Everyone Can Do Little Things

It’s just the little homely things,
The unobtrusive, friendly things,
The “won’t-you-let-me-help-you” things
That make our pathway light—
And it’s just the jolly, joking things,
The “never-mind-the-trouble” things,
The “laugh-with-me, it’s funny” things
That make the world seem bright.

For all the countless famous things,
The wondrous, record-breaking things,
Those “never-can-be-equalled” things
That all the papers cite,
Aren’t like the little human things,
The everyday-encountered things
The “just-because-I-like-you” things
That make us happy quite.

So here’s to all the simple things,
The dear “all-in-a-day’s-work” things,
The “smile-and-face-your-troubles” things,
Trust God to put them right!
The “done-and-then-forgotten” things,
The “can’t-you-see-I-love-you” things,
The hearty “I-am-with-you” things
That make life worth the fight.

Father Calek

flower84

 

 

A Mother’s Love

When God created mothers, He knew exactly what He was doing, because He knew the world needed mothers and the world needed love. I’m telling you, there isn’t anything in this world that can compare to a mother’s love. A mother’s love goes the distance.

When I think about a mother’s love, I think about Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. As she witnessed the crucifixion and the execution of her son on a Cross, I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and the hurt that pierced her heart. Mary’s love for Jesus Christ of Nazareth was faithfully with Him when He was born in a manger in Bethlehem, and her love was faithfully with Him as He died on a Cross at Calvary. Mary’s love went the distance.

When I think about a mother’s love, I think about my own mama. I remember as a child, on a particular night, I had a toothache, and I was in pain. I can still remember my mama rubbing my gums down in toothache medicine and rocking me to sleep as she held me in her arms, while humming a tune. Because of my mama’s love for me, her love medicated my pain, and her voice and her love soothed me to sleep. When my mama died during my childhood, her love for me has never been replaced after all these years. My mama’s love went the distance.

When I think about a mother’s love, I think about my spiritual mom who was a bridge over troubled waters during critical times in my adult life. My mama introduced me to Jesus Christ and taught me to love Him, trust Him, and believe in Him. But it was my spiritual mom who taught me how to be and become a Christian by her selfless example. There was a time in my life when I was homeless, and my spiritual mom demanded me to move from 500 miles away to live with her in her home. Such unconditional love had never been shown me not since before my mama and daddy were alive. I will never forget the spiritual and life lessons that my spiritual mom taught me. My spiritual mom’s love went the distance.

When I think about a mother’s love, I think about the love that many mothers have for their incarcerated sons and daughters. These mothers pray for their incarcerated children, not only for their safety, but with the hope they will make the choice to make the necessary changes to better their lives. Having a loved one incarcerated is stressful and painful, and many mothers make the spiritual choice to put their incarcerated children in the hands of God. As I always say, “You do your best, and God will do the rest.” And God can bring about positive change in our lives, if we let Him. So, mothers of incarcerated children, keep praying for them, with the blessed hope that they will one day decide to make positive and construction changes in their lives.

A mother’s love is a powerful force on this earth, as well as in heaven. A mother’s love cannot be replaced. When you are loved by your mama, a mama’s love is one of the sweetest blessings you will ever experience in your life.

In conclusion, I’m sharing the poem, “Two Mothers,” with you. This poem illustrates a heavenly conversation between the mother of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and the mother of Judas Iscariot. When I first read the poem, I was deeply, emotionally affected. Even still when I read the poem, I find myself crying. I thank God for choosing Mary to bring the blessing of the Savior—Jesus Christ of Nazareth—into the world. And I truly thank God for Jesus Christ of Nazareth who demonstrated through His life, His death, and His resurrection the meaning of true love.

Two Mothers

Long time ago, so I have been told,
Two angels once met on streets paved with gold.
“By the stars in your crown,” said the one to the other
“I see that on earth, you too, were a mother.

And by, the blue-tinted halo you wear
“You, too, have known sorrow and deepest despair…”
“Ah yes,” she replied, “I once had a son,
A sweet little lad, full of laughter and fun.”

 “But tell of your child.” “Oh, I knew I was blessed
From the moment I first held him close to my breast,
And my heart almost burst with the joy of that day.”
“Ah, yes,” said the other, “I felt the same way.”

 The former continued: “The first steps he took-
So eager and breathless; the sweet startled look
Which came over his face – he trusted me so.”
“Ah, yes,” said the other, “How well do I know”

 “But soon he had grown to a tall handsome boy,
So stalwart and kind – and it gave me so much joy
To have him just walk down the street by my side”
“Ah yes, “said the other mother,
“I felt the same pride.”

 “How often I shielded and spared him from pain
And when he for others was so cruelly slain.
When they crucified him – and they spat in his face
How gladly would I have hung there in his place!”

 A moment of silence – “Oh then you are she –
The mother of Christ”; and she fell on one knee.
But the Blessed one raised her up, drawing her near,
And kissed from the cheek of the woman, a tear.

 “Tell me the name of the son you love so,
That I may share with your grief and your woe.”
She lifted her eyes, looking straight at the other,
“He was Judas Iscariot: I am his mother.”

Author Unknown

flower53

2018 FLU SEASON: STUBBORN AND DEADLY

Since the beginning of this year, many people of all ages have died from the flu. What has been most disconcerting is the number of children and healthy adults who have died within days of contracting this particular strand of flu, which has proven to be very stubborn and has left many families devastated from the sudden death of a cherished loved one.

Even though I write bits and pieces about death and dying, and although I consider myself to have a deep faith and trust in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I sometimes have a very difficult time understanding death, the necessity and reason for death, and the trail of emotional pain death leaves, especially when a cherished loved one is snatched away, with little or no warning.

To have a son, daughter, mother, father or any loved one to die suddenly from this stubborn strand of flu is just beyond devastation. The psychological and spiritual pain is enormous. There has been a great loss in the family, and there are times when you feel as if you are in a bad dream. But life has a way of smacking us back into reality, and we are confronted with the fact, and with the pain, that our loved one has died.

I know that many people across the United States are hurting and have heavy hearts from having a loved one die from the flu. I watch the World News, and I see the beautiful faces of those who have been snatched away, prayerfully to a far better place than this earthly existence. And I see the tear-stained faces of those who are trying to grapple with the heavy weight from their loss.

In the days, weeks, and months ahead, I hope and pray that you have a shoulder to lean on, arms to hold you, and a kind hand to wipe away your tears, and someone to say, “I love you. You are not alone. We will get through this together.”

No matter how much hurt and pain we experience in this here life, I pray and trust that God’s grace, mercy, and love will get us through the tough times. I am reminded of a little piece of Scripture from Isaiah, chapter 43, verses 2-3: “When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” I hope you find a little bit of comfort from these words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DR. BRANDON ROGERS: A BEAUTIFUL BRIGHT LIGHT

On the night of July 11, 2017, God directed me to watch the very last minute of America’s Got Talent. And thank God I did! If I had procrastinated one minute longer, I would have missed a beautiful tribute to such a beautiful jewel: Dr. Brandon Rogers. At the end of the tribute, my face was a tear-stained mess, as it is right now, as I write this reflection.

For those who watched the special tribute to Dr. Brandon Rogers, you might have been captivated and enthralled by Dr. Rogers’ beautiful voice and musical range, of which I was, too. However, my spiritual perception discerned something deeper and profound. If my spiritual gift of discernment is on point, I believe, with all my heart, that Dr. Rogers was a very spiritual, young man who loved God and who loved the people whom God had privileged to his life and care—including family, friends, and patients.

I don’t know if you could see it, but my spiritual eyes could see an extremely bright light shining brilliantly from Dr. Rogers’ spirit and soul. And I immediately knew that he was a very special soul whom God allowed to visit Earth for 29 years. (I only wish his journey on Earth was much, much longer.) At a time on Earth, when so many bad things are happening every day and all the time, we need more and more bright, beautiful God-loving lights like Dr. Brandon Rogers to make a difference in the so many dark places on this Earth.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Brandon Rogers touched many, many lives during his short time on Earth. He possessed a very sensitive, kind, loving, humble soul and spirit. For those who were fortunate and blessed to experience Dr. Brandon Rogers’ love, kindness, and friendship, please cherish it and hold on to it every day, and plant seeds of his memory into as many lives as possible.

I decided to write this blog piece to celebrate Dr. Brandon Rogers because I do not want his memory to ever be forgotten. (Today, October 30, 2017, would have been his 30th birthday.) When I learned that Dr. Rogers was from Virginia, I instantly felt a close bond and connection to him, because I too have Virginia roots.

Dr. Brandon Rogers, you are and shall be dearly missed. I thank God for your life and for your humble, beautiful, and sweet gifts and talents which you freely shared with so many people. May heaven enjoy you and your beautiful voice, as so many of us did.

Because God was first and foremost in your life and not fortune or fame, I believe you would have won America’s Got Talent competition! There is no doubt in my mind.

When I die and finally reach the beautiful shores of heaven, I hope you will bless me with one of your beautiful songs. By the way, my favorite Stevie Wonder song is “Lately.”

God bless, bless, and bless you, Dr. Brandon Rogers, and thank you for blessing Earth with your beautiful presence.

INCARCERATION AND ITS TRAGIC EFFECTS ON THE FAMILY

When a family member is incarcerated, the immediate and extended family oftentimes suffers from having a loved one in jail or in prison or in the penitentiary. Regardless of what society thinks and feels about those who are incarcerated, there are many family members and loved ones who feel as if they are locked up, along with their loved one, because of the emotional, psychological, and spiritual connection and attachment that they have with the incarcerated. No matter what an inmate is convicted of or accused of, the inmate is still part of a family system that loves him or her. When a family member is locked up in jail or in prison or in the penitentiary, the family experiences a loss within the family. And when someone is taken away or snatched away from the family, there may be feelings of grief, anger, sadness, guilt, abandonment, fear, disappointment, frustration, loneliness, being overwhelmed, or obsessive worry.  Many feelings flood one’s mind and spirit when a loved one gets locked up.  

The incarceration of a loved one creates many hardships on the family, particularly financial hardships. In many instances when a loved one gets in trouble with the law or becomes a part of the criminal justice system, most family members do not have the financial resources to pay for good legal representation. But for those few families who are able to scrounge up enough money to pay for legal fees, it does present a financial burden.  

Although many prisons and penitentiaries have prison industries, which allow inmates to work, the wages that most inmates make are not enough to provide for their basic needs, especially when the inmate earns between ten cents to fifteen cents an hour. If an inmate is paid ten cents an hour for eight hours of work, eighty cents does not even come close to buying needed necessities. And most items that are sold in the prison’s commissary are oftentimes two to three times higher in price than if the same items were purchased on the streets.

A number of inmates take upon prison jobs because some correctional facilities mandate inmates to work. And if an inmate chooses not to work in one of the prison industries or decides not to work on a particular day, then a disciplinary report is oftentimes written up on the offender for refusing to work in a prison industry or in a prison job detail, thus violating policy and procedure. Also, the inmate’s refusal to work may land him or her in the hole (which is called segregation).

There are many inmates who are happy to work in a prison industry or in an assigned job detail because it gives them something to do and it decreases boredom. In some instances, an inmate can learn a valuable skill. On the flip side, there are offenders who will not work period but who would rather freeload off of family and friends. And there are a number of inmates who do not have a support system to help them during challenging times in their lives.

Although society writes off those men and women who populate the jails, the prisons, and the penitentiaries all cross the United States, people often forget that the offender is part of a family system and that there is a mama, a daddy, a brother, a sister, an aunt, an uncle, a grandma, a grandpa, a cousin, a wife, a husband, a son, or a daughter who loves the offender and who will always be emotionally, psychologically and spiritually connected to the offender.

When most inmates are locked up in jail, in prison, or in the penitentiary, especially when there is a lengthy incarceration, family members and loved ones have to shoulder many financial burdens from month-to-month. For example, family members send their incarcerated loved ones money orders or wire them money through Western Union or through some other financial setup to help them to buy food, hygiene and cosmetic items and other toiletries, clothes, a television (if the prison allows it), a clock, or a fan (for the hot summer months).

Family members have to shoulder the cost of collect prison phone calls. Some of the prison phone providers have expensive phone rates, and some state prisons receive financial kickbacks from phone providers. If a parent has a child who is incarcerated, naturally, the parent is going to accept a collect phone call to ensure his/her child is alright.

There are many family members and loved ones who would love to visit their incarcerated loved one on a regular basis, but the travel time can be long and expensive. Sometimes it can take family members four to five hours to drive to a prison or a penitentiary. If visiting hours start at nine o’clock in the morning and if it takes four hours to drive to the prison, this means that the visitor must leave home at four o’clock in the morning in order to get to the prison in time to be processed for the visit.

Again, family and friends of the incarcerated experience loss and challenges from having a loved one incarcerated. There are family members and loved ones who grapple with shame and isolation and have a difficult time coping from having a loved one in prison. I am here to tell you, no one is perfect and we all make mistakes in life.  

Unfortunately, we live in a very judgmental, condemning, and punitive society when a person makes a mistake, and we live in a society that does not believe in giving people second chances to better their lives. We live in a society in which we fool ourselves into believing that people do not make mistakes, at least, not “those” mistakes.

I believe most people on the streets who consider themselves “somebody” could not survive in jail or in prison or in the penitentiary. Unless someone has a loved one who is locked up in prison or in the penitentiary, most people have no idea or even a clue about how rough and dangerous it is behind prison walls.   

I am a Christian who totally and absolutely believes in Jesus Christ of Nazareth. What made me decide to accept Jesus Christ of Nazareth as my personal Lord and Savior was how Jesus Christ showed compassion, love, mercy, grace, kindness and forgiveness to people who were marginalized within the culture of His day. These Christ-like qualities I find to be significantly lacking in today’s culture. The culture of today is: lock ‘em up and throw away the key. But I would like to remind you that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was locked up in prison. And when people and society show a lack of compassion, love, mercy, grace, kindness, and forgiveness towards others, particularly those who are marginalized and downgraded in the culture in which we live, how can we possibly expect for God to show compassion, love, mercy, grace, kindness, and forgiveness towards us?

At least, for me, living out my faith as a Christian is an everyday challenge, and living in faith is most definitely not a rose garden. I encounter a lot of thorns along the way. Feeding my spirit with the Word of God and humbling myself in prayer tremendously help me to navigate the day. I am often reminded of the words of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verse 40, which says, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!” I truly believe that when we show compassion, love, mercy, grace, kindness, and forgiveness towards others, we end up blessing God.

Life can be very unpredictable and we never know what is around the corner. And we never know when we might find ourselves in a situation where we might need some compassion, love, mercy, grace, kindness, and forgiveness just like those who are incarcerated.

PRIDE DAY: CELEBRATE THE PRESENT BUT DON’T FORGET THE PAST

I believe that sexual orientation is as old as Methuselah, and I also believe that same gender loving people cannot help whom they love. That’s just the way they were created by God. I believe God is a God of diversity, and I believe that same gender loving people are a part of God’s love and creation.

As Pride Day is being celebrated all across the country this month, I sometimes wonder whether everyone who attends Pride Day celebrations truly understands the struggle of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.

Back in my day (the 1970s), I had plenty of gay friends when I was in college. In fact, one of my best friends was a drag queen who wormed her way into my life. The campus population was over 25,000 students. I am telling you, people got along. There was no such thing as relentless gay bashing and hate crimes on campus. Yes, there were a few ignorant people on campus who would name-call, but no one paid them any mind because they had no friends and were only seeking attention.

Mind you, those college students who were part of the gay community were not ostentatious and flamboyant. My gay and lesbian friends were intellectually brilliant and pretty as hell, had beautiful spirits, and we all had a great time. All of my life, I have attracted diversity, like a magnet. I believe that when you really truly get to know people, you are the richer for it.

During my college years, I was blessed and fortunate enough to meet an old lesbian couple who were in their 60s. Of course, they could not celebrate their love freely nor could they freely identify themselves as lesbians. Back in the day, some things had to stay in the closet, even the love between two beautiful ladies who were very nice to me.

I sometimes wonder if the younger generation understands the struggle, the sacrifice, and the hardships that the older gay sisters and brothers had to endure. And to those vain peacocks, I unapologetically say, “You are where you are in life because you are standing on the shoulders of many queens and kings who came long before you.”

As Pride Day is celebrated, please do not forget the unsung heroes and heroines who were part of the struggle in gay liberation.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES: BELIEVE IN YOU, NO MATTER WHAT!

I graduated high school over forty (40) years ago, and it was a different world back then. There were no computers, no laptops, and no internet. When writing research papers, we had to sift through the card catalog in the library and find the necessary books on our subject matter, and read them. There was no such thing as plagiarism or faking it. Also, we had to type our papers with a typewriter, and we used lift-off correction tape to correct errors.

My high school grading scale, I thought, was demanding. 100 – 95 was an A. 94 – 88 was a B. 87 – 81 was a C. 80 – 75 was a D. And below 75 was an F. Whenever I received an “A,” it was well earned.

Recently, my cousin informed me that her daughter was being inducted into the National Honor Society. For some unknown reason, it triggered a memory from many, many years ago. You see, when I was in high school, I was not inducted into the National Honor Society. This particular pain in my life inspired me to write the short vignette, “Looked-Over,” which I will be sharing with you.

To the high school graduate who may feel looked-over or over-looked, my advice to you is to always believe in yourself, no matter what. And more importantly, believe in God. Whatever gifts or talents God has blessed you with, your precious jewels will someday shine. So, keep polishing your jewels. In other words, keep striving to get better and better at what you do best, and your gift will take wings and soar in the sunlight.

Looked-Over

Sometimes, I can still feel that sharpness in my chest of many years ago. It was a pain that made me realized that life is not always fair. So, I thought.

When I was in high school, I was voted most studious in my senior high school class. I was one of three seniors who was nominated for most likely to succeed. At graduation, I received an award for outstanding school attendance (missing only four school days out of four years), and I received the award for the most outstanding foreign language student (completing four years of French and one year of Spanish). I was an honor graduate, originally ranking #8 and then slipping to #11 among all seniors, with a grade point average of 3.52. I was in the French Club and Library Club and lettered in both. I was listed in Who’s Who during my junior and senior year, and I was selected as A Distinguished American High School Student. Guess what? I was the only senior in the top 15 who wasn’t inducted into the National Honor Society. My guidance counselor told me that the reason for why I wasn’t inducted was because I didn’t play a sport. Can you believe that playing a sport was a criterion for being inducted into a club that supposedly was rooted in academics? Several students in both the senior and junior class expressed outrage because I was looked-over.

I was hurt by this deliberate omission, because I studied hard and worked hard in high school. Nevertheless, I continued to pursue life and my dreams. Well, life I am still pursuing, and some stuff that I thought was dreams has fallen by the wayside. With age, one grows in wisdom, and one learns to divorce oneself from the un-necessaries that don’t add an inch to the yardstick of one’s life.

I have learned that success is not measured by how many clubs you belong to, or by how much money you make, or by what type of job you have, or by which neighborhood you live in, or by what type car you drive, or by finite power (that’s here today, and gone tomorrow), or by fame and fortune. Rather, success is measured by the quality in which we treat people, by the time we set aside to emotionally and spiritually invest into people, and by how much we can love people. Thus, ultimate success is building strong bridges of friendships and relationships with people as we live this journey called life. If you want to leave the best of yourself while on this earth, leave footprints of love and kindness in people’s hearts, and you will always be remembered, because somebody is going to share your story and your love.

Not being inducted into my high school’s National Honor Society was not the end of the world. Being looked-over was a true blessing. Because when people look-over you, especially when you are well deserving of recognition, the universe has her way of balancing rights and wrongs. And she balances life—like a checkbook.

It may take days, months, or even years before wrongs are righted. But somewhere on your journey of life, you will experience a God-moment, and you will become spiritually aware that God has given you something very special and unique that cannot be looked-over or over-looked.

God has blessed me with the gift of inspiration that gives people hope, and I don’t miss being looked-over by my high school’s National Honor Society committee one bit. But I do miss some of the friendships and relationships that I built along the way. I only wish I took better care of them.

I am experiencing joy and passion as I write this short story, because I have come a long, long way since my high school days. I thank God for the looked-over times in my life. I have become a richer person because of them—in faith, in hope, and in love. What a joy it is when the candle of your life can be a light to others.