In the Midst of it All...Love at 32,000 Feet

Just a brief reflection on this Inauguration Day. Recently, I was on a flight to San Jose, CA seated in 16A , a window seat. Next to me was a woman and next to her was her mother of 91 years of age. I want to somehow communicate to you the significance of the conversation that I overheard between these two people. There was a genuine delight in the tone and in the words themselves. A playfulness, and affection that was so obvious. Each seemed very at home with the other and each was able to truly listen and respond to the other in loving speech. Their gentleness extended beyond words to tender expressions of caring in touch and at one moment in the mom's laying her head upon the shoulder of the daughter. Their whole way of relating was full of thoughtful attention and keen interest in the other. I later learned that the mom had recently lost significant portions of her eyesight and so the flowing conversation was also a compassionate passing of the time since the mom was unable to read.

As I reflected on this later it struck me that of all the events going on this past week and those upcoming including the historic inauguration of the new President, this moment of loving between two people was the most significant. For at the heart of it was something that is essential for human transformation be it personal or political. In the creation of something new whether in our personal lives or in society in general this one ingredient must, above all else, be present. Compassionate loving is , more than, brilliant ideas or political strategy, the key to it all.

" In order to create something of lasting value, there must be a dynamic force.
And what more powerful force is there than love?"

Igor Stravinsky

A Blessed and Peace-filled New Year to All and especially to the mom and her mom in 16B and 16C.

Stefan Andre


A Prayer for the New Year

The beginning of this new year finds me tucked away in the quiet of rural North Carolina with two adorable friends - Sophie the dog, and Danny the cat. When I'm not engaged in playing with or caring for these little creatures there is plenty of time and space to think and ruminate on the passing of one year and the arrival of another. Or perhaps in the playing and caring I find enough meaning . So just a few thoughts in the form of a prayer that for me is both playful and compassionate.

It's been just over a year now that I returned from living in Ireland for two years. Back in the United States I have been struck by many things that seem to characterize us as Americans in this country. My friend , Rachel, in England , likes to remind me of the distinct differences between " you Americans and we English." Somehow in her description we Americans always come out looking like a comic character in a badly played tragedy. So, to be a bit more balanced , I do see us as a highly creative, and even ingenious people. There is clearly a pioneer spirit about us that has both a feline curiosity and the determination of a pit bull. We seem to really enjoy a good fight and some would say that violence is especially embedded in everything we say and do from political speeches to popular music. Perhaps...This past year has seen a remarkable outburst of the American spirit. For the first time in our history the majority of Americans have elected an African American to be President of the United States. And at the same time we have had a woman as a serious contender for both the office of President and Vice-President. What's happening to us? Some ask this in joyful expectation while for others this question comes out of sheer panic.
Simply put, there has been a shift. It may be that the United States is finally catching up to the post-modern world where lines are not drawn quite so clearly and there is room for just about everything and everyone. One hopes...
In the midst of this shifting societal sand I would like to offer a prayer. My prayer is that we may begin to see differently and with new eyes. May we not be so quick to judge, dismiss, and label the other, but rather with new eyes may we see the other, in humility, as we do our own self.
My prayer is that we may begin to see the world with new eyes. May we see those in other countries as we do our own selves. They are not the enemy. There is no enemy. May we list and mourn the dead and wounded of every country and not just our own. May we refuse to make war - on our own selves. May we work to heal, to feed, to clothe the people of every nation , including our own.

This year is the 800th anniversary of the official founding of the Franciscan movement - a community dedicated to peace and the transformation of this world in love with all people's and creatures. The founders of that community, Francis and Clare of Assisi, lived out their dream of peace. May we do so as well. May we see this world and ourselves with new eyes. May we begin to see this world as God sees this world ... becoming more playful and more compassionate - and smile.

Together with Two of God's Adorable Creatures -Sophie, and Danny ,
A Very Happy and Peace-filled New Year to Everyone!
Your brother,
Stefan Andre