A ‘Great Pumpkin’ kind of faith

When I awoke this morning, it was 51 degrees Fahrenheit. For Central Florida, that is more than just a little chilly. Really. If you are on the beach in Florida and have to use your beach blanket as outer wear, you know the autumn-winter season has finally arrived. At least for a while.

My other sign that the autumn-winter season is here occurs tomorrow night (Oct. 31). ABC will air the animated classic, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Yes, I admit it; the animated Peanuts’ crew is one of my favorite seasonal barometers.

Every year we see Linus write a letter to the Great Pumpkin. He believes the Great Pumpkin will visit on Halloween and reward the good little boys and girls with treats and gifts. In expressing his belief, Linus encounters a little conflict, beginning with the mailbox. He can’t reach it. His sister Lucy won’t help him. With his own resources, he finds a creative way to drop his letter in the box.

He shares his excitement but it seems no one really believes him. Everyone tries to dissuade him from going to the pumpkin patch to wait for the Great Pumpkin. His sister threatens him and Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, laughs at him. Holding firm to his belief, he goes to the pumpkin patch anyway and waits. He is so strong in his belief, he convinces little Sally to wait with him. They wait. They wait some more. Sally decides to leave. Linus, true to his belief, stays and promises to put a good word in for her.

For those who do not know the ending, I am not giving it away. You will have to watch the movie.

I wonder if cartoonist Charles Schulz knew what a great philosopher and teacher he was when he created this story. This simple children’s film provides a profound message of holding on to one’s belief and persevering in one’s mission. Linus does not let the doubters — with their snickers and threats — deter him. Nothing sways him.

A simple, childlike faith. That’s the real gift.

Movie still from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” by Charles Schulz.

Happy Birthday Godmother

In the Catholic Church, today is the feast day of St. Jude. It is also my godmother’s birthday. While looking through folders yesterday, I discovered one of the many cards she sent me during her lifetime. Every birthday, Easter and Christmas and in between, she sent cards filled with little keepsakes of Scripture, offering blessings and love. She would not let me forget her love, or God’s love, for me.

God has given me many gifts and she is one of my favorites. As a child, my mother arranged for my baptism but did not know anyone who could stand up as a godparent. My father was Baptist as were his friends. Father Donald Timone, then parochial vicar of Holy Rosary Parish in the Bronx, N.Y., knew the right one — Paula Retcho. Without knowing much more than a little girl needs a godmother, she stepped forward. What a gift she was and continued to be throughout her lifetime.

Paula’s home, as her heart, was open and welcoming. A Charismatic Catholic, one time she invited me to a weekend conference at Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. It was a short trip from Washington where I worked at the time. I didn’t know much about the Charismatic movement but Paula was so enthusiastic about the event I had to go.

Friends of friends needing a place to stay that weekend filled Paula’s basement.  After all, we were brothers and sisters — children of God. We were all one. It was a weekend of song and Word; hugging people I didn’t know who were moved by Spirit to speak in tongues. I didn’t know my Church had Pentecostals! Can you imagine Yankee Stadium reverberating with words of love and not incivility for an umpire? What an experience. Overwhelmed but renewed, I returned to Washington and found a prayer group to further my renewal.

Along with sharing faith, Paula shared her secret to the perfect sauce and mouth-watering eggplant Parmigiana. I developed my love for and appreciation of Italian food at her family’s table. Yesterday, in my kitchen, sauce simmered, giving off aromatic hints of garlic and oregano. The flavors melded overnight into the promise of perfect sauce that will make my pasta sing. I honor her birthday not just by serving pasta today but through the love in the preparation of the ingredients.

My godmother was love. Paula loved and welcomed everyone regardless of color, race, faith belief or social status. She knew no differences. She shared herself, whatever she had. What an incredible gift to a child — to see someone who lived what we were always taught, to love one another.

I will forever hold the gift of Paula in my heart. I will love and bless each person, the ones I meet and the ones I will never meet. I’ll even love and bless the prickly ones. OK. It takes me a little more time and effort to love and bless the prickly ones, but love and bless I do. I realize that prickly is just a side of myself that needs more love, because, after all, we are one. Tanti auguri Paula.

Have Enough — Irish Blessing

Sunlight through the trees.

May your joys be as bright as the morning, and your sorrows merely be shadows that fade in the sunlight of love. May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet, enough trials to keep you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to keep you happy, enough failure to keep you humble, enough success to keep you eager, enough friends to give you comfort, enough faith and courage in yourself to banish sadness, enough wealth to meet your needs and one thing more; enough determination to make each day a more wonderful day than the one before.

— Irish Blessing

Photo: Sun, ©Thethirdman|Dreamstime.com

Amazing day

Go out and make today ridiculously amazing. Find some joy in little things and do small tasks with great passion. Welcome opportunities to be kind and patient. Embrace the spirit within and shine.

Photo: Dreamstime

Morning prayer of thanks

Dear Lord, I thank You for the Grace of being alive this morning. I thank You for the sleep that has refreshed me. I thank You for the chance to make a new beginning. — Unknown

Photo: Publicphoto.org

‘Time tested beauty tips’

Audrey Hepburn on UNICEF mission.

This poem by Sam Levenson became one of Audrey Hepburn’s favorite poems and is often associated with her.

Time Tested Beauty Tips

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!



Whispers of gratitude

Throughout the day I whisper to God words of gratitude. Beginning with my morning coffee until I rest my head at night and the many hours in between

I express gratitude for big and small things, miraculous and common. I whisper to God, I am grateful for it all.