At nighttime, I often sing the Song of Simeon in my head... A prayer of hope fulfilled and of faith.
"Now Lord, you can let your servant go in peace, according to your word. For my eyes have seen your saving deed, which you have set before all men: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."
We have a loving Father who cares about us, who cares for us.
Having heard and read about the Gosnell trial and the atrocious details, and seeing the report on the news last night as a jury deliberates this case, I am wondering how we can continue to deny that there is something wrong in our national thinking about the abortion issue. Like so many, I am wondering how this case will be determined and what it reveals about the American psyche.
Here, in this photo, behind the magnolias, is a depiction of the Resurrected Christ. Christ, who is our Good Shepherd, who seeks out the lamb who is lost, who has strayed. Sometimes we know we are lost or have wandered, and other times we are oblivious. This seems to be our current condition. I have no doubt that many who support abortion, do so with good intentions. However, an act that is inherently in error, cannot be correct, whatever the end may be. Abortion is not a solution, and can never be seen that way.
Our Creative Father can help bring good from our mistakes, though. Even the most egregious. This is my hope, and my prayer.
I took this photo last night on my way home from work. The St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church magnolia is probably the biggest one in the area. It's certainly one of the most beautiful.
Blackbirds perch along the roofline of this vine covered barn. From there they see the landscape from a different perspective than I do. They see the cattails and tractors, but from their position, they see the locations of things with better understanding and clarity, while I rely on my very limited depth perception.
It was a beautiful morning when I awoke on Saturday, and I lay in bed admiring the sunshine that filtered through the curtains. The sun was still low in the sky.
I was filled with contentment after a great evening the night before with my daughter, who was visiting from the west coast. Dinner at our local favorite restaurant, followed by a movie, and then coffee shop conversation. So many miles melt away. Being together allows us to do simple tasks, and have conversations about both the mundane and meaningful.
The west coast is so very far away. You can't even see it from here! At least not clearly! Time with my family is the best. It is where I feel most myself, most at ease, and where I can explore ideas and gain so much from their learning, too. We are grateful that she made the effort to come back to Michigan to visit her sister and family. We know she has work and commitments far away. But being together is wonderful.
And if I position myself from a good vantage point, just the right vantage point, I can see we are not so far apart. Indeed.
I slept in this morning to catch up a little after working a long stretch of days. I feel so much better with the extra sleep!!
The sun is shining and the temperature warming up this morning, my birthday. A gift for certain! How blessed I am!
Here is my 2013 Litany:
Today, I am grateful for so many gifts.
I am grateful for life, for my parents and family and all the instruction I received from them as I grew up, and for the earliest sense of identity and belonging they gave me.
I am grateful for the influence of the Catholic Church in my early years, for the sacraments of Batpism, Penance and Communion, all before I was 7 years old, and Confirmation a few years later! I loved that I could slip away on my bike and go to our church during the summer to sit quietly by myself in that holy place and pray.
I am grateful for the friends I had in elementary school and for the acceptance I experienced in their company. I am grateful for having a "best" friend in those early years, and for shared secrets and adventures, and a neighborhood "gang" with whom we explored the world! Our "gang's"adventures rivaled any of those in The Little Rascals! (Younger people may need to look up the reference.)
I am grateful for the move our family made to another town, even though it was painful at the time, and for the new friends I made in middle school and high school-- friends that are dear to me now.
I'm grateful for Young Life, and the encouragement I received to read scripture and to pray together with my peers. I am grateful for the awkwardness I felt in high school, which reminds me how awkward we often still feel as adults, and helps me find empathy. I'm grateful for my high school teachers. And I'm grateful for the difficulties and confusion I experienced during those years, for they brought lessons and insights that are with me still.
I'm grateful that my fellow classmates were spared going to the Vietnam War, although the young men had draft numbers, and some were nearly called. I'm grateful that the Vietnam War taught us to honor our young military people who continue to make sacrifices for our country because they are asked to do so, and not because they understand all the political and national interests that motivate our leaders.
I'm grateful for the gift of becoming a mother, three times! I'm grateful for the chance to learn that I could love someone else so deeply that my own life would seem unimportant in comparison I am grateful for the chance I had to hold young babies in my arms for hours, and to reassure them over and over again that they were loved no matter what, and then, over years, to confirm that no matter what our circumstances, we would always be for one another. I am grateful that I could teach my children, and thereby teach myself, what is important in life. And I am grateful to have lived to see my children's children. So grateful.
I am grateful for the humility I have learned through my mistakes and the consequences we must accept for our actions.
I am grateful for the love of my husband and his blindness to my faults.
I am grateful for my good health, not something to be taken for granted.
I am grateful for meaningful work and for having everything I need.
I am grateful that we live in a country that values independence and freedom, and that so many of my fellow citizens are trying to work together to preserve the lives and God-given rights of all persons, regardless of age, race, or religion, and to ensure that our homeland is secure from lawless acts no matter how great or small.
I am grateful for the years I have lived and the ones I may have left to live. I am grateful to you, and all that makes you who you are.
I feel so blessed, like a tree, planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in due season.
As you can see, I already have all the gifts I could ever need or want. Today, I am simply grateful.
In the agricultural world, harvest is a time of reaping, and a good harvest is often the sign of good planning and hard work. The same holds true in other industries, too. Success is often the result of our good efforts and hard work, and certainly comes very little to those who do not make an effort. We know that we must work if we want results. But it is not a good idea to take all the credit, or assume that we control our fate. We know that circumstances must fall into place to make our efforts worthwhile. We know that "luck" often plays a big role in the process.
When things are going well, it is easy to rely on our own judgement and to accept that our good fortune is the result of our own cleverness. When we face difficulty, we are more apt to cry out for assistance. But it is so important in times of prosperity to remain humble and accept our circumstances as the result of God's providence and mercy. So much of life is hidden from us. To remain faithful in our trust, no matter if we abase or abound, is the key to calm and peace.
We are exhorted to remember and be grateful through the words of Moses:
"Take heed, lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his ordinances and statutes...
lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built excellent houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground when there was not water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware, lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.' You shall remember the Lord your God for it is he who gives you power to get wealth; that he may confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as at this day."
Last night we had a wonderful opportunity to visit with old friends. I had been asked to make some remarks to our class. Afterwards, people asked if I would post the text somewhere, so here it is. I hope you enjoy the a short trip to the past, and back again. :-)
GBHS Class of 1972 40th Reunion: Remarks by Lea Higgins McNulty, August 11, 2012.
I look around at all of us here tonight and I'm so very happy to be among you. It's wonderful to see your faces and renew our friendships. When Mark Zuckerberg created his Facebook enterprise, I don't think he imagined how those of us in our generation would find it such a wonderful tool to stay connected.
I'm also a little humbled by being asked to make some remarks tonight. I bet you didn't see that coming 40 years ago! There are probably some of you who never knew me in high school. For this, I am grateful! When I think of myself in the 1970s, I do so with a lot of cringing. I recall things I said, and just the general angst and insecurity that ridded a tall and lanky high school girl. And many of you were far more focused in school than I was! So often since I left you here, I have thought how much better it would have been had I paid more attention in class.
Looking back on our years at Grand Blanc, I feel nostalgia for days that seem simpler. Isn't that what each generation does? Isn't that what each generation says to the next? "Life was simpler then!" I now recognize that the days and the times in the past were not simpler at all. It was just my perspective in those days, and my relative lack of responsibility at the time that makes it seem so.
Yet there are things from those days that I do miss... I'm sure you feel the same. Mostly, I miss friends and family members who are gone from us now. And I miss the look of things. And I sure miss being in an 18 year old body! But there are many things I don't miss, and I don't think I'd go back and re-do high school.
My family moved to Grand Blanc from Grand Rapids just before we began Junior High. We only lived in Grand Blanc for 6 or 7 years and my parents then returned to Grand Rapids. I was the only one in my family who went through Jr. High and High School at Grand Blanc, and the only one who still lives in Michigan now. Call it destiny or whatever, it seemed that I was to be part of you, part of our class of 1972 at GBHS.
40 years ago, we were all in various stages of insecurity, self-awareness, with unknown potentials. We were a risky bet for sure, and the tail end of the baby boomers, we were ready to "do our thing". For some of us, our futures may have seemed exciting and promising, and to others of us, the future may have felt overwhelming and uncertain. No matter how different we were from each other at the time, we were all young, inexperienced, and the thing we shared in common was our place in time.
So what was 1972?
Well, as far as the Economy goes:
• The average cost of a gallon of gas was 36¢. But cars only got 13.5 miles/gal, so maybe it's a wash.
• The average income per family in the US had risen to almost $12,000.
But if you were African American, the average income per family was closer to $7,000 [$6,800]
And if you were a woman working full time all year, your average income was only $6,000.
• A pair of jeans cost $12
• You could get a cup of coffee for about 10¢
• The Dow Jones closed above 1000 for the first time in history, and averaged 1020
• Inflation was 3.27%
What about Pop Culture?
We didn't have cell phones, personal computers, answering machines, cassette tapes, CDs, or iPods.
In fact, the first pocket calculators came out in 1972 and cost well over $100. LED was new!
Our music was Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Don Mclean, Arlo Guthrie, Elton John, the Eagles, The Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Cream.
Nightly TV shows included Gunsmoke, Adam 12, Marcus Welby, and a host of variety shows like Paul Lynde, Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, Laugh-In, and Dean Martin.
We listened to records, or 8-track tapes, or reel to reel tape recorders, and wrote on typewriters, if we were lucky enough to have one.
People wore polyester jump suits, double knit pant suits and were fashionable carrying a clear plastic bubble umbrella that would keep you covered while allowing you to see through it!
The Volkswagen Beetle became the most popular car in history, easily spotted on the road and giving acceptable outlets for our aggression with the "Pee Wee Punch"
The new movies, which have become iconic now, were:
Dirty Harry, Clockwork Orange, and The Godfather.
On the World Scene:
• Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky to become the World Chess Champion
• The largest diamond was mined in Sierra Leone: The Star of Leone, weighing nearly 970 carats!
• Ceylon became an independent republic and changed its named to Sri Lanka
• Idi Amin took control of British firms and interests in Uganda and began his reign of terror
• In 1972 there were major earthquakes in Bingol, Turkey, Ghir, Iraq, and Managua, Nicaragua, leaving thousands dead and thousands more, homeless
• Hurricane Agnes blew through in June of that year killing 117 in the NY and PA region, [particularly in Elmira and Wilkes-Barre]
• It was also the year of the infamous airplane crash in the Andes, where an Uruguayan chartered plane carrying a rugby team, crashed in the mountains in October and were not rescued for 72 days; the story, as you know, prompted books and movies
• The Olympics took place in Munich, Germany, where Mark Spitz won a record breaking 7 Gold Medals, but the year also, where arguably the greatest Olympic tragedy occurred. This was the year of the Munich Massacre, when on Sept 5, Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village and the residences of the Israeli athletes, and took hostages. The world looked on in horror as 11 Israeli athletes were killed in a 23 hour standoff and an ineffective rescue attempt.
On the National Scene:
• We were in the middle of space exploration. In 1969 we witnessed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon. Anything seemed possible!
• In 1972 the Space Shuttle program was launched.
40 years later, today, we're watching as images from Mars are sent from the land rover, "Curiosity"!
• Environmental issues were at the forefront of our minds. We saw the first Earth Day during our high school years, and in 1972 the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments went into effect.
• Our childhood was peppered with fears of a foreign attack. We grew up through the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis with subsequent concerns about Soviet missile expansion in Cuba
• We saw the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert Kennedy.
• We felt the conflict of the Vietnam war; the young men of our class registered for the draft in our senior year. We watched, in the nightly news, reports of the havoc the war brought on families and our nation. In August of 1972 the last ground troops were pulled out of Vietnam.
• We lived through what is now called the "Nixon Era".
President Richard Nixon was in office from 1968 through 1974.
- In 1972, he initiated détente and the anti-ballistic missile treaty with the Soviet Union.
- He helped to enforce desegregation in the Southern schools.
- He imposed wage and price controls in an effort to control inflation, and
- He travelled to China, opening up communications between our two nations after 22 years of hostilities.
- In 1972, President Nixon ran for a second term against SD Gov. George McGovern, where McGovern lost in a landslide.
• But sadly, we watched as the highest office in the land unravelled before our eyes.
The Watergate Investigation was broadcast on TV day after day... piecing together the events around 5 White House operatives who had been arrested for burglarizing the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and the subsequent coverup which led to the House Judiciary Committee approving the Articles of Impeachment in July 1974. President Nixon resigned in shame in August of 1974 to avoid formal impeachment.
That was then. Here we are in 2012. There is a reason we are still here. Look what 40 years of effort can do! Look what we've done.
Some of us have achieved awards and recognition for accomplishments. Some of us, with innovative thinking, have changed the way work gets done. We've spent years in the workplace, and years in our homes. We've created the next generation! We have learned, taught, and given from what we've received. Along the way, we've changed and grown, and learned the importance of our connections with each other. We have wisdom we didn't have 40 years ago!
For the past 20 years, I've worked with cancer patients. The thing I love about my job is that I've been blessed with perspective. My troubles, and I've had my share, are always balanced with the fact that I am still here, still a participant in life. A couple of years ago, I made the decision to really see what is good in this world, and focus on it. And the result has been that I see and record beauty every day; more than I can share. The little pictures I post on Facebook and elsewhere, are mostly to serve as reminders to me of just how blessed I am to be here.
So who is the class of 1972? We are the product of our generation. We are the product of our times. We didn't inherit a perfect world, and we won't leave a perfect world behind. But we hope to leave it a little better just for our having been here. The fact that we are still here is testament that there is more to be done.
I'd like to leave you with a couple quotes from Mother Teresa, who is a personal hero of mine:
"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today..." "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
Life isn't perfect and Scott Peck told us "Life is difficult" in his book The Road Less Travelled. Even so, many of us can admit that there are moments that can feel nearly perfect, where we are content and at peace, if we are open to seeing them, if we are willing to create them.
As these Autumn days become shorter and the weather turns more chill, the world may seem darker and dreary at times and my Irish disposition drifts toward melancholy, often despite my effort. What great timing to celebrate Thanksgiving at just this moment! Harvest: the time when we reap the fruits of our labors! This is a time when the world is wrapped in a beauty no one could have anticipated!
Recounting the very real circumstances of our lives today and the blessings we currently enjoy, as well as those blessings from our past, may serve as a quick remedy for self-concern. I have so many things for which I can be grateful this year, not the least of them is my health and the health of my family. Truly we are fortunate.
And yet I have lost good friends, this year, too. Some have endured long illness. Others slipped suddenly from us. I know people who are unemployed and discouraged, some in my own family. I know those who are dealing with serious relationship problems and in pain. And, of course, I know people who are undergoing difficult medical treatments hoping for a cure for cancer. Each of us can recount stories of those who have lost loved ones to war, accidents, or even crimes of violence. The world is not an easy place to be.
We know that life is difficult. We know that it is wrought with emotional hurts and sorrows. This is why we gather together and recount our blessings. You are a blessing to me, and I must be a blessing to you. Our Faith tells us this, and our hearts confirm it!
I really *am* grateful this year. And I pray for all of my family, and for those friends whom I know well or only a little, and for any of you who read this, too.
I pray that we can encounter that place within us that is loving and courageous. That we can hear that Voice that speaks to us reassuringly. May each of us, inspired and armed with our own sense of duty, reach out and take the hands of those around us, and give them something to be grateful for this year and in the future.
The paths we tread are littered with sorrows but leading to glory.
I'm a wife and a mother. I work more than full time as a nurse practitioner with cancer patients which is gratifying on many levels and sad and frustrating on a few. I love my job as much as I love my time off!
I'm average and extraordinary, just as you are. I've experienced profound failures, significant disappointments, had a few successes, and been the recipient of a lot of mercy. I try to maintain a correct perspective on what's important in life, and that requires reflection. My friendly exterior might mislead you to regard me as an extrovert, but I am comfortable with, and require, a considerable amount of time alone. I need that balance.
My Catholic faith is very important to me, and while I'm no theologian, I believe my faith informs my outlook and values. That is my intention. In a world that seems more and more drawn to the trivial or the brash, I look for inspiration from the absolute truth that God was, is, and is to come. Knowing Him is my ultimate destiny.