, and he’s decided to go the distance. Somehow we all dig deep for the courage to go forward. What’s the alternative? Quitting? I think we’re too curious a species, not to want to know what might be just around the corner, or behind door #2, or awaiting us with the dawn of a new day. Who knows? The grandest of all gifts might still be waiting on the horizon.

Reality is, what is. Freedom and hope are what can be.

for Bill Petit as he discovers “what can be,” huge hugs…hugmamma.

 

wins the contest, and the girl

Two videos of the “guy next door,” Michael Grimm, the first of his win on America’s Got Talent, the other of his commitment to red-headed Lucie, his girlfriend of 3 years. This young fellow may be the 21st century Renaissance Man all women have been praying for, talented, enterprising AND faithful. Can we clone him? Putting in an order for a son-in-law. And 2 major corrections to previous posts, Grimm is from Waveland, Mississippi (not Memphis), and the other semi-finalist Jackie’s last name is spelled Evancho (not Ivancko).

hugs for grimm, and his lucie…hugmamma.