“Linger or Remain?”

lIt’s a mixture of molasses, brown sugar and ketchup mixed in between navy beans, bacon and ground beef in a slow cooker for ten hours that make an outdoor event enjoyable.

My sister’s party was a hit and her neighborhood friends tested or tasted my brownish goo delight. Curious, though how the scent enveloped my humble abode. In the cooking periods, I didn’t mind the growing scent because it was being prepared for a special occasion. Waking up the next morning to its lingering whiffs had me anticipate the yearly occasion. The continuing mid afternoon odors caused me to wonder how long this lingering would linger? Carpet cleaner? Move to a new apartment?

The evening event began and I delivered my heavy, dark-ladened delicacy to the party. Compliments were accepted except I thought it was too watery but no one agreed with me. 1:00 a.m., I returned home and lo and behold, the whiffing decided to hang around a while longer.

Pots are thoroughly washed, cleaned and placed away but walking around the apartment still had that “something” in the air. “Are my cats going to smell like this forever?” I wonder. The party’s over and the food’s been enjoyed. Next event, please?

Lingering memories and thoughts fill the pots and pans within our lives. Good, bad or indifferent; the hanging around part can be welcomed or bothersome. And, “lingering” is the best of words when applied to unfulfilled or regrettable times of our lives. “Remaining” is the word we like and is easily attached to times we thought should have been longer – “Just a one more hour with this friend or that movie, that graduation or wedding celebration or a dying parent.”

How do we handle lingering and remaining? The longer you live the more you need to deal with those two words, words that can either cause a restless night of sleep or a soothing one. We’d like to open the windows to be free of regrets, sometimes as thick as molasses. We’d like the remaining to live strongly in our hearts, recalling details as often as possible.

The stalwart Psalm 23 resolves both of our problems. “You set a table in front of me in the sight of my foes.” Who wants to eat with their foes? At a table of plenty, you enjoy the fruits of remaining moments and also keep a keen eye on the vegetables of lingering regrets promised to never be repeated. Both are a part of life’s meal, nourishing and fulling.

It’s been a couple of days now and my cats smell the same. The apartment windows are wide open and Saturday’s meal becomes a “remaining” in spite of those “lingerings” scents. I hope my evening meal keeps Psalm 23 in my mind. It concludes, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available at Amazon.com

“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

Newest books include:
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

 

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“Stuck In The Middle With You”

Jesus sowing seedJesus uses “wheat, seed and yeast” to describe the Kingdom of God.

“Welcome to the quiz show, ‘Take Your Pick Sunday.’ Take your pick of which one best describes you: wheat, seed or yeast.

Wheat, seed or yeast. If church were a quiz show, we’d have a lovely, lonely housewife from 57th and Lloyd (a street in Milwaukee, WI.) as a contestant. “Mame, if you want a chance to spin the big wheel for the bigger prize, I’m going to need your answer.”

She says, “Seed,” and the audience sighs. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” I’d say to her because I’m the TV host, “The correct answer was ‘yeast.’ Go back to being a housewife.”

Roughly a 35% of choosing the correct answer and missed it. Sounds like religion to me! Jesus is the TV host. He doesn’t wear a tie but has sandals. We’re each given that housewife’s question and one chance to answer correctly.

Or maybe the three choices are different for each of us. Another set of three may be, “believe, not believe or kinda believe.” Take your pick on my left. My right side’s set of three may be that person, “hate, ignore or accept”. The front rows of folks have this set of three: “a true vote for Trump, a vote for Trump because you didn’t like Hillary or a true vote for Hillary.” Take your pick.

But religion is not about choice or choosing. Religion is about a passionate belief in a set of uplifting principles and authentic worship that supports and inspires you, challenges you and stands on all sides of you, your entire life. That’s religion.

There is no quiz show when it comes to religion. The correct answer to my quiz is “D.” The answer is all three: wheat, seed, and yeast. Because, all three deal with growth – moving from one place to another, maturing from one thought to a new insight, deeply owning as we age what we took for granted in grade school. Now, your religion no longer “has you” or “owns you” like the old joke about “pray, pay and obey.” Now you have religion. You’ve grown into it.

What was an interesting story about a prodigal son actually happened in your life, the widow cleaning her house for a silly lost coin triggered something significant in your journey toward a deeper faith, walking on the other side of the road to avoid the wounded Samaritan finally touched something inside of you.

Those of you who know me know that I always have a song rocking away in my head. I love music, well here it is. While typing this reflection, a song from a 70’s rock group called “Steeler’s Wheel” came to mind. I think it was their only song. Forget its boy/girl theme and instead insert religion, belief and spiritual growth.

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right,
here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,
And I’m wondering what it is I should do,
It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all,
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,
‘Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you…”

We existed in God’s eyes before we were born and one day will return to our Creator. Our lives are that “middle” and we’re trying to figure it out along with fellow “clowns” and “jokers” – all of us “stuck” in this middle. And through faith, we are able to “unstick” ourselves by reflecting on the qualities and benefits of the simple things of life: wheat, seed and yeast, and then build our lives from there.

The lonely housewife from 57th and Lloyd was correct. She could pick any of the three: wheat, seed or yeast and be right. And she would have won a swing at the big wheel for the bigger prize – eternal life.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available at Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

Newest books include:
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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Four (Not So Little) Words

music1In the middle of the Catholic Mass, the priest begins a prayer with four words attributed to our love to God: “right, just, duty and salvation.”

This beginning sentence is often (if not every time) hurried through to get to the next  paragraphs. But what about those four powerful words? Four flippantly said words as though what’s being said is, “Nice day today, isn’t it?”

There is nothing “nice” about “right, just, duty, and salvation.” These four words propels us toward something greater and beyond ourselves in the Kingdom of God to come and at the same time connects us to that greater and that beyond in the Kingdom of God right here and now. Can there be a better definition of religion?

Right


It’s opposite is wrong which leaves only one choice. (Who’d choose wrong, unless you’re Walter White?) Right or wrong. There is no middle, no in between or never even a slight mark connecting those two words. In lofty, solid principles, “right” has been clearly defined throughout the ages as well as its been practically adapted to fit the age in which we live. We can think of how many social issues when “right and wrong” collided until the “right” surfaced. Slavery. Women (voting, work, and, pay), Worker’s rights. Gays. What is “right” to our glorious Creator is the question we ask ourselves, in prayer and in action, with each emerging issue.

Just


The blind lady of justice shows us what is just. She’s blind. She’s blinded until all the information is accumulated, assimilated and properly presented to her. Then, only does the blind lady of justice see. She can only see what is before her and presented to her. That’s the blindness of justice until you’re able to see and witness for yourself where “just” lies and where “just” just fails and is lacking. That’s the justice sought out by any religion. (Interesting that it’s a “Lady” of justice, isn’t it?)

Duty


Tricky one, duty is. Just do what you’re told to do without reservation? Just obey? The trick of “duty” is to trick yourself into figuring out what your “duty” is tricking you toward. Is it only this or that or is it that some thing that you haven’t considered? Duty in military service is a mandate but in real life, duty is a discernment. We hate the word discernment because that means homework for us. But homework is the personal “duty” for each of us. If you don’t do your own “duty” homework, then someone else will truly and inevitably do it for and to you. And then you’re stuck with their duty for you until you “duty-up” yourself.

Here’s a duty exclusively for the oldsters among us. We got the duties of youth and adulthood pretty well understood and expected but what is your duty during this third stage of your life? (Grandparents can add at least twenty years to their lives these days.) What duty do you need to complete about your past? What duty can you serve this very day and tomorrow until your tomorrows run out?

If you’re just waiting to die then I can assure you that death will happen. If you wish to live to your fullest during this tender, sometimes called “borrowed time,” then what do you do during this sacred time? How many times I’ve heard, “I never thought I’d live this long!” Stop making that silly remark (as if anyone knows how long life will last) and start living the answer. That’s making “borrowed time,” your time.

Salvation


Salvation is the shortest of my reflection. “Let the chips fall where they may,” said someone about an unknown future. It also applies to our unknown eternal future. I say if the first three are carefully cared for and cared about then the unknown fourth of salvation will easily follow.

The priest may say those four words quickly but within our hearts, please hold them dear, because they are our words offered and given to God as a response to His gift to us: a life that is worthy of life and authentically lived. And only we, with the grace of God, can make at least three of them happen.


Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available at Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

Newest books include:
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages,”
Bowling as a metaphor for growing up

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Staying Fit At Work

office-chaos-cartoonWho needs a health club when you have a job!

Jumping to conclusions
Flying off the handle
Dodging responsibility
Pushing your luck
Pushing the sale
“Just punt”
Doing an endrun around projects
You’re stepping out of line
You dodged that bullet
Just throw it in the trash
“Let’s take a time-out”
Throw in the towel
“Let’s put that on hold”
Rushing to conclusions
Shoving a knife in your co-workers back
Knocking the business down
Circling the issue
Stepping on her toes
“Let’s take a step back”
Tripping each other up
Running around in circles
This is over my head
Run over by a bus
Racing toward the deadline
Sidestepping expectations
Dancing around the issue
Stretching the truth
Pulling for others
Dragging out old grudges
and finally…
Butting heads together

And it’s all done before lunch!

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available at Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

Newest books include:
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages,”
Bowling as a metaphor for growing up

 

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“Well, I kinda believe…”

When you imagine what a prophet looks like, most likely it’s a raggedy dressed, messy beard (always a man, by the way), standing on a street corner yelling at everyone passing by but no one is stopping to listen.

That’s our imagination of a prophet. How would you imagine a righteous person? That’s easy. A blah sort of person, sitting in a corner of the room watching everyone else and thinking to him/herself, “I’m glad I’m not like them.” A righteous person, indeed.

Well, you know where I’m headed in this sermon, I’m about to dismiss both of those images.

If I went around the church today and asked each of you if you’re a prophet and a righteous person – you’d all say, “no,” but then think to yourselves, “I’m ‘kinda’ both.”

Prophet

I can tell you today that you’d all be ‘kinda’ correct. I like that word kinda. It has a middle ground feeling to it. “Are you happy today?” Kinda. “Are you feeling okay today?” Kinda.

A prophet informs the present because of understanding the past with a hint toward the future. Want to hear that again? It’s important.

Jesus was a prophet as well as how many others we could name from the Bible and over the centuries. Martin Luther King, Jr., Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton, your mom. Wait! Your mom!?

Yes, your mom. She’s the one who told you not to put your hand on the stove. You didn’t listen and wonder how those painful blisters got there. Because you see, your mom learned that from her mom who learned it from her mom. None of them listened until the blister-thing happened. Now that prophetic message is communicated generation after generation to non-listening children’s ears. That’s the prophet each of us is.

“Do your homework if you want to get into a decent college.”
“Do the dishes because you’ll be washing them the rest of your life.”
“Learn to iron your dress shirts, it makes a difference for your first interview.”
“Wash your hands,” for obvious reasons.

When questions of faith arise each of us can be a prophet in our own personal way. We have centuries to fall back upon and our own experiences to build upon. That’s what makes a prophet. A prophet informs the present because of understanding the past with a hint toward the future.

Righteousness.

We tend to think of righteousness as an end we achieve and settle into but it’s really the quality of our lives lived each day. Some days we may hit the nail on the head in our behavior and the next day falters a bit. But we always have an open eye toward what is just, dignified and acceptable in God’s eyes.

I think one of the most beautiful parts of being a Christian is that we don’t need to perfectly land each day. We’re empowered, however, to keep trying, each day. Christians kinda do the right thing and other times kinda fail. But, we admit our failings and promise God to try better the next time. No one – God, angels or anyone else can ask no more or less of ourselves. So, please keep trying to be “kinda” prophetic and righteous people.

Now. I’m not kinda finished talking, I am finished.

And thank you for kinda listening.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available at Amazon.com:
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture

Newest books are “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages,”
Bowling as a metaphor for us growing up

 

 

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Jesus: The Character Actor

b4ce9a8b8eaf2339f2dedcf6f2b52d35I know I look like Brad Pitt but I don’t want to be him. I wouldn’t want to be Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise either.

For the oldsters, it may be Douglas Fairbanks, Gary Cooper or Humphrey Bogart. Wouldn’t want to be any of them.

Is it because of their fame, money or large estates? Nope. It’s because of their stars. They’re usually the reason you go to a theater. They’re the drawing card.

What I do want to be and I hope I am, is a character actor. A character actor. I’m not sure what that means but I know its purpose. Character actors make the story in a movie move forward. They inform and enlighten the star of the movie. Often character actors are very smart people – they know everything about marriage yet they’re not married. (Go figure.) They don’t make much money, usually a have happy job and are quite content with themselves. I guess that’s why the star turns to them for confidence, perspective or saying to the star, “just get off your butt and go get the girl of your dreams.”

Jesus is telling us all to become character actors. Not the stars with top billing but secondary actors with a more important role in the lives of others. “Take my yoke” and place it upon your shoulder, Jesus says. In other words, take my problems and make them your own, as best you can.

You’re watching a movie and you see this character actor doing what characters do. You swear you’ve seen him before but you can’t remember the name of the other film. And, you can’t remember his name. At a party you hear someone say, “I know I’ve seen him in a lot of films, who is he; who is she, go Google it.”

Believe it or not but Jesus was a character actor. He wasn’t the star of the greatest movie ever made. His dad was the star. Jesus helped to move the story line forward to each of us. Jesus uses every preposition possible (“with, in, through”) to connect himself to his dad but in that union the center of attention is the star, our Creator.

Louis Guzman has been in 145 television shows and movies. I know you don’t know his name but if you saw his face, you’d say, “I know that guy!”

A good friend is telling you a troubling story and you could easily interrupt with a troubling story of your own (or trumping your friend with an even more troubling story) but you keep your mouth shut. If you were to speak then there’d be two stars on life’s stage instead of the necessary one. You listen as best you can. You’re able to console, give advice and keep a listening stare to support your friend.

A “listening stare,” a good term. It’s golden in its meaning and in measuring a friend’s yoke that’s been placed upon your shoulders.

I’m not the star. I’m a character in faith, a character in friendship and a character in fact.

Did you know that Rosie O’Donnell was a character actor before becoming a star? Did you know that if it wasn’t for Rosie O’Donnell, Meg Ryan would still be listening to the radio talk show host…Meg would never have returned the engagement ring to Bill Pullman…She’d never have seen the Valentine lit up on the Empire State Building…Tom Hanks would be still be talking to the talk show host and grieving his dead wife…and the kid (Ross Malinger, by the way) would have grown up without a mom.

Be a character actor. Carry someone’s yoke upon your shoulder. It may very well lessen the yoke that you carry. You can always try to become a star next year.

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at Amazon.com:
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture

The newest book is “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats

Posted in Spirituality | 1 Comment

“Every Day Is Saturday!”

If someone asks me what day it is I now say that, “I think it’s Saturday.” I add “think” so they don’t put me away but inside myself, I truly believe in the Saturday-ness of it all right now.

My alarm-clock-wet-nose-cat routinely rubs his orifice into my face and I see that it’s 6:00 a.m. when I need to get up…wait, what’s the “need?” Bathroom time is still okay at my age. Whether it’s 8 or 9:00 a.m. doesn’t seem to matter much, unless I’m really tired and unable to fall asleep the night before.

 

My title doesn’t exist in the corporation who bought my corporation. Uniformity does make a business run more smoothly across state lines. “Who’s this guy with a title that doesn’t exist?” “I haven’t met him and never will but this is just weird.” Since they took over, “Catholic” and “compassionate” are posted everywhere I walked at work. I felt comforted that stability and strength would make us an even better facility.

It’s 10:00 a.m. now and I’ve already read the paper and caffeinated myself for a job I no longer have. My friends and two cats are comforting but the cats kinda stare at me wondering why I’m still here and it’s 10:00 a.m. I think of writing this now but then thought of doing it tomorrow. “What day is tomorrow?” I wondered and then quickly say to myself, “Why, it’s Saturday!” I’ll do it on Saturday.

One good friend offered counsel telling me that this is a “dry run” for what will last for me until death five years from now. The statement wasn’t that counseling but I was amused at having a test run for doing nothing a few years ahead of me.

True retirement must mean volunteering for a worthy cause or breakfast with like-minded friends lamenting over the destruction of the world while they are actually talking about their own destruction, as in death. (The world will continue on without you guys, trust me.)

Most of my immediate time is reflecting on what happened as though my thinking could change events. It happened. I’m here. What I need to do is to be “peaceful with myself” as my sister wished. I love the phrase because my head and sleepless nights are anything but. My task, during this temporary time, is to divide up the day so that something ends and something else begins. Otherwise, this super quiet day seems endless with a heart and mind dwelling on a place that no longer exists for me.

“Oh well, that’s their problem now,” I say to myself when I sufficiently solved all their upcoming problems with grace and diligence for twenty-two years. It’s only been two days but the shock is fully felt. I need to admit to myself that this is the beginning of something new and exciting.

That was another friend’s advise, “new and exciting.” I know that it’s Saturday but now I want to make it to Noon to decide what to do with my endless afternoon and a too-much-soul-searching evening.

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An Idea

Where Does It Begin?

An idea comes out of nowhere but originates in the ordinary mind of an ordinary person. An idea takes mindful flight as it travels, “tossed into the air and transformed…escape and recaptured..made iridescent with fancy, and winged with paradox,” as Oscar Wilde described it.

An idea is born and finds life while still living in your imagination, germinating and looking for maturity. You wrestle with it until you feel it is honed sufficiently to present it to others. The inner grin where the idea was born slowly emerges on your confident, smiling face. The first unveiling of this creative infant is a meeting tomorrow morning with your peers.

Tentative but Excited

Sheepish and positive, you present your still-growing, tiny gem to others. You expected the first reaction. “It’ll never work,” says the steadfast employee who enjoys the present status quo and hopes the boss agrees with him. After some stumbling talk, the next remark is also expected, “It’s been tried before and didn’t work,” said the employee whose newness ended after his first year. You sit back as the chatter heightens and you observe as your newborn is laid across the table of stability, small risks and continuing paychecks.

Ingenuity, innovation and creativity are words often used to describe a company but rarely to describe its employees. The words look inspiring in an annual report but the day to day operation is more frequently heavily weighed in a steady course toward retirement.
You drive home as alone as when you went to work that day. Smiling to yourself, however, you realize that you were never alone. You had an idea. It is growing, blossoming and has potential. This idea will soon have a life of its own. For the moment it’s escaped but soon recaptured and transformed for the its next stage, and your boss will take full credit for your idea. Your inner grin returns and soon becomes your outward smile.

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Bowling With Jesus

bowling_ball_and_pinsThe 3, 6 and 9th Bowling frames are my favorites. What other sport not only allows but encourages you to drink! These three frames are called “beer frames.” When I was in college, I received a college credit for Bowling – Tuesdays, and Thursdays, true story.

3, 6 and 9 are the “fun frames” because you either receive a treat from someone or you are able to treat someone. (Although it may not feel like a treat while you’re paying for the beers.)

The other frames never really interested me which is why I’m not a serious bowler. The other frames were just stepping stones toward those “fun three.”

But there they are; those other frames – 1,2,4,5,7,8 and that defining the 10th frame.

Frames 1 and 2 are those formative years of ours. Finding the right shoes, the right weight ball (not too heavy but not too light which more easily leans toward the gutter. You get to know your teammates – some perhaps for years while others just pass through. Jesus chose twelve bowlers, not because of their skills but because of their passion. He saw something in them that triggered and excited something in him. “Maybe these guys can really pull off this ‘Kingdom of God’ stuff,” Jesus might have thought to himself.

“Oh, finally, here’s frame 3. I get to take a break and this time I get to receive a beer.” Perhaps, frame 3 is a graduation of some kind, grade school, high school, college or technical school. The first sip tells you that you’ve made it through life’s first mark and you feel great and proud of yourself.

Frames 4 and 5 bring the responsibilities of using those newly gained talents. Now’s the time to be tested. You’ve had those earlier frames to get yourself warmed up and ready; now the work really begins. I don’t like those electronic signs which show everyone’s scores. Good or bad, it’s clearly visible for all to see. (It was bad enough during a bad game to just have your teammates look at that low score next to your name.) That’s what frames 4 and 5 brings. Scrutiny. Evaluation. Comparison. Jealousy. Competition. Success or failure. You can’t help but wonder when…

“Oh wait! It’s not “Miller Time,” it’s “Frame 6 Time.” Another breather. The second pause to this game that is sometimes just like life. There may be slight milling around during this break. Talk about family changes, updates about houses or jobs, gossip about people you hardly know or sharing a stupid joke that you heard at work. Before the other team wonders what happened to you, you all gather for frames 7 and 8.

7 and 8 frames get a little easier. You’re comfortable now in your game. Either you’re slightly ahead of others, clearly ahead, solely behind or you just don’t care. Take your pick and you can link someone’s name to it. This is Jesus’ proving ground. Does he go through with this “God thing” to death or just chalk it up as a bad idea from a God he barely knows. He kneels at a stone and with a sweaty brow powerfully says, “If this can pass, I’m all for it. But if it is your will, I’m all in.” The other bowlers are sleeping off the two beers from frames 3 and 6 while Jesus continues his rumination, his doubts, his fears and truly his passion. He does this in private because no one else can capture, own, or live what he, himself, needs to do.

Oh yes, Jesus has read all the Ann Landers columns for years, the self-help books, friends from all over told him what was best for him and what the future held for him. He’s digested it all and now the 7 and 8 frames call him to something greater than himself. He suspects what it might be but is not entirely sure. He prays what he hopes it will not be but knows what he thinks it will be.

“Thank goodness, it’s the 9th frame. I thought it’d never come. Another beer! Only one more frame to go before I can place this heavy ball back into my bag. This heavy ball that has carried whatever I never wanted, what was placed upon me by life, what I carried inside myself that makes it so very, very heavy.

Roy Clark sang the song, “Yesterday When I Was Young,” and the song uses “tongue” as an image – a tongue to describe life’s regrets, successes, rewards, and punishments. Who would have thought of using a “tongue” as an image for life? Charles Aznavour. (Who would have thought of “Bowling” as an image for a Sunday sermon? Me!)

He begins the song…
“Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue.
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game,
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I’d always built to last on weak and shifting sand.
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of the day
And only now I see how the years ran away.”
He concludes the song…
“There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung,
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue.
The time has come for me to pay for
Yesterday when I was young…”

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Enjoy Roy Clark’s, “Yesterday When I Was Young”

The 10th frame. It’s your final throw and the game is completed. The shoes and ball are safely tucked into your bag, your teammates wave and smile as they return to their homes and families and as Roy sings, “Only I am left on stage to end the play.” This play, this game we call life. Jesus played all the frames and came out to be to the Son of God. Who would have thought? And now what lives within us is a Kingdom of complete mercy, total forgiveness, and an enduring hope.

There are many opportunities in between those 3, 6 and 9 frames but it is those frames that help define and make us who we are today.

Whatever the weight of your life’s bowling ball, carry it carefully because it contains concerns for your children and friends, our society and your own well-being. Carry it carefully, hold it close to your chest, and even when it gets too heavy but never, ever left go of it.

Those shoes that you would never wear in public are safely tucked away in memories, reminiscences, passing thoughts about your past.

The jersey? Keep your jersey because it represents community, fellowship and family. Your jersey doesn’t say on the back, “Wonder Bar” but it says that you led a life to the best of your ability, you’ve made mistakes and you’ve accomplished successes. The mistakes, Lord, are for you to unravel and figure out. I only want to hold on to my successes.

Do you think Jesus kept his life’s bowling jersey with the same message on the back of it? I think he did because we’re on the same bowling team.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at Amazon.com:
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
“Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas, & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,” reflections on the Catholic Church
and American culture

The newest book is “Letters From My Cats,” a collection of writings
from my cats’ perspectives

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“Letters From My Cats,” New Book

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle, a great gift for cat lovers!

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