Monday, September 30, 2013


I often have a sense of dread on Mondays.  The week ahead looms large.  Sometimes before my feet even hit the floor thoughts of work invade my mind.  I wonder what the week will bring.  Will there be any surprises?  I must be honest.  Surprises at work rarely make me happy.  I suppose my dread is a fear of the unknown.  Trying to regain control of my mind I remind myself to follow the counsel I often give to others.  Fear, the root cause of dread, is in the head.  Our own minds are our worst enemy.  Most of what goes on in our heads never happens.  This goes for our fears and, unfortunately, for many of our day dreams, too.  I temporarily overcome these minor panic attacks by focusing on getting myself ready to leave the house.  When I am finally seated in my chair with morning coffee and toast, I begin to formally quiet my mind.  I start by focusing on my breathing.  I often read a passage from something inspirational.  I become quiet and eventually calm.  When I am in a place I would love to stay for hours, the Zen gong on my smart phone alerts me that it is time to leave home and face the world outside my door.  I know I am not alone in my sense of dread when it comes to work.  Too often work seems little more than the price we pay for the rest of our lives.  Much of the dread and the negativity about work is an illusion.  The reality is that most of the time work is not that bad.  Many days I actually enjoy myself and my co-workers.  There is rarely a day I don’t laugh or have a deeply meaningful conversation with someone.  Certainly there are elements of work that seem meaningless and a waste of time.  I suppose that cannot be avoided since the value of these elements are in the eye of the beholder.  My final thought before I left home this morning was that God would bless this day and the week ahead and fill them with grace.  May we all have a good, meaningful, and enjoyable week.  May we all do good and meaningful work.  May we all be blessed. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In Search Of The Lost Chord

Tonight I will drag my old bones out of the house and go to the Palace Theater with my rock and roll buddy, Tom, to see the Moody Blues.  I am sure some of you have no idea who they are.  They are one of my favorite bands, I’ve been listening to them since I was a teen-ager in the 60’s and I have seen them many times over the years.  They play wonderful, beautiful music and they can rock and roll with the best of them.  I am excited to see them because their music has been a big part of the soundtrack of my life plus I love to see and hear live music.  I also like doing things with my friend, Tom.  We are both 62 years old and have been friends since we met in high school during 6th period study hall of our sophomore year.  At that time we were 15 years old.  We learned how to drive cars together in a summer school Driver’s Ed class.  I think we drove the teacher a little crazy and probably scared him to death a few times.  Most of my youthful adventures, many of which cannot be talked about in this forum, were with Tom.  He was also the best man in my wedding.  As I think about it I realize that our 47 year friendship is the longest ongoing friendship in my life.  We are both moving a little slower these days but we are still rock and rollers.  Of course, since I will be out after dark tonight, and I may get home as late as 11:00 PM, I will be taking tomorrow as a vacation day.  It is exhausting to be an old rock and roller and to stay up that late!  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Spirituality Of Life

 When I think about spirituality these days, I think of myself as a man who has left home and is on a long journey.  Often I feel like I am wandering in the desert.  However, as Tolkien once said, "All who wander are not lost".  Even better is a quote from Daniel Boone who said, "I have never been lost.  I will, however, admit to being confused once for about two weeks".  I can very much relate to these quotes.  I am wandering but I do not feel lost.  I will admit to feeling a little confused and disconnected at times.  I also feel that much of the traditional spirituality in which I was raised, and which has surrounded me most of my life, doesn’t always work for me at this time in my life.  These days my spirituality is daily life, whatever it presents to me.  I have come to believe that life itself is the doorway to the sacred.  I was raised as a Roman Catholic so I suppose that is my spiritual home.  However, the practice of kindness and compassion is my best practical expression of spirituality these days.  After all, what is spirituality but putting the Spirit into your reality?  I am not a true Buddhist but these days I feel very much at home with Buddhist ways.  I love the Dalai Lama and I love my backyard with its Buddha statue and wind chimes that sound like temple bells.  It has the feel of a Zen garden for me.  However, my backyard also has a St. Francis of Assisi statue.  He is my favorite Christian holy man.  I also love the solitude and silence of the monastery I regularly visit with its Christian monastic tradition and tolling abbey bells.  I think what it all boils down to for me is a love of all things contemplative.  I am no longer sure about the value of dogma and theology but I do very much value the idea and practice of mindfulness, along with the practice of kindness and compassion, as a way to become enlightened.  Being mindful, living in peace, showing kindness, and seeing all of life as a gift, is not a bad way to live one's life.  It is certainly a positive way to live.  So much religion fills one with guilt and low self-worth.  I've spent much of my life trying to overcome feelings of guilt and inadequacy.  I strive to walk in a more positive light.  In the end I think what’s really important is whether or not we have lived loving lives and whether or we were a good people who always tried to do the right thing for those around us and for the planet on which we live. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Cosmic Dance

What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what He Himself takes most seriously. At any rate the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance.
We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing. When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Basho we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash – at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness, and the purity of vision that makes themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.-Thomas Merton in News Seeds of Contemplation
This is a wonderful thought from one of my favorite writers and spiritual masters.  Are you in the cosmic dance?  What is serious in our lives and what is trivial?  We often get them backwards.  We obsess over the trivial and we completely miss out on the serious.  Most of us are asleep even when we are walking around seemingly awake.  The trivial and the serious are all around us and we must discern which is which.  The serious is not always what seems most important and urgent.  What is trivial in the eyes of many is actually what is most important.  Too many trample flowers in pursuit of illusions.  To participate in the cosmic dance one must hear the music of life and this is usually found in what the world thinks is trivial and unimportant.     

Monday, September 23, 2013

Celebrating Life

This past weekend was a beautiful autumn weekend.  We are now officially in my favorite time of year.  The highlight of the weekend was a wedding reception for my son and new daughter-in-law.  They were married several weeks ago in Gatlinburg.  The reception was very nice.  It was held in a lodge type building in a park.  The weather was perfect for such an event, especially one held in a park.  Everyone seemed to have a very nice time.  Much of our lives are filled with ordinary days where all of us go through the routines of our lives.  Today is such a day as we begin a new work week.  Weddings and other special events are nice because they provide links that connect all the ordinary days.  If every day was a work day, or every day felt ordinary, we would soon grow weary.  Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, ordinations, holidays, and vacations give us some respite from the demands of daily life.  Sometimes we just need to celebrate life.  These occasions provide us with many of our best memories.  I once heard a quote from an unknown source that said, “Memories are the pillow on which we will sit in our old age”.  Events such as this weekend’s wedding reception are also a time to be with our extended families.  My family is as full of diverse personalities and characters as anyone’s.  However, I am fortunate because I came from a good family and I married into a good family.  I always enjoy time with my extended family.  Now it is time to resume my ordinary existence until the next event.  That will probably be a trip to Huber’s Orchard in a few weeks with Chloe and my wife to wander around in the pumpkin fields.  It has become an annual ritual in my family.     

Friday, September 20, 2013

Be Who You Are

I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.
I don’t always know how to be happy but I do know one way to be unhappy.  You will be unhappy if you are always trying to make everyone around you happy.  However, I think one way to be happy is to be who you are.  Almost from the moment of birth other people are trying to mold us into the kind of people they think we should be.  This includes parents, family, teachers, ministers, employers, and the world in general.  I have spent much of my life being resistant to this without totally ostracizing myself from family and society.  I recently had a talk with my granddaughter.  She is a little upset because she feels like people around her are trying to make her a “prissy” girl and she doesn’t want to be that kind of girl…at least not yet.  I told her to be who she wants to be, that I think she is perfect just the way she is, and that I will love her no matter what.  Since I had her attention I also told her that girls can be anything they want to be just like boys.  My wife and I both told her that when she’s at our house she can be whoever she wants to be because there are no rules at our house.  All of you should be who you are too assuming you are not a jerk.  I believe it was Shakespeare who said, “To thy own self be true”.  If you are a little weird in a good way, that’s fine.  The world is full of cookie cutter people.  If you have a sensitive nature, great!  If you’re a driven, ambitious person, I will get out of your way.  However, I encourage you to be nice on your way up the ladder because sooner or later you will be descending that ladder.  If you are artistic, I truly value you because the world needs more people who appreciate beauty.  Find yourself and don’t be afraid to let the world see who you are.  As I’ve said many times, we are all here for a reason.    

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Perspective And Attitude

While walking around my office yesterday I saw the following quote on a bulletin board.
“If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, try watering the grass on your side of the fence”.
I once heard a similar quote from my wife.
The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.  It’s brown everywhere.
Sometimes when it comes to life we are all color blind.  Some of us see green grass and others see brown grass.  Oddly enough we are often looking at the same grass.  Everything in life is a matter of perspective and attitude.  I saw a movie once called “Life is Beautiful”.  It was the story of a father and a young son who were prisoners in a German concentration camp during World War II.  The father of course knew the severity of their situation.  However, in order to protect his son he created a scenario where the son thought they were playing a game.  The son had no idea of the actual situation that he and his father were in.  I am not saying that we should all pretend that our actual situations are not what they are.  I just wanted to make a point that different people can see the same situations in very different ways.  Some of us are never happy or content.  Others of us are always or frequently very happy and content.  More stuff usually doesn’t create more happiness.  It probably only creates more distraction from our real state of mind.  Great happiness can be found in simplicity.  If the grass always looks green to you, you are probably a happy and content person.  If the grass always or frequently looks brown to you, you might want to adjust the lens on your vision.     

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Teachable Moments

I think every experience in life is a teachable moment.  These moments are not only an opportunity for me to teach others but also an opportunity for life to teach me.  In the work environment we often use the term “coachable” moment.  I don’t really like this term because it implies to me that the events of a particular moment always need to be corrected.  Some experiences are what they are, and while some mistakes may need to be corrected, mistakes are not the only soil from which a learning opportunity sprouts.  I also believe what a former teacher of mine, Richard Rohr, once said, “The moment is as perfect as it can be”.  All of life is a never ending learning experience.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many degrees you hold, life will continue to teach you.  Sometimes I think I know everything I need to know but life keeps enlightening me with even more knowledge and wisdom.  As I’ve said before, in recent years my granddaughter has been my teacher.  Like most children, she is a natural Zen Master.  When I am with her I try to see life through her eyes and I try to let my inner child appear as her playmate.  Sometimes, when I let go, I can be a nine year old child.  When this happens I can see life with a renewed freshness and not through the eyes of a tired, slightly jaded, sixty two year old.    

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

We Are All Flawed But That's OK

Life is imperfect.  People are imperfect.  Everyone I know is imperfect.  This includes people I care about and people I simply tolerate.  I am imperfect.  My own flaws are like a bright light shining into my eyes.  I accept my own imperfections and the flaws of others.  I try to see beyond the flaws.  I try to see the total person.  I try to see beyond gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual preference.  I try to see every person’s gift because I think we all have one regardless of how hidden it may be.  Increased tolerance is one of the things I like about getting older.  If you have any age on you my guess is that you have survived a lot.  When you are aware of your own struggles and weaknesses, you are better able to accept the struggles and weaknesses of others.  I am not sure where I first heard the saying “We all have a cross to bear” but I think that it is true.  Even though people can make me crazy sometimes, I think most people are doing the best they can to be good people, good spouses, good parents, good employees, good neighbors, and good friends.  I don’t think I know a single person who wakes up in the morning and thinks “I am going to be a terrible person today and I am going to do as much as I can to make other people’s lives miserable” or "I don't care about anything so I am going to make as little effort as possible to do well".  I am not saying there aren’t people that do this but those that do represent a very, very small percentage of humanity.  People are imperfect and flawed but the vast majority of people are good  and caring people.  Think about this today when you feel judgmental towards others.  Cut other people some slack and hopefully these other people will do the same for you.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekend With My Granddaughter

Here’s part of a conversation I had with my granddaughter over the weekend.
Paw Paw:  Chloe, what is your favorite thing at Mommy’s?
Chloe:  My favorite thing at Mommy’s is Mommy.
I actually thought we were talking about food.  By the way, Mommy, if you are reading this, Chloe’s favorite meal at your house is Salisbury steak.  The conversation was part of a totally delightful weekend.  Chloe jumped into my bed in the wee hours of Saturday morning after her Dad dropped her off on his way to work.  We stayed in bed for a little bit while she got warm.  Saturday morning was kind of cool.  We then went downstairs and made cinnamon toast and bacon.  When breakfast was ready we turned on the Disney channel.  Later in the day we went to Caufield’s Novelty Shop in downtown Louisville.  It is the best place to go if you need any Halloween stuff.  We also made a trip to the Comfy Cow for some awesome ice cream.  The day was capped off with dinner at the Cracker Barrel.  I love to spend time with my granddaughter.  She gives me a lot of joy and she helps me forget myself and all my imaginary troubles.  After her Mom or Dad picks her up I am always a little depressed and the house seems very empty.  I love watching her grow up but I also wish she would stay just the way she is now forever.    

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fear And Worry

I am an old man and I’ve had many problems in my life.  Some of them actually happened.
-Mark Twain
Many people worry too much and they worry about things that rarely happen.  Why are we so prone to live in fear?  What do so many of us always expect the worst?  A lot of people believe in what is called “Murphy’s Law”.  Murphy’s Law is the belief that if something bad can happen, it will.  Beyond this, many people are pessimists and they live their lives in a negative and fearful way.  I am generally an optimist, I rarely worry, and I’ve learned that any feeling of fear I have is usually a sign that I am stressed.  I am not a psychologist, although I sometimes play one at work, but I do know that fear originates in the mind.  Feelings of fear are not necessarily based on any reality.  Our minds often create our fears and our suffering.  I believe that most feelings are not based on reality and they are not who we are.  I read a wonderful analogy the other day in a book called “Into The Silent Land” by Martin Laird.  Martin compares our feelings to the weather surrounding a mountain.  We tend to identify with the weather although we are actually the mountain.  The mountain is stable but the weather comes and goes.  More and more I try to ignore many of my feelings or at least try to understand what might have caused them.  Feelings and weather don’t just happen.  Forces of nature and life tend to generate a wide variety of weather and feelings.  Some days I feel pretty happy for no particular reason.  Other days I feel sad for no particular reason.  Maybe it was no more than the sun shining bright one day and the skies being overcast another day.  If it’s a good feeling, I enjoy it.  If it’s a bad feeling, I seek to understand its source.  If nothing else, hang in there because all things pass just like the weather.      

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Few Thoughts About 9/11

This is the 12th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  I remember the day well.  I was at work and sitting in a cubicle only a few feet from where I sit now.  When I realized what was happening my first thought was of  my sister who lives in New York.  People say that we should never forget this event and I understand why.  However, I sometimes get weary of remembering.  I am over terrorists and anyone else that wreaks havoc on the lives of innocent people.  I am over war.  I was born during the Korean war.  I grew up in the cold war with the daily fear of nuclear holocaust.  I protested the Vietnam war in my youth.  Much of my adult life, especially the last 12 years, has been lived with almost daily news of continued war.  Most people, not just Americans, want to live their lives in peace.  They want to go to work, take care of their families, and come home at night without the fear of constant war.  This is not meant to be a political rant.  I have a brother and other family members with military backgrounds.  My father and my father-in-law were veterans of World War II.  I appreciate and I honor all they have done and continue to do.  I am just one human being out of billions that simply wants to live in peace.  Some will say that war is the price for peace.  I get that, too.  However, war should always be a last resort.  Peace is what 99% of mankind wants.          

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Remembering To Be Grateful

I tried an experiment last night.  When I went to bed I did not lie there and obsess about things that bother me.  Instead I thought about all the people and things in my life for which I am grateful.  I think most of us have more blessings in life than trials.  Eventually I fell asleep and slept like a baby until I got the morning shove from my wife telling me it was time to get out of bed.  Many mystics and other holy people teach us that we should live with a grateful heart.  The difference between obsessing over our unhappiness and being grateful for our blessings is attitude.  Our minds are powerful and it is challenging to keep them under control.  Unattended our mind can take us to many places we do not want to go.  This is why most meditation centers around the mind and our thoughts.  As I said yesterday, the Buddha teaches that most of our suffering comes from our own minds.  The Christian way is the way of the heart.  The way of the heart is the path of gratefulness.  Every time today that you experience something that is not exactly what you want, counterbalance that experience with a thought of gratitude.  We all have troubles, some more than others, but the least of us, and even those with the least, can find something in our lives for which to be grateful.  As a start, if you are reading these thoughts, you are alive.  Start there.  Be grateful for life.      

Monday, September 09, 2013


Even though summer refuses to let go of its grasp without a fight, in my mind it is autumn.  There are already visions of pumpkins dancing in my head and I am eager for my first pumpkin spice latte of the season.  However, since the temperatures will be in the 90’s most of the week my visions and taste buds must live in faith and hope that autumn is right around the corner and will be here soon.
I love coffee and its first cousin, caffeine.  I especially love them this morning since I had a terrible night.  If I got three hours of sleep last night I am lucky.  I’m not sure what the problem was.  I slept well on Friday and Saturday night.  I woke up naturally each morning and felt refreshed without spending half the day in bed.  Even on the weekends I am generally early riser because I love mornings.  The problem is that I usually don't want to go to work.  Getting up is not the problem.  I have no memory of any Sunday afternoon naps.  I think the problem was my mind.  Sometimes I can’t turn it off and for some reason it kicks into overdrive when I go to bed.  To make it even worse I tend to think about things that upset me and then my mind obsesses over these thoughts.  It is very annoying.  I think the Buddha is correct when he says that the source of most of our suffering is our own mind.  I’ve mentioned before that I once read that our minds will always go in a negative direction unless we intentionally think positive thoughts.  Today, between yawns and refills of my coffee cup, I will think positive thoughts.  If a negative thought creeps into my mind, I will send an army of positive thoughts to chase the negative thoughts from my mind.  If you have this problem, you might want to do the same.    

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Rock And Roll Road Warrior

I have tried to age gracefully and not complain too much about getting older.  Getting older is not all bad.  I am only a few short years from retirement and I am eager for the day when I no longer have to work full time.  I am generally happy with who I am even if there are still huge areas of unhappiness.  One thing I truly miss, however, is road trips and live music.  I still see the occasional concert but the last road trip I made was in 2010 when I went to Chicago for the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival.  That was quite a day even if it was 100 degrees in the shade.  Much of the 90's I was often on the road to a couple of favorite venues.  One was the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati and the other is a place I will always call the Deer Creek Music Center despite the current corporate sponsorship and blasphemous name of Verizon Music Center.  In those days I would see the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead on a regular basis.  There were years I would see the Grateful Dead three nights in a row and one year I saw the Allman Brothers band three times in one week in three different states.  I did have a resurgence of activity in the 2000's when I found some new companions who shared my love of rock and roll.  In the last ten years or so I have seen Buddy Guy, John Fogerty, David Byrne, Derek Trucks, Dickey Betts, the Eagles, Grand Funk Railroad, The Dead, Joe Cocker, Steve Miller Band, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Leftover Salmon, the Stringcheese Incident, Roger Waters, the Rolling Stones, Little Feat, and Paul McCartney.  A few months ago I saw Yes and in a few weeks I am seeing the Moody Blues.  In my lifetime I have seen quite a few of my musical heroes but the last few years have been a little lean.  When I was on the road more often I wrote the following playful description of a Road Warrior.

An aging and nearly extinct creature who spends all available time and resources searching for the lost chord.  These strange and exotic creatures have been known to spend their last dime in pursuit of the chills and emotional satisfaction generated by extended guitar solos, meaningful lyrics, and being with others of their kind.  Often misunderstood, they are gentle creatures who enjoy simple pleasures like sitting in their lawn chairs on a summer night while good vibrations fill the space around them.  They have even been known to take off their shoes and share a blanket.

I know it's only rock and roll but I like it!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Work And The Weekend

I am looking forward to a quiet weekend.  Last weekend was busy and hectic.  This week has been busy and sad.  It was also my wife’s first week back to work after six weeks of short term disability.  The next two days we will be practicing an economy of motion.  In other words we will both move as little as possible.  I expect several naps and lots of looking out the window.  Many people, especially young people, try to cram as much activity as possible into the weekend.  It is like they are attempting to live seven days of life in two days of weekend.  I no longer have such energy.  As much as I love the weekends, the work week is not all bad.  I have many enjoyable moments throughout the week.  Work is important for reasons beyond a paycheck.  We often don’t like to work because for most people it is a necessity and not simply something they choose to do with their time.  I admit that the most difficult part of working for me is having to do it when there are times I would rather do something else.  However, within the work week I am often able to do good things.  Yesterday, for example, I interviewed people all day for potential employment with my company.  Some of them will end up with jobs here.  Today I am having lunch with a dear friend and co-worker that I haven’t seen in many weeks.  On a typical day there are many opportunities for light heartedness and laughter.  I am blessed with many wonderful co-workers.  When this work day is finished I will pick up my wife, who I am sure will be eagerly waiting on the curb.  A little later in the evening we will pick up our priest son who has been in Chicago all week.  We’ll go to dinner and listen to his stories.  Afterwards, we will send him back to his parish then we’ll take a nap.  Let the weekend begin!   

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

When Young People Die

This past weekend a young member of my team at work passed away unexpectedly.  This is a piece I wrote in 2007 at the request of another young co-worker.  In view of this weekend's event, it seems appropriate to post it again.  
A friend came to me recently after attending a funeral for the 18 year old sibling of one of her best friends. She expressed to me how difficult the funeral was for her and how helpless she felt to console her friend. She asked me what can be said in such a situation. It is difficult for anyone to find the right words in such a situation. I have been through similar experiences. When I was 29 years old, my younger brother in law was killed by a drunk driver. A few years later a child in my neighborhood died in a house fire across the street from where I lived. Another time the only son of a good friend died of cancer at age 20. When my youngest son, Nick, was 17 years old, his best friend died unexpectedly the day after spending the night at our house. Each time I felt helpless as I struggled to find words for a sister in law, a neighbor, a friend, and my son. It is always difficult to deal with the death of a young person. None of us understand why such things happen. If God has anything to do with it, I don't understand what He's thinking. What's his purpose? What's the point? Why is such sorrow brought upon spouses, parents, friends, and relatives? Sometimes I shudder when, in such circumstances, I hear people say, "It's God's will". I don't like to let God off the hook so easily. There is probably a very thin line between what God wills and what God allows. I will accept the fact that many things in life are a mystery and one can have lengthy theological discussions about God and evil and why bad things happen to good people. I don't understand everything that happens in life and I certainly cannot give my friend or others easy explanations for why 18 year olds die and other's live to be 100 years old. Do the good die young? Yes, sometimes. Do bad people live long lives? Yes, sometimes. Do some of us live long lives because we need a lot of time for a deep spiritual transformation to take place within us? This is very likely. Life really is a mystery. It is not likely we will solve its mystery this side of the grave. Through faith we believe and trust that our lives and the lives of others, no matter how short, have a purpose and life is not just a series of random, meaningless experiences. I must believe that life and pain have meaning and someday I hope to understand it. Part of the mystery of life is that we never know when it will end. This should motivate us to live each day well and to the fullest.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

It's Time To Get Back On The Horse

My mini-vacation has come to an end.  It was a busy time.  Over the weekend I drove 600+ miles, endured intense heat and humidity, bumper to bumper traffic from Interstate-40 to my hotel room, and billions of people spending the holiday weekend in Gatlinburg.  In the midst of all this chaos my oldest son, who shares my name, got married.  It was a beautiful ceremony in a small Smoky Mountain chapel.  The groom appeared nervous and the bride was beaming.  My son and his new wife seem well suited to one another.  Chloe wasn’t too thrilled about being dressed up and I have never worn a suit in Gatlinburg until now.  A few days before this event my wife and I attended a luncheon with the Archbishop and our other son in honor of his recent ordination.  Other priests were also honored for their combined 500+ years of ministry.  I guess my mini-vacation was really a time to be proud as a parent and to celebrate and recognize my children’s accomplishments.  Today my poor wife was moving slow as she returned to work after six weeks of short term disability.  I know she was exhausted by the end of the day but I am glad that our life is returning to its normal pace and routine.  Even though I was only off for six days, I feel like I’ve been off for six weeks.  It’s time to get back on the horse.