Twenty-One

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I turned 21 on a street corner

a discreet place to grow old

conversing of mecca & happenstance

Our words foreign to the place.

Beyond me lays a world yet unknown,

piece by piece I strive to comprehend.

Though not a child of the Spanish son

adopted by the indifference of night

As I turn 21 on a street corner


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Simply Be

We’ve all been there we get caught up in life and forget to actually live it. We turn our lives into chronological lines and mark the passing of time through tangible objectives that we have deemed important. A dramatic reminder for you is that we continue on and eventually we die. No amount of successfully completed objectives will stop that.

Occasions will arise throughout our lives that allow us to slow down and see more than just a straight line. In these moments we are given the benefit of seeing ourselves with all the depth and complexity that we contain.

One of my recent experiences with this is a weekend I spent camping. Not a rare occasion for me, but this time I was entirely surrounded by fellow Catholics. Now we weren’t doing anything religious per se, we were just enjoying each others company along with the beautiful weather. On Sunday morning there came an aha! moment for me. It was like we hit a pause button on the weekend and an altar sprang up in the middle of our camp. As we gathered around it occurred to me that we had not come together to specifically do anything Catholic, and yet there was no doubt in anybody that mass was the central point of our weekend. It was beautiful because we were being Catholic. We were fully alive in that moment.

My challenge for you is to simply be. Be present. Be you. Be whatever defines you, and allow that to encompass the moment you’re living in. That’s what allows us to see our lives for the inspiring functions they are.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

a deliberate life

I’ve always love the idea of living deliberately. Admiring those who seem to find purpose in every action and in every moment. I used to always strive to carry myself with the same demeanor; attempting to foresee the full impact of my every move. Turns out I had it wrong, in fact I had absolutely no idea what it meant to live deliberately.

“You don’t know in December who you’ll be in July,” sings The Suitcase Junket. Almost a year ago now I turned my life in an unplanned direction. I had no idea who I was or what I would become. I was lost, and at the time I viewed my choice as a panic reaction. The uncertainty of it forced me out of my comfort zone and into a year that I would not trade for the world. And now looking back I can see that every moment, every risk, every bit of that uncertainty was necessary. It formed me into who I am.

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Deliberate. The word haunts me as something I lack. How could I claim to be living deliberately if I had absolutely no idea what I was even doing? The truth that I had to learn, and that I still am, is that “to live deliberately” is rarely synonymous with “to act with full knowledge.” A deliberate life is not one of knowing the full impact of your actions, rather one of confidently stepping forward while still pausing to see the ripples stretch out. In his book Dynamic Catholic, Matthew Kelly asks his readers to be bold but never rash. I begin to understand that just a little more, and take it to heart as I boldly look for who I’ll be next July.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Catharsis, Wonder, & Samaritans

In fall of 2013, near the feast of Christ the King, I attended the National Catholic Youth Conference. Even more specifically I was in one of the major breakout sessions, this one happened to be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It was an amazing feeling being in a room with 5,000+ fellow teens raptly adoring our God. I remember being towards the back on some bleacher type seating, and right before we started they had everyone cram together so as to get more people in the room. The reason I say this is because to my right was this girl I didn’t know and we spent a lot of time trying to not elbow each other.

Towards the end of the holy hour it was as if I’d been hit by a brick wall. Just absolutely everything came up in my prayers. I began to tremble thanking God for bringing me through the darkness of the year and a half before that. Seeing me visibly shaking, the girl next to me decided to tap my knee as she leaned over and made sure I was okay. Tears of awe and relief running down my face I croaked out a “yes,” and we both returned to our prayers. Afterwards I remember thanking her for being exactly what I needed in that moment. Her response was that she doesn’t normally say a word to strangers, but felt compelled to say something. Giving me a bracelet she asked if I would pray for her at my next holy hour.

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It was no mistake that I randomly¬† found the bracelet again tonight. You see I’ve been spiritually low these past months. Just today I had another catharsis moment. Where through the help of another person who didn’t quite know how much they were helping me, I remember just how quick God is to forgive me. I was reminded that I’m the snag, I have to forgive myself and choose the embrace of God’s love. This bracelet reminds me of that love and what it’s like to be consumed by the Holy Spirit.

For us Catholics today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which means that once again we hear and pray on the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s small acts of mercy, it’s treating each other as neighbors, that’s how we grow and become holy.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Hold tight

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I always provide the convenient lie, that I simply do not have the time. Again and again I shout the line, I SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE TIME!! Time to go and time to see, time to love and time to be. Carried along by a busy life. Telling all I simply do not have the time. no matter my mind, the painful truth rings out still. That I simply have not made the time. It chides me by my own mouth and bids me rise. I must choose to act. Only I can alter this. For this my only life. Henceforth I choose to make the time. Time to go, and time to see. Time love, and time to be. I choose to hold tight and begin my wondrous life.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

embracing uncertainty

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news flash. I don’t know what comes next. I know what I’d like to happen, and I know what direction I’m heading. But I really couldn’t tell you where I’ll end up. I am a dreamer lost in my mind. I’m a traveler on foot, I’ll get there even if it takes me awhile. Where I go from here is enticingly undecided. And if I’m being honest, I’m absolutely okay with that. my goal is to simply keep going. I will live adventurously embracing the uncertainty that is thrown my way.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

a discourse in experiential learning

I’m graduating with an associate’s degree next week. I can’t begin to express how awesome that feels. And even though it means¬† I’m only a little over halfway to my bachelor’s, it’s still very important to me. It is a tangible accomplishment that can never be taken away.

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But what does it really mean? Physically it is a piece of paper that declares my successful completion of enough credit hours in the requisite categories. But it is really much more than that. It’s laughing in the hallways with my Phi Theta Kappa friends. It’s countless hours spent commuting. It’s the anxiety of balancing work and school. It’s the bond I formed with classmates while suffering through the lectures of a terrible instructor. It will forever be an experience that means more to me than what I learned in my classes. My perspective is based on more than the credentials, and so society will always put a different meaning to my degree than I do.

I’m a strong proponent of experiential learning. I hold faithfully to the notion that many concepts cannot be taught in a classroom. Wisdom is decidedly different than knowledge. As a society we put a great emphasis on learning through exposure, especially with increasing numbers of college graduates. In our obsession of experiencing things, we’ve forgotten their value. Too often we pursue experience solely for the sake of building a resume. We must return to accomplishing tasks with the intention of living in those moments.

So yeah, I’m excited to receive my degree. Excited because it marks what I’ve been living the past two years. Though I’m far more interested in what I will experience moving forward.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Each moment

Think about yesterday. What do you remember? I remember pouring my coffee; I remember jamming out to my favorite song; I remember speaking to that one awful customer that nobody really wants to deal with. What I don’t remember is yesterday as one whole memory, rather yesterday is a slightly disjointed sequence of smaller memories. Because we don’t remember entire experiences, just moments within them.

I went and saw the movie Deadpool with a couple friends a few weeks ago. I’ll admit it was probably one of the best comic book to movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. Though it was morally offensive so I’m not actually going to suggest you watch it. Towards the end of the movie a member of the X-Men by the name of Colossus tries to instill in Deadpool (and the movie) with just a hint of morality. Colossus explains that to be a super hero is not a constant job. It’s not something you do 24/7 365 for your entire life. He says that a person only has 4 or 5 opportunities in their life to prove who they really are. And it’s what they do in these moments that determines whether or not you are a hero.

Matthew Kelly once said that the saints did not live holy lives. The saints became saints by living holy moments. They chose to make the most of the moments that presented themselves. We can all apply this to our entire lives. We need to recognize the power within each moment and ask ourselves, am I making the most of the opportunities that present themselves?

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Hello old Friend

Hello old friend, did you miss me?

It has been so long, I’d forgotten your face.

Here now I find turmoil burning in my soul

So come, let us dance in the moonlight!

we’ll forget former woes and look ahead.

Reveling through the night

meeting as if for the first time

and as the sun rises

we shall see each other in a new light.

Perhaps this is the last we shall meet

though I truly doubt that

I know that we are inseparable

we share a future and a past

our fates are intertwined.

again and again my heart replies,

Hello old friend, oh how I missed you…


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

2am

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep

the churning of thoughts never does

they call it art

it feels like something far more

I crave the silence of the night

But can Silence be trusted?

so like everything else,

it is drowned out by the swaying sound of music.

and the words are pounded into my notebook

their damage already done

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe