Saturday, June 20, 2020


This is the tenth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against hast and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same. 


Recently, I had dinner with a friend who I had not seen for a while. We used to meet regularly - maybe every five or six weeks - but because of the pandemic and "social distancing," it was our first time in ten or twelve weeks.

We don't usually talk about work or sports or entertainment, but oddly enough we talk about our personal growth or lack of it. It's sort of two-person introvert support group. 

Since we had not met for a while, I came prepared. To "prime the pump" on the discussion, I asked him two questions about how he was handling the pandemic. I asked him (1) what have you been most scared of personally and (2) what have you been most scared of professionally.

I won't share what his answers were, but I can share mine. (1) I told him that I was most afraid of getting sick myself. (2) I told him that I was most afraid of losing my identity.

FEAR OF GETTING SICK I try to be careful and follow the CDC guidelines, but I don't obsess about contracting the virus. However, I am very much aware that I am in the high risk age group. While I am pretty healthy for my age, at 76 anything could go wrong, at about anytime, without much notice. Because of all that, I catch myself wondering how I would handle hospitalization, if it came to that, especially if I had to be put on a respirator. I wonder whether I would even allow it if I were in a state where I could make that decision. I know I would ask some very serious questions. 

FEAR OF LOSING MY IDENTITY More than a fear of getting sick, I have found myself going through a mild "identity crisis." An "identity crisis" is a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.

Yes, I have been "retired" for five years, but I have stayed busy doing quite a few of the things I love to do. I don't have a position or a title, but I have had "my work" and plenty of it. I was flying here and there, to Canada and around the United States mostly, doing priest retreats, convocations and parish missions. I was volunteering in the Caribbean missions and managing my new Catholic Second Wind Guild that supports it. I was helping out at the Cathedral downtown and the Little Sisters of the Poor nursing home down the street. Things were going so well! 

Because of this damnable pandemic, all that has basically come to a screeching halt! Maybe some of it will come back, but about the only thing left right now is this blog and a couple of graveside funerals, for which I am very grateful! I cannot fly to other dioceses to do presentations to priests. I can't fly down to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, taking volunteers with me, to meet with the people I have gotten to know and to work on our projects. I am not allowed to go into nursing homes. Masses at the Cathedral were cancelled. Even now, with a reduced schedule, I am not all that needed for a while.

I wake up these days feeling very aware that I have entered a period of uncertainty and confusion in which my sense of identity has become insecure, due to these unwanted changes in my planned schedules and the scaling down of my role in the church. I keep remembering what one of my nieces said to me the day after her husband died. "I knew who I was yesterday. Today, I don't know who I am!" These days, I am a workaholic with little to do. I am a priest without a ministry. Maybe this is what happens to parents when they experience the "empty nest" syndrome? 

I know I like to be in control of things, especially those things that affect me directly. I like to be responsible for my own happiness and do those things that bring me, and those around me, happiness. I like the freedom to choose what I do, when I do it and where I want to do it. I have worked very hard to get to this point in my life. Lately, I feel that I am slowly losing the identity I have worked so hard to build because so much is now out of my control.  

Maybe that's what's really bothering me! Maybe this pandemic is exposing the truth that there are more and more things not in my control. Maybe what I am learning during all this is how to "let go" of situations that I can't control and how to live constructively without that control. I have learned from the many seniors that I have known and loved over the years that "letting go" is a huge part of aging.

In the first part of our lives, it was all about learning how to take control of the situations we found ourselves in. Maybe the last part of our lives is about learning to let go of control of the situations we find ourselves in? So far, I don't like it, but maybe I can learn? Maybe I will have to learn! 


Thursday, June 18, 2020


JUNE 10, 2020

What are white Americans afraid of?

Lolita Ewing 

Lolita Ewing is a member of St. Martin de Porres Church and founder of Hands Across Louisville, a local organization that promotes unity and advocates for an end to gun violence in Louisville.

White America, why are you so afraid of African Americans?

Since all the protesting has been going on for the last two weeks, I have been asking myself, why are white Americans so afraid of African Americans? It has really been baffling me. No matter what harm white Americans bring to African Americans, it seems it is okay or can be justified.

This started 400 years ago, and in the whole scheme of things not much has changed. Just the personnel. Let’s go back some 400 years ago, when we, as African Americans, were at home on the continent of Africa minding our own business.

All of a sudden, we noticed some strangers in the back yard. We were curious to find out who these people were that didn’t look like us at all. So, we went to greet our visitors. Little did we know this was the beginning of a massive trap, as our greetings turned into capture.

We would be taken from our homeland to be put on a boat to travel, chained on our backs, for two to four months. About one-third of the slaves would not make it due to disease, lack of nourishment and closeness. The sick and dying would be thrown overboard. It could be as many as 200 to 600 people starting the journey.

The slaves that made it would be separated from their families and sold in an auction. They only wanted the strongest and the healthiest to work in the fields from sunup to sundown.

We were beaten miserably, stripped of our very existence, our names were changed, we were forced to learn a new language. We were put with other slaves who did not speak our language even though they looked like us. The nightmare was just beginning. They only wanted the brightest, healthiest, and the best workers.

So, all during slavery and up until now white Americans have gotten what they wanted. African Americans have been protesting since we stepped on the soil. There have been wars, civil unrest, demonstrations, walkouts. You name it, it has been done for African Americans to be treated equally and fairly all across the board. But it has never happened.

Yes some things have changed. A few laws were put into effect so that some could get a decent education. But it came with a price.We could move into what we thought would be a better neighborhood, but it came with a price.

Yes, what few accomplishments we have gained have all come with a price of racism: “We don’t want you living close to us. We don’t want you eating with us. We don’t want you to socialize with us.”

So, it was okay for us to nurse your children, be raped by the men and have your children, build your country, but you don’t want to have anything to do with us and you have the audacity to be fearful of us African Americans? Help me to make sense of this.

We didn’t come to this country voluntarily. We were stolen from our own country. We did everything you asked of us when we got here and that wasn’t enough. You separated us from our families and that was not enough. You put the fear of God in us and brutalized us severely. Yet you, white America, are still afraid of us 400 years later. Talk about holding on to a grudge.

What used to be subtle racism has become full-blown. Racism varies all over the country, but one thing remains the same: It is still there. It never left.

Now, you want to know what is the problem? You are afraid because you have a guilty conscience about what you did to two continents of people — the Native Americans that were already here when you got here and the people you stole to help you build a country to your suiting.

We have talked to you until we are blue in the face and you still aren’t listening. Leave us alone.

ALL African Americans are not criminals. Open your eyes to see who we really are and work on your own issues. Just because we don’t look or act like you does not mean we are problematic.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


This is the ninth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against hast and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same. 


Psalm 139: 13-18 
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

During this time of "social distancing," I have had time to pay attention to things I usually don't even think about. One of the "very ordinary things" that I have become more aware of during this pandemic is my own body. 

As I passed my 76th birthday at the end of April, I have become more aware of my heart. It is miraculous to me that an organ that size has been pumping day and night, twenty-four hours a day, non-stop for 76 years! A refrigerator can't do that! A car can't do that! A computer can't do that! A furnace can't do that! It has kept pumping, without stopping to rest, for seventy-six years! It's absolutely amazing, and I rarely stop to think about it! 

With all the talk about the shortage of ventilators (breathing machines) and people having to be be intubated (a tube shoved down their throats to help them breathe), I have become very aware of my lungs. They have been putting oxygen into my blood for more than seventy-six years. They started seconds after coming out of my mother's womb. The only time I ever think about my lungs is when I get a lung X-RAY and the doctor tells me what it looks like. The only time I ever got alarmed about my lungs was when I was hospitalized for a blood clot in my leg. The doctor told me in the emergency room not to move off the table I was on because "if that clot comes loose and goes to your lungs, you're dead!" Like my heart, my set of lungs have been working night and day ever since I was born, while awake and during sleep, without my even noticing it!

I have used this time of "social distancing" to be more acutely aware of what I eat and the exercise that I engage in. I do not want to gain weight by becoming a "couch potato." In the process, I have become more aware of my marvelous digestive system. I am trying to see eating as something I do to nourish my body, not something I do to numb myself during boredom and stress. I have become more aware of what happens to what's left of that food when my body has processed out what it wants to eliminate. I know it sounds weird, but I have become more conscious of our amazing Metropolitan Sewer District, not just my own marvelous digestive system.  The fact that it can handle the human waste of 1,278,000 people a day so discretely is not something I have normally thought about! When you really stop to think about it, that whole process borders on miraculous in itself! 

This time of "social distancing" has offered me an extended period of reflection and introspection. As amazed as I am with noticing the very ordinary things that many of us take for granted, it is not lost on me that at age seventy-six, I am a bit like a used, but somewhat reliable, car with a bit more mileage left on it. This pandemic has opened me eyes to what could go wrong very quickly health wise, even though I am doing everything I can to do good preventative maintenance. 

Over all, this pandemic has opened my eyes. It has caused me to be more aware that, most of the time,  I really am "simply amazed and forever grateful." Now I have to keep on reminding myself of the words of Jesus, "Fear is useless. What is needed is trust!" 

Sunday, June 14, 2020


Meade County Catholic Radio

One of the tributes I received on my 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood (celebrations delayed till September), was an interview by Deacon Greg Beavin of Meade County Catholic Radio down in Brandenburg, my home County. 

The interviewer, Deacon Beavin, did a great job of covering the whole 50 years with his pointed and insightful questions. 

Deacon Greg and Shirley Beavin

I have written about my life so many times in my weekly Record columns, in my books and on this blog that you might be sick of hearing about it. If not, you can listen to the interview by clicking here: