Have You Had Your Break Today?

Sometimes Mondays are like this: You’re on your skateboard, and you cut in front of the outgoing cars in the McDonald’s drive-through, so you can show them your jumpy trick. So you do your jumpy trick, but you’ve neglected to fold over the top of your McDonald’s bag. And all six burgers that you bought for your peeps fly out of the bag, and land in the driveway, in front of the cars. There are three of them. And at least one of them contains a person who will write about you on her blog. Look at it this way, Monday skateboard dude: We’re all human–and in so many ways, that means we’re absolutely priceless.

(Originally posted November 4, 2013)

Civilization

I just read the ancient Egyptian Precepts of Ptah-Hotep. I love them. Basically, they say this: Don’t be grouchy. Try to avoid the people who make you grouchy. Don’t interrupt the people who ask you for help. Don’t pick fights with your neighbors. When you go to their houses, don’t make passes at the ladies. Think a lot, but say a little. Be gentle. Don’t distract a worker. Learn a lot. And finally, make your wife more content than any of the other ladies she knows.

(Originally posted July 18, 2013)

Credit to the Collar

So this is cool: I’m grading finals in the local Panera. A few minutes ago, I realized I needed to buy a calculator at the next-door Dollar Store. Because most of us Iowa Cityzens at least recognize one another, I decided to take the risk, and leave my computer etc. while I made the short trip. It turns out that while I was gone, the woman next to me also left her computer for an errand. Now: when I got back to our table, there were two abandoned computers–and a priest. He’d just set up camp right next to us, sipping his coffee, reading his paper. Maybe this was a coincidence. Or maybe he was being, well, godly.

(Originally posted July 1, 2013)

Humanity

When my parents were in college, they had an F5 destroy much of their campus in Madison, Indiana. In the aftermath, patients at the local mental hospital helped with the recovery. During that time, the doctors noticed a surge in the patients’ peace of mind. The helpers had a purpose; they could do immediate good. Disasters are terrible; there is no doubt. But it seems that there is little limit to how much helping helps.

(May 21, 2013)

Civility

In Mysteries of the Middle Ages, Thomas Cahill talks about St. Francis, who, during the Fifth Crusade, visited the sultan, al-Malik al-Kamil, with whom the crusaders were currently at war. “Francis was admitted to the august presence of the sultan himself and spoke to him of Christ, who was after all Francis’s only subject. The attempt to proselytize a Muslim would have been cause for on-the-spot decapitation, but Kamil was a wise and moderate man who was deeply impressed by Francis’s courage and sincerity and invited him to stay for a week of serious conversation. Francis, in his turn, was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of the Muslims, especially by their fivefold daily call to prayer–and it is quite possible that the thrice-daily recitation of the Angelus [a prayer recited in monasteries]… was precipitated by the impression made on Francis by the repeated call of the muezzin.” Francis returned to his camp, and told the Vatican that the sultan would agree to peace, if the Vatican was equally willing. The Vatican was not.

(Originally posted March 1, 2013)

Humanity

They’re closing the old grocery store on my parents’ end of St. Petersburg, Florida. One employee, Tyrone, is a twenty-something guy who’s got some cognitive and physical difficulties. He chats with my mom whenever he bags her groceries. Yesterday, she told him goodbye, and he threw his arms around her and wept.

(Originally posted Feb. 1, 2013)