Wednesday, February 22, 2017

ON KEEPING ONE'S COOL

SOPHRONISMOS*

* a Greek word for wisdom, but a special kind of wisdom, the wisdom to know what to do under pressure, the wisdom of knowing how to keep your cool in face of panic. 



I chose this word as the name of my little publishing company, Sophronismos Press. 

It came to me when I was reflecting on a real  life experience I had when I was pastor of our Cathedral of the Assumption. When we were digging around the foundation to add space on the back of the cathedral, the walls began to crack down the back and down one side. 

During this ugly turn of events, I was watching from the sidewalk on the street behind the cathedral. As the crack was widening and spitting out small puffs of smoke, I remember clearly saying to myself, "Ron, you do not have the luxury of coming unglued. You will be pastor of this parish whether that building falls down or not. Now get a grip on yourself!" That, I learned, was "sophronismos," the ability to keep one's cool in the face of panic. 

I have know a few people in my 47 years of priesthood who have faced humiliating situations in their personal and families lives. In the face of public judgment, ridicule and gossip, they have been able to hold their heads up, go on with their lives and reach a place of peace. I cannot go into detail without exposing them so let's leave it there in generic terms. 

Maybe you are one of those people. Maybe you, or a family member, has done something that has brought great shame on you and your family. You may have been sued for all you're worth, maybe you have had newspaper articles with photos printed in the local papers for weeks or maybe you have been stripped of your professional license and have even been imprisoned. 

I am not here to comment on the deed itself that has brought you so much humiliation, but I do want to salute you for you ability to endure, the grace with which you have handled your affliction and the 
sophronismos you have exhibited through it all. 





Last of all, I am thinking about those who are facing imminent death, or are accompanying  family members and close friends,  who are fully aware of what is happening and are overwhelmed by the prospects that lay ahead. I wish them the peace that comes with sophronismos

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRENDA

I WANT TO WISH MY OLDER SISTER, BRENDA, A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY. 


SHE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR  ME AND I LOVE HER.





Around 1948?


THAT'S HER!    BACK ROW LEFT!
8th grade graduation - St. Theresa School - 1957



This is how I looked the year she took me in, let me live in her basement here in Louisville and helped me find a job during the summer while I was in the seminary - around 1966.
I will always be grateful. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

ARGYLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (AIA) OPENS ---- FINALLY!



GOOD NEWS, BUT MAYBE NOT THAT GOOD YET



One of the hardest parts of getting down to my island country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is always having to fly from Miami to Barbados and then on to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I have been dreaming of the day when I can fly directly from Miami to SVG.

A new SVG international airport was announced in 2008. The government had previously forecast - and missed - annual completion dates of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. I have seen the construction going on during my previous visits, but I never thought I'd live long enough to see it completed. Finally, after all those delays, Argyle International Airport (AIA) opened on 14 February 2017.

That's the good news. The bad news is there are no international flights yet from places like the United States. I still have to go to Barbados and take one of those regional airlines.

There is one thin hope that something might happen. Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said that "an international airline out of the United States of America is scheduled to operate regular flights to St. Vincent and the Grenadines when the Argyle International Airport becomes operational." Dr. Gonsalves did not name the airline, but noted that arrangements are being finalized and an announcement is likely to be made in the month of June. A well placed international source said that the Airline is likely to be Jet Blue. Gonsalves, however, gave no hint as to the name of the airline. “There’s an international carrier which we have been in discussion with out of the United States. They will make the announcement towards the end of June,” Gonsalves said.

After so many promises over eight years as to the actual opening of the airport, I am leery of such promises. I will remain hopeful, however, with a wait-and-see attitude. I wish them luck.

This could help the country in so many ways, especially economically.



A longer and wider runway than the old airport runway. You still do not want to overshoot the runway, either in take-offs or landings.



The old airport's runway is much shorter and runs right into a densely populated area.



The impressive main terminal under construction. It is so much larger than the old airport terminal.



The customs/immigration area for all incoming flights at the old airport. Citizens of SVG use the lane on the right and international visitors use the lane on the left.



The one single boarding area for all flights out of the old airport. The doors lead right out onto the runway. Notice no agent is guarding the doors.  A more secure airport is desperately needed.



The beautiful flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A VERY COMMON FEAR




A Life-Long Problem For So Many People









It's irrational most of the time, but for some people the fear of rejection is a painful reality. I, too, struggled with it most of my life, especially during my early years and into my 20s. 

One example came to mind when I was writing this post. As a minor seminarian, I was a ninety-pound weakling and we were "required" to play sports. I was not bad at handball and tennis, but for me, team sports were always a source of regular humiliation. I can still remember sitting on the bench as players were selected from the best to the worst. It seems that I was always sitting there till they got to the part where they decided who "had to take" the rest of us. 

Those of us who have struggled with and overcome the fear of rejection, know that, like an addiction, there will always be a residue. I believe that most of us never really "got over it," we are just "in recovery" the rest of our lives.

The secret for overcoming the fear of rejection is not to run from the possibility, but to embrace situations where it is a possibility, but not necessarily an eventuality. It's like the fear of public speaking. The path to getting over the fear of public speaking is to do public speaking until the fear subsides.  The path to getting over the fear of rejection is to stick your neck out and find out that it does not always happen. In fact, the probability of the opposite happening is more probable. Like the bashful young teenager who is so afraid of rejection that he never asks a girl out, the only way to get a "yes" is for him to stand up to his fear and ask anyway. He may be rejected, yes, but again, he may not! He won't know for sure till he takes the risk. Nothing is going to happen, for sure, without taking a risk.



The biggest growth steps in my life have occurred when I decided that I was going to stick my neck out and not be held back my someone else's opinion of what I could do or not do. I have been amazed at how much I have been able to do when their opinions are stood up to. It often occurs to me just how much I may have missed when I didn't do that in the past.



In my work down in the islands, I often stop to imagine what other people will think if I think too big.
I know that when I do, I have to stop and tell myself to go ahead and stick my neck out and see what happens. Often, I am shocked by just how many nice people say "Yes, I'll help."




Thursday, February 16, 2017

SOME OLD, BUT VERY GOOD, ADVICE

      DESIDERATA
      Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
      and remember what peace there may be in silence.
      As far as possible without surrender
      be on good terms with all persons.
      Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
      and listen to others,
      even the dull and the ignorant;
      they too have their story.
      Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
      they are vexations to the spirit.
      If you compare yourself with others,
      you may become vain and bitter;
      for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
      Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
      Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
      it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
      Exercise caution in your business affairs;
      for the world is full of trickery.
      But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
      many persons strive for high ideals;
      and everywhere life is full of heroism.
      Be yourself.
      Especially, do not feign affection.
      Neither be cynical about love;
      for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
      it is as perennial as the grass.
      Take kindly the counsel of the years,
      gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
      Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
      But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
      Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
      Beyond a wholesome discipline,
      be gentle with yourself.
      You are a child of the universe,
      no less than the trees and the stars;
      you have a right to be here.
      And whether or not it is clear to you,
      no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
      Therefore be at peace with God,
      whatever you conceive Him to be,
      and whatever your labors and aspirations,
      in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
      With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
      it is still a beautiful world.
      Be cheerful.
      Strive to be happy.

      Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.