Be Radiant

A Joke for Halloween

Children and Halloween

When I moved to St. Louis so many years ago, one thing that really fascinated me was Halloween.  You see, in St. Louis when children go trick-or-treating, they are asked to tell a joke before they receive their candy.  Now perhaps this was true in Ohio, where I grew up, but I don’t remember having to tell jokes to receive candy on Halloween.  So, this seems very “St. Louis” to me.

The thing about asking a child to tell a joke, is that joke-telling becomes the real treat for the adults opening the doors.  You have the children who have spent days, maybe weeks, figuring out their “best” jokes.  You can tell these kiddos right away, they launch into joke telling before the door is even open, sometimes giving you a few jokes if you laugh hard enough.

You have the shy children, who have the joke memorized and will look at the ground as they tell it to you, so that you have to strain to hear the punch line.  But, they are brave as they tell a joke to a perfect stranger.  You have the toddlers, not even speaking in sentences yet, so the parents tell the jokes for them.  They may be little, but their eyes light up when they receive the candy!

You have the bigger children, who might be tempted to share a bit of an off-color joke.  Not at my house, for if they do I then ask them if they can’t give me a good, clean joke.  When a good, clean joke is offered they may find an extra bit of candy in their bags.

The thing about Halloween in St. Louis is that it is an opportunity to engage, to be present to those littles faces on a day when they are truly shining.  Their pride in their costumes and why they chose it for that year.  Their exuberance in running from house to house, simply for candy.  Their knowledge that somehow, today is different.  They not only get candy, they get to eat lots of it!  Oh happy day!

You know what I see?  I see their radiance.  I see these beautiful little people filled with life and energy.  I see their joyous laugh at their own jokes.  I see the bravery in a shy child.  I see the smiles of the toddlers.  I see such spirit in them all.

What will you see this evening?  Amidst the princesses and storm troopers and witches and pumpkins, look for the radiance, it will be shining brightly tonight, joke or no joke!

Author, Be Radiant

A Radiant 4th!

A Radiant 4th

I dare suggest that the Fourth of July is truly a radiant holiday.  It has always been one of my favorites, that patriotic sense of community, the celebration of America, that knowledge that we all love this one country of ours.

This deep sense of patriotism and community was inspired in me as a very young girl.  My father had grown up in Blue Island, Illinois, right outside of Chicago.  Every summer, around the fourth, we would take a road trip from Middletown, OH to Chicago to see our grandparents, cousins, and all sorts of extended family.  While for this little five year old the six-hour drive seemed never-ending, the results were always worth it.  Days upon days of playing in new spaces, with cousins I didn’t get to see nearly often enough, and grandparents who doted on us; those trips were sacred.

Blue Island to me, was the quintessential American town.  We would celebrate Independence Day there, starting the morning with the parade.  Standing along the parade route I would watch my parents talking to so many people as they made this annual pilgrimage home .  If Mom and Dad were talking, my grandmother was always there, hoisting us up so we could see, or holding our hand so we wouldn’t get lost.

I loved the parade, though the fire engines were so noisy I would always cover my ears.  We all cheered the bands and laughed at the clowns.  The parade had to be the best in the country, at least to me.  We all waved flags during the parade and if I couldn’t find mine, there were several people jumping to give me theirs.  That day, in the town of Blue Island, I felt what it meant to be American, to be part of this great country of ours.

After the parade had ended, we would find our way back to my grandmother’s and cousins’ homes for a cook-out.   The men manned the grills so that hot dogs and hamburgers were in constant supply.  We spent our afternoons eating and playing until it was time to get ready for the fireworks.  There was only one place to go for fireworks in Blue Island, Eisenhower High School.  We would get there early and Mom would put a blanket on a patch of the football field.  We would lay down on our backs and wait for the explosions of colors to light the sky above us.  I was always a little bit afraid, what if the embers came all the way down on me?

I wonder if I knew the word radiant at the time?  I don’t really know.  But, as I remember those nights, the sky was radiant.  The deep, dark night, spotted with bright, little stars would explode in color.  We would all gasp and ooh and aah at the same time, without even trying.

And now, I ask myself, isn’t the fourth of July the definition of radiance?  We are one nation, under God, with the beautiful light of fireworks connecting us all as we jointly sing God Bless America.  On the Fourth of July however, it is not just the fireworks that are radiant, but it is us.  We, the people, are radiant as we celebrate this country of ours.  We are the light, given by God, that shines most brightly at the celebration of our country’s birth.  As freedom rings, let all of us shine….

 

Be Radiant, faith

The Sounds of the Season

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There is nothing quite like attending a Christmas music concert.  The sights, the smells, the sounds, the heavenly sounds that lift our spirits and remind us what this season is all about.

Last night might have been one of the most spectacular concerts I have attended in awhile.  The Daughters of Pauline, a religious order of Catholic Sisters have a traveling choir that performed here last night, and were they ever wonderful.  Their voices were individually so beautiful and collectively, simply breath-taking.

But it wasn’t just the voices, though I could have listened to them all night.  It was so much more.  These Sisters wear habits, but they had fun dressing them up a bit with a sparkly red scarf here or a Santa cap there.  Between most of the songs, they each shared little ditties, how they became a nun, or a little about their life in a habit.  Each story entertaining, insightful and with a little nugget of spirituality.

Their program was intentional, it was about showing love, dare I say, it was about being radiant.  They brought the children in the audience on stage to sing with them.  In the next breath, they sang a tribute song to all of the loved ones in all of our lives who have served as angels to each of us.

There I sat, with my book club, soaking in the sounds and realizing that the tribute to the angels was a tribute to each of them.  As I went through cancer, it was that very book club that I referred to as some of my dearest angels through that journey.

What a spectacular way to enter into this beautiful season. Each song was carefully chosen, intentionally shared, beautifully choreographed, and exquisitely sung. The angelic sounds of Christmas music, reminding us of why we celebrate, of the love and promise Christ brings to each of us.   No wonder I couldn’t help but smiling with great Joy to the World!

 

 

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All American Weekend

I don’t know about you, but I just love the Fourth of July.  So much to celebrate about this wonderful country of ours.  And, for just one day, there is no bickering, no arguing, no politics; just cheers that we are so blessed to live in this great country.  

As I celebrated this week-end I also thought about what the USA means for cancer.  The Cancer Moonshot kicked off this week across the nation.   We have some of the world’s premier doctors and cancer centers right here in the United States.  We have universities developing amazing and promising treatments.  I am honored to sit on the advisory board of Purdue University’s Center for Cancer Research and I have learned first hand of the types of breakthroughs in cancer research that are occurring here in the states, and they are nothing short of remarkable!

Here in the US, breakthroughs discovered for treatment can quickly move to clinical trials, because at the heart of this country is such an entrepreneurial spirit.  We CAN do things and we DO – do things.   Our country values the individual and because of that, we have so many support services for those going through cancer.  From social service programs such as the Cancer Support Community to websites, blogs or retailers for women who have had to deal with mastectomy.  When a need is identified, Americans are quick to address the situation.

Sure, we see challenges.  But, for this weekend, as we celebrated America, I couldn’t help but celebrate what America means for the cancer patient, and how blessed we truly are.