Archive for Thursday, November 13, 2003

Bit and Pieces

Pope offers example of living, dying

November 13, 2003

Just one more comment on my trip to Italy and then it's over -- I promise.
Talking with a group of people recently concerning the highlights of my trip, I realized I had not touched on many of its spiritual aspects, at least in this column. The reason for the trip was a pilgrimage, as I have stated before.
We visited the monastery of Padre Pio in the south of Italy at San Giovanni Rotundo. This gentle monk, who died in 1968, was a Franciscan and has already been beatified on his way to canonization. I also learned that he bore the stigmata for 50 years and was a favorite confessor to thousands who came to his small village to wait in long lines to receive the blessing of absolution. I have talked about the majesty of the beatification of Mother Teresa in St. Peter's Square and walking the streets of Assisi in the footsteps of St. Francis, who trod the same cobblestones centuries ago.
Exploring the past and the role of these famous people in the world then and today brought me to the present time and another person who not only teaches us how to live but also how to die.
As I observed the fragility of Pope John Paul on the day of the beatification, my thoughts were of pity for a once strong and energetic man who has been reduced to an invalid who can barely speak. His caregivers surrounded him on every side and hurried to finish the sentences he sometimes failed to finish.
Asking myself why he would not resign and be comfortable in the days he has left and talking with others who asked the same question, we came to understand that just as the old and the ailing are so often ignored and institutionalized, he teaches us the value of each individual however infirm or useless he or she may appear.
Talking with my friend Judy Parker, who is director of Catholic Charities in Lawrence, she recounted a homily given by the Rev. Vince Krische at St. Lawrence Center recently on this very topic. After speaking of the Pope's readiness to appear in public in all of his infirmity, he stated, "the messenger has become the message" which sums it all up beautifully. Whatever your thoughts are concerning the pope, whether you are in agreement with his leadership or not, one has to admire the lesson of humility he teaches all of us in these, his final days.
As I turn my thoughts to what's happening in Eudora, I am so happy to report that for my own personal comfort and those of us along Winchester Road that the construction on that road is now in it's final stages.
After many years of living on a much-traveled gravel road and contending with the dirt and dust all year long, we now have a lovely stretch of concrete from 10th Street to the Kansas Highway 10 overpass. I'm not sure if there are plans to extend the pavement beyond the bridge, but am so very thankful for the part that runs past my house.
Our neighbors along Winchester, with whom we used to combine resources to put down oil on the road each year, are equally happy about the pavement, especially Eva Belle Gerstenberger, my neighbor across the street. Even though she and other neighbors lost beautiful, large trees for the construction, we all agree this is a much-needed improvement. Now I'm awaiting the safety features that were promised for the children crossing the road to attend West Elementary. Hopefully they will not be long in coming for the benefit of the kids living in Rose Acres and Wakarusa Estates.
City and County officials and workers, who worked through an especially grueling, hot summer to make this improvement a long awaited reality, deserve our appreciation. I now have lost my excuse for not washing my windows -- for every rose there is a thorn.
Reading the Eudora News this past week, I see there is a lot going on in our small city. I was unable to attend the public viewing of the new high school two weeks ago. I am hoping there may be another such event scheduled. According to everyone, including Theresa Abel, who gave a glowing report of her walk-through experience, it is an amazing building and a first rate learning facility. It is something to distinguish our town and to be a source of pride for all of us here in Eudora.
Another source of pride is the completion of our high school football season. Although it closed with a loss to arch rival Baldwin, the team and coach Gregg Webb have much to be proud of for the successes they did have, closing the season with only three losses.
In closing on this rainy, gray day, I will remind you all that Thanksgiving is late again this year and the big season is fast approaching. Spending the past weekend with my daughters and two friends, I witnessed and participated in a mad, pre-Christmas shopping spree that finds most everyone covered on my Christmas list.
Just an FYI that the Christmas buzz is in the air and the Home Christmas tour is once again planned for Dec. 14. All proceeds benefit the Eudora Food Pantry, which is housed at St. Paul.

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