Wednesday, November 14, 2012

There Are No Mulligans

At 71 years and 106 days, I have begun to realize that in life, there are no do-overs, nor is there any value in spending time on what-ifs.  There is, however, a powerful option, albeit somewhat trite:  today, right now, is either the first day of my new life or yet one more day of being a zombie.  To stop my sleepwalking, I take to heart, yet one more time, the quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery which, for the past ten years or so, has stared at me from my computer desk:  a goal without a plan is just a wish. 

As I write this 14th of November, 2012, I recall the 26 years ago today when I was ordained a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.  I am not sure, though, were I to apply today, I would be accepted.  Be that as it may, looking backwards, there are two energy currents that have both challenged and sustained me.

When Archbishop Charles Salatka handed me the Book of the Gospels as a ritual sign of my diaconal ministry, I promised my self I would aim to protect the Scriptures from trivialization; and protect those, with whom and for whom I  minister, from being brow-beaten by either dogmatic or biblio idolatry. I envisioned myself then, as now, as seeking:  to rekindle, rather than snuff out, the smoldering wick--to assist in healing, rather than to break off and discard, the bruised reed.  Along the way, there have been mea culpa miscues; there have been, as well, times during which the power of a compassionate God has spoken through me the gracefilled and invigorating invitation:  Lazarus, come forth!

Looking forward, I move beyond if onlys. There are 7 days a week; 24 hours a day.  Sandlike, these 168 hours can continue to run through my fingers making accidental formations at my feet; or with intentionality, castles in the sand, even if they do not withstand the ebb and flow of the tides of history, can be fashioned for the benefit of others in the here and now. At the end of this day, I will have been alive 623,208 hours; I want to live another 250,968 to reach a full century.  For this, of course, there are no guarantees.  Hee is what I can be sure of, as I sing an old John Denver song, Yesterday's gone, and tomorrow is blind, so I'll live one day at a time.

Expanding on an adage from my philosophic hero, Bernard Longergan, just as an open mind is not an empty mind, so a life open to surprise and with flexible awareness to the presence of persons is not, thereby, one without a structure from which to act.

This renewed blog is a long-winded way to say:  I am coming to terms with my quasi-retirement. 
Peace, Joe    


  1. Thanks for coming back to blogging once again, Joe.
    I too am in quasi-retirement and have been for 2 1/2 years. My ministry in catechesis is also my part time job, but salary has never diminished my sense of being a minister.
    My wife Nan is a partner in my life pursuits. We have integrated ministry and relationship. We share everything, but allow each other's alone time as well.
    When I was 18 I learned the sacramentality of the moment. I discovered that myself during my novitiate experience. When I was 30 this was confirmed by a one-liner that Gabriel Moran threw to us students: "Everything is revelatory of God; but it is not guaranteed to be so."
    At times, I practiced this spirituality. At times, not so much.
    Now, as I am in the legacy-building phase of my days, the sense of Presence is much stronger. I aim to practice it wherever I am.
    Maybe I will carry it with me beyond these days.

    Frank Koob (Joe, we have been at this sine we were 16!)

  2. I like your way of coming to terms with your retirement! Happy Anniversary!

  3. I can't wait to see what you do with the rest of your life!

    Welcome back to the blogosphere, Joe.