Adjustment & Normalcy

How does it feel when crisis hits? Or even if just the “unforeseen” circumstance that takes hold…? It can be unsettling, make us feel uncertain, not sure which way to go, what to do next.

This COVID-19 virus pandemic that’s running roughshod over everything just now, we might say that’s making everyone uneasy. We might say folks are panicky, even. Understood to a point; it’s a serious matter. Folks are getting sick; some folks are dying. It’s serious for sure.

My two cents so far on this situation, my two humble suggestions on how to cope and get through it go something like this…besides the obvious:

First, accept that you have to adjust your life; you have to adjust, your family has to adjust. Things are going to be different for a while; it’s not going to be normal. Even if you don’t get sick, the effect of the situation is going change everyone’s lives for a while.

That said, Second,

do what you can to maintain normal routines; do what you can to maintain a sense of the usual day-to-day; whatever that looks like. Like…?

Like, this week is Saint Patrick’s Day. Make corned beef and cabbage. Drink a couple beers; wear green!

If you’re working from home and you don’t normally do that, get up at the same time anyway. Follow your usual routine for the work day. And in whatever other manner things can stay normal, follow that tempo, follow those practices.

Do what you normally do during regular work days, when you’re working, and at home too.

Anything else? Be patient; be strong; be supportive to others that need a hand; be gentle on your expectations of yourself and others.

Be willing to adjust; maintain normalcy where you can. And help others do the same.

We’ll get through this thing. It’s going to be ok.

Lessons: COVID-19 Sequester

These are strange times. On top of everything else, we have a global pandemic that’s effecting dozens of countries, including the United Sates.

In our land, people are hunkering down, listening to the government, listening to experts. Schools are closed; public gatherings are suspended or cancelled, work places are also taking steps to create the “social distancing” mandated to slow the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

It’s a serious situation, so let’s remember the basics: take care of yourself; take care of those you love; look out for those in the community that need help.

Don’t panic.

Get what you need, maybe a little more, but don’t panic. We’re fortune in this country; there are plenty of the basics, the staple goods we need week to week. I was at the grocery on Saturday afternoon, and things were a bit sparse on some ailes.

If there’s a shortage it’s because of stresses on the supply chain, on the planned demand schedule now changed, not because there’s a fundamentally shortage.

Empty shelves seem a bit extreme.

Don’t panic.

As I sat in the Costco parking lot later thinking about this, it started to rain. We haven’t had rain in a long while. In the midst of this acute situation, something to be thankful for: the rain.

Let’s be thankful for the resources we have available to us; let’s take care of each other; let’s not panic. This too shall pass. We all need to work together. Let’s get through it together.

Charter Night: Celebrating Lionism

“Charter Night” is the annual gathering (usually an evening/dinner event) when and where a Lions club celebrates its founding and work.

I belong to a club in my community. Here’s a little something about my humble club, one of 46,000 in more than 200 countries around the world.

51 years.  FIFTY ONE YEARS. We’ve been around quite a while.


The Cupertino DeAnza Lions Club was established in 1969. 


Since that time and to this day, the primary focus of our club has been service. The primary draw of our club for new members has been service. The hook that keeps us all going is service.


And the bonus, the icing on the cake for all these years of service, what has it been?


It’s been the fellowship, the friendships that we have established and strengthened and enjoyed these many years; that fellowship has sustained us and energized us and resulted in service projects and charity work attending to those in need both near and far for decades.

These dual traits are the essence of Lionism:  Serving those in need, and enjoying fellowship along the way. 


As we celebrate and continue the work of the DeAnza Lions, let us keep these twin goals in mind, and also the wise words of our current International President, Dr. Jung-Yul Choi framed in the initiatives he defined this year.

President Choi’s programs and initiatives will focus on four key elements of Lions International that are essential to our mission of service.

  1. Strengthening membership through diversity
  2. Expanding service impact globally
  3. Supporting our global foundation, LCIF
  4. Empowering every Lion as a leader

Let us continue. Let us build on that motto established more than one hundred years ago when Lionism was first established:

WE SERVE.

Hanging with Tax Collectors

Back in the day, some two thousand years ago in the ancient world, tax collectors were considered among the least desirable people in Jewish society.  I suspect it was on a whole lot worse than how we think of IRS folks these days.

The story goes, they were like prostitutes; unscrupulous, greedy and corrupt, even vile as cooperating with the Roman occupiers in the land.

And yet they were the very people Jesus chose to hang out with. The undesirables, those of questionable character, in the shadows, those who struggled most, these people who needed him most, they were his cornerstone. He even called a tax collector named Levi (Matthew) to be one of his early companions, one of the  twelve. And he changed the people he socialized and worked with. He changed them for the better. He helped them see a new way.

Amen to that. Amen to helping change those around us for the better. AMEN. 


“Let Freedom Ring…”

Image from Google’s Home Page on MLK Day, 2020

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke these words on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. Tens of thousands gathered to participate in expressions of dissatisfaction with a lack of racial inequality in society here in the United States.

Fifty-seven years later, inequality still exists. In fact, the ugly and vile voice of racism seems louder to me now in this country than I’ve heard it in the past. King’s words ring true today as they did more than a half century ago. King’s call to action is as important and critical to our nation and our democracy’s well-being as it was then too.

Let’s remember King, and just as important, let’s remember the importance of his vision for America.

His words still ring true; his critique no less true today in many ways.

Here is the full text to the “I Have A Dream” speech:

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” “

MLK, Washington D.C., 28 August, 1963

Lyrics Post: “Territories” by RUSH

A bonus second lyrics post today, another from RUSH, another tribute to Drummer and Lyricist, Neil Peart, who passed away last week.

These lyrics are from the sam period, same album that “The Big Money” was recorded. The words spoke to me in a special way at the time, when my sense of local and global was still forming. And the words still speak to me today.

Territories”

I see the Middle Kingdom between Heaven and Earth
Like the Chinese call the country of their birth
We all figure that our homes are set above
Other people than the ones we know and love
In every place with a name
They play the same territorial game
Hiding behind the lines
Sending up warning signs

The whole wide world
An endless universe
Yet we keep looking through
The eyeglass in reverse
Don’t feed the people
But we feed the machines
Can’t really feel
What international means
In different circles, we keep holding our ground
Indifferent circles, we keep spinning round and round

We see so many tribes overrun and undermined
While their invaders dream of lands they’ve left behind
Better people… better food… and better beer…
Why move around the world when Eden was so near?
The bosses get talking so tough
And if that wasn’t evil enough
We get the drunken and passionate pride
Of the citizens along for the ride

They shoot without shame
In the name of a piece of dirt
For a change of accent
Or the color of your shirt
Better the pride that resides
In a citizen of the world
Than the pride that divides
When a colorful rag is unfurled

Guest Post: Brother Tim, Witness Work In Kolkata

It’s the evening in Kolkata 🇮🇳 while most of America 🇺🇸 sleeps. I’m trying to process another epic day on top of every other epic day serving the sickest of the poorest of the poor of the harsh streets of Kolkata.

Most of you know I can muster words for just about anything. However, this vexing yet holy place is different, far different than anything I could ever explain. The magnitude of physical and emotional suffering are hard to believe even though I am witnessing it firsthand on a daily basis

A splendid and heroic French nurse, probably in her early 60’s, gently approached me this morning while I was helping one of the several young heroic Indian doctors in the men’s infirmary. She said, “It’s quite difficult isn’t it?” I said, “Oui, Madame, it’s very difficult. I described this place as a ‘poverty war zone’ to my wife.” She replied, “I think it’s worse than a war zone.” (And, she surely knows because she has undoubtedly served in other hard places in this often cruel world.) She then placed her angelic hand with the greatest of care and strength on my left shoulder and looked kindly into my eyes. We both had tears welling up as she returned to her patient with the worm infested foot that was missing most of every toe.

Heartened and renewed by her truly Marian love, I redoubled my focus on “Saladine,” a handsome yet aged man of the streets. He looked my age which means he was probably 10 to 15 years younger because Kolkata laid bare does that to street people. Brutally short, my dear sweet new Indian friend had NO SKIN covering 98% of his emaciated left leg when the blood soaked bandages were removed. (Imagine Saint Bartholomew.) Saladine did not cry out in pain during this torturous treatment and everyone would have understood if he did. His physical pain and emotional anguish were exponentially pronounced because he looked up to me throughout with deep brotherly longing as manly tears quietly dripped from his eyes. So, I did my humble best as a newfound anesthesiologist of Jesus Christ to mitigate his suffering with brotherly love in my eyes, a manly hold of his left hand and the gentle yet strong caress of his weary head with my sometimes quivering right hand.

When the amazing young Indian doctor had cleaned Saladine’s entire left leg of the scourge he could and bandaged it fully for the X number of days straight, we helped this dear sweet broken brother sit up ever so gently as we tried to bestow dignity on him. Saladine made a deep and beautiful prayer gesture to me noting his warm gratitude. He then wrapped his weary arms around me and wept, and wept, and wept. It took every ounce of strength I had as a Kolkata-tested man to be strong for him then. Thankfully, tears are finally streaming down my face now thereby helping clear my heartbroken multi-hour daze.

I pray for you from Kolkata. Please, oh please, pray for these destitute yet majestic Indian people I am so privileged to serve.

God woke me early today, so I arrived early at the Missionaries of Charity Home of Nirmal Hriday (“Pure Heart”). The Sisters call it “Mother’s first love” since it was her very first home in Kolkata 🇮🇳. It’s the very home for the dying destitute that vaulted the 80 to 90 pound Saint to the world stage. Mother Teresa never sought world acclaim yet she still virtuously used it to promote God’s Absolute Truths, particularly the sanctity of life from womb to death. Thanks be to God. Thanks for her witness!!

After a brief visit that I’ll describe later, I went to the men’s infirmary and immediately beheld why God woke me early. On the lone medical procedure table was my new treasured friend from yesterday, dear Saladine. He was laying there. His skinless leg was in full horrific view. Of course, he was grimacing because even the small oscillating fan harshly agitated every exposed nerve on his left leg. When he saw me, he reached out to me and lovingly cried “Baba,” an Indian term of endearment.(Geez, I love this beautiful broken soul!!) I scurried over to him as his eyes teared anew as if my arrival had just answered his prayers. He called me “Baba” again, then made a reverent clasping off his hands in prayer. So I pulled out my Holy Rosary like yesterday, starting praying over him and he warmly smiled though his persistent grimaces. (Let’s pause for a second one. Look down at your left leg and picture it without skin. Let’s try to fathom how excruciatingly painful that must feel. 🤯🤬😭) Saladine, stud that he is, never cried out loud. He suffered with the most heroic heartbroken silence I have ever beheld. Every time he called me “Baba” I felt the total enormity and warmth of truly unconditional love and trust.

After we had tended to Saladine, my other wonderful friend Baakraan appeared to have his dressings changed. I cannot recall if I previously shared about Baakraan, my dear Muslim friend. In short, the multiple large leg gashes that he has on both his legs are incomprehensible. I can see his right calf muscle. I can see the tendons behind his right kneecap. The bottom of his left kneecap is slightly visible through his deep open wound quite similar to Jesus Christ on the Holy Cross. There’s more physical horro for Baakraan, but I’ll stop there. I have been blessed to help the doctors clean and redress Baakraan’s full length lower leg bandages a few days now. The beautiful Sisters and equally heroic medical staff know to have me involved when it’s Baakraan’s turn in the infirmary due to miraculous brotherly bond. Heck, even Baakraan called me “Baba” today and I had to hold back tears when he did. The TRUE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE of this vexing yet holy place is surely a taste of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you, Saint Teresa of the Kolkata Gutters for calling me here!!!!!!!

After Baakraan was fully bandaged, the young staff rolled in “Mishnu.” That’s what I call my favorite Bengali. Surely Mishnu must know I don’t speak Bengali by now. But he still insists on saying the most amazing happy Bengali stuff to me that I will ever hear. My man Mishnu is pure joy in all his brokenness. The guy lights up when he sees me and starts jabbering with so much joy I’m tearing up as I type this. But Mishnu is from the unforgiving streets of Kolkata. He’s abjectly destitute. He’s riddled with infection. His right foot only has a big toe. The rest of his foot must have been chewed up and the fog by an Indian “land shark” 🦈. That’s how horrible it looks. Amazingly though (and I’m now chuckling with immense admiration), in between Mishnu’s rightful grimaces due to his ghastly mangled foot, he joyfully tells me what can only be his Bengali life story. I wish I could take video of these joyful outbursts, so you could see the miraculous nature of it. Geez, Kolkata is a such a conundrum.

Mishnu also called me “Baba” today which also welled tears in my eyes. A few of the other men I served today did so as well. It’s as if they collectively assessed me through the week to determine whether or not I warranted such respect and affection. It’s arguably one of the most humbling experiences of my life to be so trusted by broken men who for any number of years have probably not trusted anyone. Mind you, I’m not their only “Baba.” There are more and certainly more worthy: Igor from Siberia 🇷🇺 who teaches anthropology in Germany 🇩🇪; Javier from Spain 🇪🇸 who is wiry and 💪🏻 but gentle as they come; the amazing Christian ✝️ men from China 🇨🇳; and Craig from New Zealand 🇳🇿 who’s come for 11 years straight for three to 6 months at a time. #LegendaryMen #SaintJosephs

God not only woke me early today, He blessed me with His amazing and miraculous Peace. I had calm, serenity, and solace today that has been tough to find, let alone secure and embed my week here. When I walked into Mother’s original house today, I was warmly greeted by the legendary Sister Gina who now occupies Mother Teresa’s original desk. She was with the young Indian doctor that I have often assisted in the men’s infirmary, the MASH Unit for the Kolkata poverty war zone. We had a beautiful, heartwarming exchange that only lasted minutes but will be with me forever. It made seeing Saladine‘s raw left leg so manageable and his cry of “Baba” so much more wonderful. Thanks be to God. Thanks be to Saint Mother Teresa. Thanks to be all the heroes that serve at her 50 homes. Blessed are the poor for the Kingdom of God is rightfully and deservedly theirs.