Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Strangers, Speakers and Spectacles

Howdy!  We are back from a whirlwind visit to Houston to help celebrate our first daughter's graduation from the University of St. Thomas.  Fortunately, we weren't "treated" to any diatribes similar to BO's at Notre Dame!  The commencement speaker was a bit on the pc side with regard to his ideas, but not over the top.

Some comments I've heard recently (both here in London, and along our travels) that I'd like to share.  If for no other reason, than I'd like to be able to look back at them later on.

At the airport, "Attention.  Please do not accept parcels from strangers who you do not know well."

That one caused me to pause, and raise an eyebrow.  Isn't the definition of "stranger" someone you don't know at all?  How can a person be a stranger if you know them "well?"  For that matter who in their right mind would accept a parcel from someone at an airport knowing how much most in charge are actually eagerly looking forward to exercising their "right to protect us?"  Just too funny,in a sad sorta way.

Friday evening we attended the UST Baccalaureate Mass at the new Co-Cathedral.  Daniel Cardinal DiNardo presided and gave a (as usual) stirring homily.   He began by first congratulating those who were graduating with honors.  Then, "And some of you are graduating by the skin of your teeth.  Congratulations!"  Too right, Cardinal.  I was one of those "by the skin of my teeth."  The entire Mass was beautifully planned, and executed.  The music was incredible!  With a definitely sacred sense of humor the recessional hymn was "The Strife is Over."

The post-Baccalaureate Mass reception at UST was outside on campus, and pleasant.  A nice jazz band playing in the background, and plenty of tables with food and visiting.  The area we sat in though, was handicapped in the illumination department.  A few items my brain interpreted differently than my mouth caused some interesting contrasts!  We found out that in earlier years they actually provided a sit down meal.  Must be cost cutting measures that help explain the rise in tuition next fall!  Perhaps the next graduation we'll be invited to brown bag it.

I take back all I said about Texans not being rude.  Or perhaps, those who were, aren't from Texas but only visiting like we were.   But for those two ladies at the dessert/coffee table all I can say is you would have done well at the Bioferia in Peru on Saturday mornings among the maids!

The usher at Reliant Arena in our seating section was so patient.  She would repeatedly need to tell folks they couldn't stand in the aisles to take pictures, but could stand by the wall.  One particular couple thought all they had to do was nod, smile, stand where she directed for a few moments, then try again.  This went on, comically, for about 10 tries.  It got so bad that one of the other people seated in our section started to shout for them to sit down!  But, incredibly, they just never "got it!"  How oblivious can someone be?  How so self-absorbed can anyone be not to realize that while they were getting what they wanted, they were blocking the view of several other people who had as much right to see unobstructed as they?

The clincher at Graduation, though was a woman receiving the Alumni award.   She wasn't slated for any speaking time, though the presenter definitely was ... and definitely spent more time reminiscing about her own years at UST before finally drawing out a largely unnecessary speech about how wonderful her two recipients were. (I didn't time it, but I bet her speech was close to the commencement speaker's in length.)

Then the woman who received the award on behalf of herself, and her brother, proceeded to march right up to the podium, and introduced herself by stating that she knew they hadn't come to listen to her, but she just had to say thank you.  And "I won't keep you long, I know how much speaking has already been done ..." and proceeded to talk for another 5 minutes!!!  In addition she managed to put in a publicity plug for donations.  Incredibly insensitive for someone who had just moments before been extolled on her humility and sense of service to others!  Lady, this wasn't your day ...  At least future years won't need to be subjected to her "not speaking" but then speaking for a long time!!

Don't get me wrong.  It was a very good visit.  I am just struck by a person, every now and then, who doesn't seem to be either aware of others, or completely insensitive to those around them.

One last beautiful sentiment to share!  The week before we left Mary and I attended the first meeting of what we hope becomes a Catholic Girls' Club.  Whether it actually becomes a reality or not, we were definitely blessed to have visiting two novices, and one sister who will be taking her permanent vows next year.  They are beautiful women, so soft spoken, so gentle, so kind - genuinely kind.  The order is new: "Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate."  They have a website, too:

One of the novices, during her "journey to vocation" talk said the most intriguing thing with regard to Our Lady.  She shared that while her family was Catholic, they weren't seriously so.  Her knowledge of Mary was not well formed, and she struggled with the true place of Mary in the life of Jesus.  Then this beautiful gem of wisdom came from her, "I realized that Our Lady is like a perfect pair of seeing glasses.  She doesn't place a barrier between me and Our Lord, she focused me, and helps me to see Him as He is.  Clear and without distortion."

Have a beautiful day!