Heroes with broken hearts let in the power of God’s love

There are heroes in our city. Not Spiderman, who rescues innocent victims by spinning a web around his villains, or Superman, who is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. These other heroes are less dramatic, yet they are nearby to guide and save us in real-life situations. Here’s to our heroes, the dads.

I know a hero dad whose child admitted tearfully that he did not have even one friend at school. This is a tough assignment for a dad, and kids come with no instruction manual or script to follow. All smiles on his first day of first grade, his son had spent every recess for the next two months alone, hugging the playground fence. Words of consolation are easier for a skinned knee or a strike out at the plate during a little league game.

This young father’s heart broke a bit. The wisdom of God entered through the break as he prayed for the right words to say to his discouraged, little 6-year-old son.

The bond of father and son is stronger because of this hurt they suffered together, although each suffered in a different way. Both have been taught the importance of kindness and compassion. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 32).

Good health care means asking the right questions

Effective communication makes a critical difference in receiving successful medical attention. But patients often feel inadequate about their ability to speak intelligently with their doctors, or they expect doctors and other medical professionals to take the initiative in steering a conversation in the right direction.

Patients might also be embarrassed about talking about certain symptoms or health problems, or they might not want to admit to unhealthful activities. As a result, their issues go untreated.

The sooner a patient develops and uses effective communication skills with his or her medical team, the better and stronger the relationships that lead to the best health outcome possible.

A good place to start effective communication is with respect for both the medical professional and for oneself. Patients need to face their fears and apparent failings (such as not taking prescribed medication or engaging in unhealthful habits) so that the doctor can have as full a health picture as possible.

All patients have questions about their conditions, the latest medical headlines or information gleaned from others and the Internet. Understanding that another appointment might be necessary to handle the questions is one way to get answers. Also, framing questions in a nonthreatening manner and a normal tone of voice will be more effective than asking accusatorily or from a stance of defiance.

Who is like Jesus and who speaks for Him?

He was 6’5”, built like a football player and stood out in a crowd. He was so kind and enthusiastic. When I was in kindergarten, I felt safe, loved and protected in his presence. Father Janesko radiated peace and joy to the parishioners at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the quiet, rural town of El Dorado, Ark., where I grew up. He was like Jesus and spoke for Him.

When I was in grade school, my Mom made lemonade on torrid summer days in St. Louis for the men who hauled away our garbage. They performed their important duties as if they were serving the Lord. They were like Jesus.

What about you and me when we want to be like our Messiah and speak for Him? God knows the desires of our hearts. He longs to help us. We can say, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will!”

I was amazed when I discovered one story after another about people who were like Jesus and who spoke for Him. For example, Jesuit Father Martin Royackers (Nov.14, 1959-June 20, 2001) was an activist and martyr. Rebel forces gunned him down for promoting peace and justice in Jamaica. Father Martin was raised on a farm in Ontario, Canada. After his ordination he traveled to the Caribbean island to serve five parishes in eastern Jamaica. The young Jesuit had an abundance of energy, and he ministered in the beautiful country that he cherished for nine years. He started for local farmers a co-operative that was maintained by the Jamaican community. Father Royackers was persistent until he and the peasant farmers established a school where the children would receive an excellent, well-rounded education and learn several skills that would help them to establish a viable living when they became adults.

Let us now praise the Little Professor, brother of Joltin’ Joe

In another summer of baseball’s steroid-driven discontent — A-Rod scandals, Manny’s suspension, Clemens’s denials, etc. — it is worth remembering a different era in the pastime, the virtues of which were embodied by the other DiMaggio: Dom, the Little Professor, kid brother of Joltin’ Joe, the Yankee Clipper.

Dominic Paul DiMaggio died on May 8 at age 92. He’s not in Cooperstown, but the man who patrolled left field in Fenway while Dom DiMaggio was in center — Ted Williams, whom Leon Kass once aptly called “our Achilles” — was so convinced that his teammate belonged with the immortals that he had booklets entitled “Why Dom DiMaggio Belongs in the Hall of Fame” available at the Ted Williams Museum in Florida.
Dom DiMaggio made The Show in 1940. Like Joltin’ Joe and the Splendid Splinter, Williams, he lost years off his career in service to America during World War II. Thus his entire major league life spanned but 10 full seasons. He was a career .298 hitter with a lifetime .383 on-base percentage and an entirely respectable .419 slugging average. As a memorial piece in Sports Illustrated pointed out, he was a serious bat: “No one — not Joe, not Ted Williams — had more hits than Dom’s 1,679 from 1940 through 1952” (the missing service years being 1943-45). 

Earthly ambition, divine perspective: how to stay on track

I do not understand Kate Gosselin.

I cannot comprehend how marital strains and rumored infidelity convinced the reality star and mother of eight it is a good time to launch a media campaign, one that results in the yellow, capitalized headline: “We might split up.”

How could thinking out loud about divorce (to People magazine, no less) possibly reduce her odds of it?

This is one of several media blitzes that has left me scratching my head. I don’t understand, for example, how bad-mouthing the Palin family  could help Levi Johnston realize what he insists is his most urgent goal: greater access to his baby boy. (And, he later admitted, he’s also fishing for modeling gigs.)

These ill-advised campaigns reek of ambition — the blind, ravenous kind Shakespeare wrote about.

The compassion miracle can change perspectives

I didn’t like Eleanor. She was cold, distant and smug. And once I decided I didn’t like her, I easily found new flaws almost every time our paths crossed.

Eleanor and I worked together in a large mental health center. She was a nurse assigned to care for the patients and, when needed, the staff. But frankly, I didn’t think anything short of being mauled by a bear would persuade me to ever go see her.

But life humbles us in unexpected ways. I came to work on a Monday feeling fine. An hour or so later I was woefully chanting: “I don’t have the flu.  I don’t have the flu.” As each new symptom arrived, it became painfully obvious. I would have to enter Eleanor’s lair.

Waiting outside the examining room I kept thinking, “I wish I had been nicer to her.” When she called me in, I felt that visceral “uh-oh” you get when you’re about to face a moment of reckoning.  

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