Tuesday, May 30, 2006

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. Troilus and Cressida. Act iii. Sc. 3.
The 'Kan EWA
From the Garden



The 'Kan EWA

Monday, May 29, 2006

Something's come up over the last week or so and it's time I address it, as I may have already waited too long.

I have had a series of dreams, wherein I am with a familiar person that I know in my day to day life. These people are all real people, with names in the phone book here--people I encounter in business, socially, in the community. We are in a positive encounter of some sort and and the other person is sitting. It's a good, yet some kind of undefined moment; then, I rise and go to this person and kiss them on the forehead, near their hairline. I squeeze them on the shoulders and move on.

New dream, new person. Same positive social situation, same kiss and squeeze. After I remembered this dream, the second time, I began watching people's hairlines, in Starbucks, at the gym, on the corner, wondering if I have a new found attraction and/or affection for hairlines or foreheads. Not that I could see; or understand. So I kept moving. Kept dreaming. Only thing in this dream that I could determine that might be significant is that while I know all the people I kiss on the forehead in my non-dream life, I do not know them well to kiss them hello, let alone on the forehead. So the kiss could be out of context.

It came up again tonight; I was rewatching the final episode of 'Sex in The City' again, as I am missing Paris. At some point, someone gets up and kisses someone else on the forehead and follows up with a shoulder squeeze. It wasn't 30 minutes ago that I watched this but the particulars are lost to me already. The kiss and affection was exactly as it's been in my dream.

So now I know that this is not random; I know that I need to kiss someone, offer love, support and affection, that needs it right now. Thing is, you know who you are. I don't. But know this: I am here for you; I have affection for you; I believe in you. I know that whatever it is that's plaguing you, is incidental in your real life, the life you are really meant to lead. You know it, too, okay? Mount your challenge, ride it till it's limp and lifeless, then bury it. I'll be waiting on the other side. Or walking with you, whichever works better.

You can do this.

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Own Private Idaho


On Location

Marble Creek, Idaho

The ride got called on account of rain. Drove down to the trailhead on the Res, to be met with light black skies. Decided to drive to the end of the lake and see if it was raining. Looked up the lake to the train bridge where it was pouring. Decided to drive up the St. Joe and ride from Avery to Calder on the lower end of the Hiawatha Trail, about 60 miles, all told. Rained all the way up to Avery and all the way back down. By this time my snit was complete. And full! I was in a full complete snit! BUT as things happen, I did come upon my cultural heritage, right there on the river road, the Marble Creek side of Calder. BTW, these guys were massively hung over and all chewing snoose. And I am not related to any of them, to my knowledge.

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The silver mountains loom in the far distance. The view at the trailhead lays it all out for you so there is no mistaking your mission: you ride down to the lake, up and over the lake on the train bridge, through to Harrison, up the north side of the Harrison flats to the Rose Lake plain up the Coeur d'Alene River valley to Enaville, Kellogg, Osborn and Mullan,on the other side of those mountains you saw 72 miles ago. Where by the way, if Idaho were Germany, there'd be passion plays and beer festivals in the fall to which international tourists would flock. But Idaho isn't Gemany, so once you get 72 miles up the trail to Mullan, you turn around and ride back to the Res at Plummer, where you started. If Idaho were the Sonoma Valley, there would be charming inns and cafes dotting the trail, where you'd stop for repast and revival; but Idaho isn't California so we make bread and butter with cheese sandwiches at home and we carefully tuck them into our backpacks with green grapes and water bottles frozen with lemonade. We throw in a bottle of frozen water for good luck. We feast all the way up and all the way back.

We see freshly hatched duck eggs. We see myriads of blooming wildflowers. At points, the trail is obscured by drifting cotton from the cottonwoods trees. We see pastured dairy and beef cows. There are still plenty of deadheads in Coeur d'Alene Lake. The river is alive with moose, deer, heron, eagles and hawks. Even, we see unlucky individuals who have tried to master the trail, but sadly, have failed.

Not us, though. No failure for us. We're so on this. And we have a new nano, programmed and fully loaded with 1106 explosively powerful songs. North Idaho, here we come.

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It dawned on me that I just don't have to take it.

My freaking iPod can be as difficult as it wants to be and it can't and won't effect me anymore. That's cuz I bought a nano. ha!

The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

He came to school beginning of The Christ Child's sophomore year. He was a giant. A king of a man. It was the most gentle of ironies that his name was Joe Small, Father Joe Small, S. J. He was maybe 5'4".

Father Small, from St. Anthony's parish in Missoula, Montana, had a simple and disarming manner, which resulted in a dead-center connect with everyone he met. He would look in your eyes and shake your hand, his grasp and smile emanating warmth, understanding and keen humor; his sheer presence was one of unconditional love, acceptance and great humility. He was a huge Joe Cocker fan and wore his Joe Cocker t-shirts as easily as he wore his Roman collar. He ran 5 miles early each morning while saying the rosary. He was the most fit, spiritual 73-year old man I ever knew.

He was a homilist second to none; I remember clearly the time he stepped to the lectern at the chapel on a Friday mass during Lent to comment on the ubiquitous scripture regarding the unclean lepper, Zacheus. He mentioned the traditional things associated with that passage: isolation, lonliness, courage, understanding and the room was lulled, comforted by the familiar story and by his familiar insights. Then the homily took a sharp left turn, veering wildly into no man's land; the room became instantly alert with panic and anxiety on a winter afternoon itself gray and white with some kind of fear.

Says this king of a man: contrary to traditional wisdom, leprosy continues to plague, in fact, threaten contemporary society. Not only that, it is a fact that leprosy is alive and well here at school today. Right now. Lepers are all around us. You've seen them; you know who they are. They are the ones hovering in the corners of the halls and hanging back from the hubbub of activity in the cafeteria. They are in this room even as I speak. They are the ones that don't fit in so well. They are the ones with the funny jeans, the hair that's not cool, the ones without a cell phone or the ones whose bodies are too big or too small. They are the ones from the wrong neighborhood, the ones that have a hard time participating, they are the ones that nobody wants anything to do with. You've avoided them. You ignore them. Some of them you cannot stand to be around. We have our own little lepers' colony right here at school with members of our school community being treated as though they were unclean and infected.

The room was frozen in transgression and regret. I personally rued, cursed my busy life and all the missed opporuntunities to linger and be fully present with people who were integral to my childrens' lives, MY life. It was a long, suspended moment of brilliant clarity. There was not one breath of air in the room. Father was deeply in touch with his inadequacy as a human being and could paint his picture so everyone could see the pain and suffering we all experience at each other's hand. Yet-- yet, a gentle and loving man, he was patient and loved everyone, but most importantly, he loved himself. Love was what Joe Small was all about. There would be no redemption nor reconciliation with anyone in heaven or earth without love. And to save ourselves from further pain and suffering, Father Small reminded us that love must begin right here, right now, starting with yourself. And so this little man, the Giant, jumpstarted more than a few new relationships, new friendships, that cold February afternoon and ignited the sparks of courage that freed many a parent and child from the chains of isolation and loneliness. Joe Small was huge.

He repeated his grandslam on the graduation video, where he looked deeply into the camera and said:

"THIS IS THE TRUTH: you will never be free until you love, or try to love, every person you meet; and try to forgive every person that hurt you. Until that happens, you will never be free."

This is the thing with which he sent the graduates into the world. Less than two months later, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Less than five months later, he died. A king, a Giant, always much, much too big to fit in our hearts but himself with a heart so large, we all easily crowded in.

I think of him still. I remember him reading the latest letters his mother had written him at Mother's Day Mass, about getting his hair cut and keeping his room clean--and at this point, he was over 7o years old. If I can forgive my mom for silly things, really, you can cut your mom a little slack, too, he told the kids. I remember, vividly, all the mothers and children who went out arm in arm into the beautiful spring weekend that day. I also think of him in the cancer that viciously ravaged him so completely, so quickly. Somehow, he was never diminished and I think it's because he was so free. Would that I this day give those around me some of the same freedom, in love and complete understanding and forgiveness.

The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Chows have been quite interested in the Mother's Day flowers that began arriving last week. I think, truth be told, there's a little jealousy. They like to be first in all things and they truly believed that that gimondo tomato and the hanging geranium basket would put them on top. Well, you know how it is: on any given day....

Anyway, theses flowers here won the top prize as Best Mother's Day Flowers of 2005. Totally appropriate, too; don't you think?

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It was the year spring was really late. When I went to the hospital, the day was gray and overcast and the trees along Grand Avenue were still brushy and barren. I only remember flashes of dull color and vignettes of flat sky and trees because I was having contractions. It was the pain that was vivid. By this time, I had been in labor for 15 hours.

The day before was a Sunday, Mother's Day, and I had spent it working in the yard. I had got some used bricks from somewhere and I split each one in half with an ax and then made an edge for the long flower bed in front of the garage, the one with the yellow rhododendron. It was hard work, now it seems incredible that I was 37 weeks pregnant and chopping bricks, but I was not unable to do it; I was so pleased with the way the brick edging looked from the street. Hard work, then as now, was a keynote.

That evening I wondered if I had overdone it as my back began to hurt. I settled into a warm bath to sooth my aching back muscles but it didn't help much and in fact, the discomfort eased itself into pain that woke me up on and off all night. I had a busy week that week, cooking a large turkey and freezing it and making last minute provisions for the house and for my baby's father, in anticipation of being incapacitated for several weeks. I was becoming quite tired and hoped that I hadn't injured myself in a manner that would shortcut my final preparations for delivering my first baby.

I called my mother in the morning and told her that I had hurt my back and that the pain was substantial. She said, "You are in labor, silly." I was very tired and really scared, the pain was nothing like I had ever known, and it was very, very difficult for me to remain poised and calm on the telephone. My mother seized the opportunity to impress upon me how stupid it was to have been chopping bricks the day before. At length.

So this was my life that day, on May 12. In a split second, I decided to go to the hospital because I figured they could help me with whatever was going on. Problem was, with whatever was going on, I couldn't drive. So somehow, this part I don't remember, I got in touch with the baby's father, who was my husband at the time. He was at work, but he came to take me to the hospital. He, like my mother, seemed pretty certain I was going to have a baby. I wasn't so sure, because the classes I had taken had prepared me for labor pains in the pelvic area and this was a low back/tailbone/tush pain that was fearsome.

The hospital attendants didn't even stop at the emergency room, but took me to labor and delivery immediately. Imagine that. I fell into the waiting arms of the most wonderful people ever, the nurses on duty. They got me into bed, held my hands, fed me ice, smoothed my hair away from my face and sweetly explained what was really happening. I was dilated to 6 and was having contractions 10 minutes apart. And lucky, lucky girl, it was back labor. Some of it was tricky to gauge, because the labor was all in my back and because of the muscle distress in my back associated with the previous day's labor--in the flower beds. But they told me that without a doubt, I was going to be a mother that day. I couldn't believe my ears. What part of the previous nine months had I missed that would make that information such a revelation? Because it certainly was. Baby's daddy disappeared to the Park Inn Tavern where he spent the day. I went into the delivery room at two o'clock, where they told me I would be holding my baby in 30 minutes. TWO hours later, I finally delivered an exquisitely healthy, brightly alert baby boy who weighted 7 pounds, 9 ounces. I made it through the whole ordeal with no anesthetic; 22 hours of labor.

This was a sleep and eat baby. He ate like a horse and in those days, they let you feed them anything you wanted, practically. He loved a bath each morning and evening, and grew quickly and greatly. He shot up to the 99th percentile, height and weight, in the first three weeks. At his three week check up, Dr. Kapstafer said he would be 6'4".

He was pink and white, with pretty blue eyes. He had no hair, in fact, for many, many months he had no hair. But after a few more babies, I learned that this is what blond people do--hold off on growing hair until they have everyone's attention.

I spent three days in the hospital and at last, it was time to go home, back to my life and everything that awaited me there. The drive up Grand was beautiful. During the time I was in the hospital, spring had come. The trees had leafed out in that beautiful new-leaf, lime-green color and the sky was a azure blue, with the whole world bathed in a brilliant light. When we got to the park, I said, "Go really slow here, because I want to remember this."

And so I do. Every Mother's Day, I think especially about that little curly-headed blond boy who came from that pink and white baby, who ushered in the spring of 1975. That was the year my life changed forever and I began to do the most important work I would ever do. I still chop bricks now and then, but not without thinking about the next day. And when I long and yearn for spring, when the gray and dull brown wraps me up with no apparent escape, I think back to that one ride home with my new baby and all the technicolor times that lay ahead....

~for Ben with much, much love

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Chow Nation went down to the greenhouse last Friday and got a huge Mother's Day tomato. I said, "Chows! Aren't ya jumping the gun? Mother's Day isn't for another week!" They replied, "Grandma, mind your own business. Everything will be gone after this weekend; we are discriminating dogs and just any old thing will not do for us. Now act like a lady and say 'thank you'.

So thank you I said and began to puzzle where I would put this gimondo tomato with little green tomatoes on it already. Those darn Chows. They are awful nice.

And today, I got two other Mother's Day greetings. It's early! First, I was delighted to hear from my sweet goddaughter in Kennilworth, Illinois, who never forgets me and in fact, sent wonderful flowers to The 'Kan here for Easter when I was at the Cape. sigh. She is SO nice.

Here's the question? Why am I so lucky? This I do not know.

And here's the other Mother's Day greeting I received today; reminded me soooo much of ... well, gosh. It's just real familiar. You know, besides flowers, making me laugh is my all-time favorite gift.

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Another milestone, not to be dodged. My godson's graduation announcement arrived yesterday. I wrote him last year, when he was making an important retreat at Christmas time. I reprint the letter now, as I collect my thoughts and feelings to wish him farewell at graduation.

December 10. 2004
New York City, New York

Dear John,

I was in St. Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday and have been thinking about you off and on ever since. What an honor it has been for me to watch you grow up. It was such a source of pride to see you graduate from nine years of Catholic grade school with top honors and land at Gonzaga Prep as one of the top freshmen.

You have chosen to distinguish yourself at Prep with mighty pursuits, noble ambitions, and values that will always ring true. You are such a delight.

We love how you treat your sisters and your grandparents. We love to hear your mother’s voice when she talks about a conversation she had with you pertaining to this or that. And we absolutely loved looking across court all those years and seeing you right by your father’s side, studiously observing the Zags and honoring the your family's tradition as a quiet, but fierce fan. You have been and are such a calm and peaceful influence on all you meet. Another thing that I love about you is your sense of humor. Honestly? I just didn’t expect it to be that finely honed nor sophisticated at age 16. You just crack me up sometimes!

You are a gift to us all in so many ways. And we have been so lucky and blessed to be in your life….John, I wish I could give you some great advice on how to lead a blessed, grace-filled life. Unfortunately, your godmother is a Presbyterian who the Catholics took pity on and took in, much to her betterment. She means well but has a pretty shaky foundation on most things, including life!

But I can tell you that I love this time of year; the season of light and hope has always meant much to me and now that I am a member of The Real faith community, I know why. I was looking at the crèches in the cathedral gift shop and somehow I was thinking of you again. I wondered if we had ever discussed crèches and how smitten I am with them. Did you know I have a hundred or so of them from all over the world? I love them because they are expressions of pure adoration. They never fail to touch me deeply and often bring me to tears as I think about that story that is the bedrock of our beliefs. In the darkest, gloomiest time of the year, there will always be hope and light in our Lord. No matter what, our Lord will shine his light upon the rockiest and rut-filled path. No matter what.

As men and women for others, you need to know it will not always be easy and not always be a pain-free life. But we will never be alone. Our Father has promised us he will always be with us and we know that having each other in Him can make a really big difference, too. I will always count you as one of the true, biggest blessings of my life. Just know that my path is certainly much brighter because of your light and I look forward to what is to come with great hope because I know, I know, that the best is yet to come.

I will see Jon tomorrow and together we will go back to the Cathedral and light a candle and say a prayer for you, with a special petition to St. Michael, to help you with the battle against the dark. Be well and my special wish for you is that you will always be consoled by hope and light and that adoration will continue to be your watchword.

As Always,
Your Godmother

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Food Porn in The 'Kan

The Chows were talking today that changing my diet was the best thing that ever happened to them because Bellemaison in now never out of turkey hot dogs. Those Chows know and savor their delights.

It's been a good year here since I embarked upon a journey of healthiness and from time to time, some of the old habits still pop up, typically when The Christ Child makes a cameo in The 'Kan. When he does, we indulge in food porn. What? You're shocked? Oh grow up. We have huge appetites around here. We hike and bike and run and walk and lift and ski. But we love to eat. Herewith are some of the favorites; and if you're ever in The 'Kan, we'd LOVE to pleasure you, so pick one. It's yours, our treat.

Hooligan and Hannigan Corned Beef Sandwich with fries and ranch dressing O'Doherty's Irish Grill cooked by Tim O'Doherty himself, this is a feast of grease and salt

Orange rolls Spokane Club with a pat of real butter with each bite, why not schedule the angioplasty for right after?

Chicken, huumuus and feta pita Pita Pit Had to give 'em up for Lent but since Easter, I've had at least one every day

Calzone Pete's Pizza Ricotta, Pepperoni, mushroom and black olive with that crust. I don't think speaking of that crust is consistent with the decency standards set by Blogger.com.

Hash Browns and Gravy Frank's Diner Hard to know whether to smear it all over yourself and roll in it or to eat it.

Rare roast beef Spencer's Steakhouse Prepared to perfection; leaves you in a perfect stupor.

Gray Goose Martini, dirty Peacock Lounge chilled icy glass; flawless execution; utterly sublime.

Hot chicken caesar Salad Shenanigan's gives us a shudder of pleasure just to list it.

Pea Salad Clinkerdagger's cold, crunchy, carumba!

Grilled Chicken Burger w/tomato chutney Sawtooth Grill uniquely tasty and messy

Butterflied Coconut shrimp Luna served with orange marmalade, will spread anyone's wings and then leave 'em limp.

Arroz con Pollo Fiesta Mexicana gooey with cheese and sauce and pleasure.

Fish and Chips Dick's another veritable feast of salt and grease but with indescribable ambiance.

Teriyaki Chicken Mustard Seed sweet, salty, sensational.

Calamari Caesar Salad Twigs oh, yeah, this what I"m talking about! lunchgasm

Turkey Sandwich/popcorn Domini's the lunchtime coma-inducer of downtown.

Hot Dog Frank's Franks just like on the streets of Noo York Citty!

Onion rings w/tartar The Onion tangy dill pickle tartar with greasy crunch.

Ginger Creams Something Else Deli spicy cake and cream gives your mouth a rubdown.

But I've saved the best for last: cheeseburgers. We get those at JBelle's on The Patio, complete with lettuce and tomato, thick sliced onion and dill pickle and sesame seed bun. Food for the Gods!

The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

To Joy
~for my classmates~

When I was asked to speak at today's mass, The Baccalaureate Mass of the Class of 2004, Gongaza Preparatory School, it was suggested that I talk about the joy of my years at Prep. When I hear the word joy, what didn't come to mind was…AP calculus… the dreaded junior thesis paper…first high school dance… zero hour weight lifting… daily doubles in August…SATs, the ACT, SATIIs. No, I wasn't joyful when I remembered they closed the campus just as we were seniors! Nevertheless, once I thought about it, I was able to find joy in many of the memories we have made in the last four years.

For instance, whenever I hear the phrase "grace under pressure" I will always remember, with great joy, the time when we were seniors and the Gonzaga Prep football team played U-High. Hey, would it be an official Prep function if we didn't talk football? Anyway, it was brutal, the usual U-High/Prep game, and the Titans were out for blood because we beat them as juniors, when Marcus Miller kicked the winning field goal with 3 seconds left. In this particular game, we were on their 35 -- the ball was hiked, went into the backfield and things went south. The play came completely apart and we were fighting for our lives on the o-line. I knew things must be pretty bad in the backfield but I didn't want to face exactly how bad. Confusion reigned everywhere. Then, as #67 was attempting to break both my arm and two of my ribs, I see Dan Cronin, out of the corner of my eye, **25 yards** in front of me** running for his life! Through a complete improvisation, he broke though. He made the touchdown. It was pure joy. Grace under pressure….

Whenever I hear the word courage I will always remember, with great joy, our classmates who lost a parent while we were all here at Gonzaga Prep. Vanessa Anderson, Christina Iron, Wayne Phillips, Katie Mills, David Padagalskas and Jimmy Cameron stood lonely at their mothers' and their father's funerals, while we watched, helpless to say or do anything to console them. After the funerals, they each coped with their excruciating loss in their unique manners. And as each picked up their life and began to resume what are supposed to be " …the happiest years of (our) lives…" their courage was painful, yet joyful, to us all. We pray for them and for their parents in faith and hope, that we may all be together again soon. And we ask for courage for ourselves, that we may know greater joy.

Whenever I hear the word humility I will always remember, with great joy, the Gonzaga Prep Handicap Dances. Ancilla and The Knights sponsor these dances for the developmentally challenged people in the Spokane area; we invite them to a real mixer in our student center, complete with music, DJ, lighting and refreshments. Some come in wheel chairs, some come with attendants, some come with other members of their living community. But once the music starts and we all begin dancing, none of that matters. To be with these incredible people as they dance their hearts out, in pure joy, is quite a humbling experience. The music rises and spirits soar. The pettiness of our own lives comes into focus and our memories fall away. In the end, we are the people in need and the 'handicap' in the Handicap Dance refers to people like me, as we try to master our fate and control our universe. It is in joy and with great humility, that I have been privileged to meet and share time with new friends at the Gonzaga Prep Handicap Dances.

Whenever I hear the word humor, I will always remember, with great joy, the grace and the goofiness of the Class of 2004. Will you ever forget the speech Austin Beckford sang in the ASB elections? Grant Alford's immortal rendition of "To The Window, To The Wall" at the Senior Pilgrimage? David Stone's inimitable "talent" at Mr. Prep? Mr. Peepers? How about the time a certain unnamed senior girl campaigned furiously for everyone to mark all C's on the chemistry final, so that no one would fail? Who could ever forget "Doughnuts!"? Our humor has gotten us through many times. As Bill Cosby said, "If you can find humor in anything, you can survive it." And survive it we have. Even our Junior thesis paper and daily doubles in August. I hope we're still cracking each other up when we're 50 and sending our own kids off to college. God grant us the blessing of humor, for consolation, inspiration and peace in all things.

I have known great joy in being deeply blessed by the mentoring of a circle of generous people, whom I cite now: Monsignor Ribble, Father Goebel, Father JK Adams, Father Tully, rest in peace, Mr. Tom Deilke, Mr. Dave McKenna, Dr. Terry Kay Birrer, Mr. Brian Meier, Mr. Rick LaBelle, Mr. Joe Feryn, Mr. Neil Kempen, Mr. Paul Manfred, Mr. Barry Barfield, Mr. Dennis Dougherty, Mrs. Peggy McEwen, Mr. Nathan Pascoe, Mr. Mike Arte and two people that mean the world to me, my brother Ben, Class of '93 and my sister Angela, Class of '96. I see the face of God in each of these people's eyes and I will always owe a debt of gratitude to them as their love and prayers have helped me, humbled me, and heaped me with insight and strength that I did not know I had.

Not too long ago, I said to Ben and Angela, "What do you think the final word on Prep is?" They answered, with no hesitation, "community".

Community can mean the people here today and people associated with Prep; or it can mean the large or whole community in which we all live. Let's use both meanings. Since we have been at Gonzaga Prep, Prep students have collected and distributed 500,000 pounds of food to hungry people in the Spokane area. We are the only food drive in the area that actually delivers the food and visits the people we are serving. I am reminded of the woman who met us at her front door and began to cry. She said, "I was a Preppie and back when I did the food drive, if I ever thought I'd be the one needing food…." Although we have given much to many through the Food Drive, it is us who have taken the most away, because not only have we learned that life is very, very fragile but we have learned how to respond with love to God, to our neighbors, and to situations in all of the neighborhoods in the Spokane area.

St. Ignatius was clear in telling us that we should "…give and not count the cost." But as I plan to begin to study business in the fall, I think St. Ignatius wouldn't mind my pointing out the following: since we came to Gonzaga Prep in 2000, the Inland Northwest Blood Bank has collected 965 units of blood from the students of Gonzaga Prep. I understand that a unit of blood costs a patient about $350. You don't have to get a 5 on the AP Calc test to realize that in the last four years we have made a contribution to critically ill people in our community that has a retail value of $337,750.

What some at the church today might not realize is that every Gonzaga Prep graduate completes a minimum of 20 hours of community service. I'm deeply proud to announce that as a group, the Class of 2004 has completed at least 12,000 hours of community service. We have volunteered at nursing homes, hospitals, community and day care centers, schools, clinics, over 30 different agencies. At the state minimum wage combined with employer payroll tax costs, these 12,000 Class of 2004 hours represent another contribution to our community of $103,400.

Our service organizations such as Key Club, Ancilla and The Knights of The Leash not only sponsor events as The Handicap Dance and The Blood Drive but also sponsor recreation events at nursing and retirement homes such as casino nights. In this year alone, our senior year, Ancilla and The Knights have answered the call to work over 50 service projects. Our Key Club, one of whose founding members is my sister Angela, was awarded The Chase Youth Commission 2004 Chase Youth Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community. St. Margaret's Shelter, Second Harvest Food Bank, Head Start, United Way, Camp Sweyolakan and the Ronald McDonald House, to name a few, were the recipients of these outstanding contributions by our devoted Key Club members.

Our Lenten Service Projects give the entire school another opportunity to know and understand our larger community better. In 2004, we worked on a variety of projects in Hillyard, at Bemiss Elementary, at Logan School, at St. Al's school, at Second Harvest Food Bank and with Head Start.

We have read to little kids, comforted families of the critically injured, taught English as a second language, supervised cafeterias, assisted kids with homework, baked cookies, poured milk, served as teachers' aides, visited the elderly and physically disabled, played checkers with residents of convalescent homes, filed and served as lunch buddies to grade school kids, among other things. While we were actively participating in our respective community service efforts, I don't ever remember one of you turning to me and saying, "I'm feeling joyful here….". But I do remember after we retired to Dairy Queen for Blizzards or to Zip's for a tub of fries, there was a contentment that set in…a contentment that comes when you know what you know is real. And we knew what we had just done was real and that it mattered. I think it was a moment of true clarity, because on some level, we all felt a certain joy. It was the kind of joy that cemented our community with each other and helped us really understand our obligation of love, truth and service.

I haven't mentioned the joy of having parents who drove their cars a little longer, who wore their own shoes a little longer, who stretched the paychecks a little further, so that I, we, could attend Prep. But as a true confession, I must tell you that I am filled with great joy when I think of them. I haven't mentioned the fathers and brothers who coached and painted, set up and took down, hauled away and delivered, those fathers and brothers who did anything they were asked, quietly and with no fanfare, so that we would have a little more. I haven't mentioned the mothers, o those Catholic School mothers! The hot dog mothers, the library mothers, the room mothers, the car pool mothers, the scrip mothers, the auction mothers, the spaghetti mothers and yes, in their final triumph, the All Nighter Mothers, those mothers who gave all, with love and then love, so that we would know a little more. I haven't mentioned the teachers, counselors and administrators, who could have worked anywhere else for more pay, better benefits and fewer hassles. But they didn't. They wanted to teach and work in a place where men and women for others matter.

I am filled with a great, unrestrained joy at having been with all these people for this part of the journey and know the memory of the joy they imparted will sustain me further as the water gets deeper and my path becomes rockier.

From the time we were in pre-school, we have been told we are special. And we are special. When we hit grade school, we were instructed to follow the light. But when we got to high school, we knew that we had become the light.

Now, as special people, it's our charge to take the light into the world. We are now the voice of men and women for others. We must speak against and actively work to eradicate poverty, abuse, and neglect; we must seek to ease the plight of the sick and the addicted, the disenfranchised and the misfortunate. If there aren't programs and projects in place at the schools and offices and labors in which we are enrolled next year, we must make those programs and projects with the eye and the ear that we have grown here at Gonzaga Prep. We have seen each other step up with grace under pressure, with courage, with humility, with humor and triumph despite impossible odds. Not only do we know how to do this, we have seen each other do it. What goes on at Gonzaga Prep, must not stay at Gonzaga Prep.

Henceforth, I will always remember you with great, great joy and I salute you for the final time with words uniquely special to us:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
And lean not on thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him and
He will direct thy paths."

No matter where our paths take us, no matter the pitfalls and the misfortunes that beset us, no matter the trials and separations that tempt us, no matter the pain—no matter the joy—there is one thing that we will always have, that will always be ours, and ours alone:

We are

The Class of 2004

Gonzaga Preparatory School.

Call it all joy.

The first of the graduation announcements came in the mail today--Matthew sent a gorgeous announcement, a very handsome picture, and an invite to a graduation blast. And so it is with May. I have to admit, though, that the tears came quickly on this one. Matthew has been the consternation of his father and the sole beneficiary of his mother's advocacy efforts for quite some time--mainly to see that his father doesn't kill him before he's old enough to vote and that he graduates and goes on to distinguished academic careers similar to his sibs'. Ah, that youngest child; makes men of us all. But despite his best efforts, Matthew will graduate and uphold his family's educational traditions. And it's quite safe to note that Matthew had 479% more fun in high school than either of those sibs of his, combined.

So congratulations to our boy and best wishes for the path of all graduates to be rock-free, if only just at first. By the way, the most stirring graduation speech the Chows ever heard was given by a graduate of Matthew's school. Turns out it was given by one of the children that used to live here. We reprint it above, with great love and pride.

The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

gLib at Fenway



The 'Kan EWA