Thursday, April 19, 2007

Paradise Lost: The Virginia Tech Tragedy

I found Monday to be very troubling to me and a very sad day for all of us. It is one of those moments in one's life that you know where you were at that moment when you found out. It is an unspeakable tragedy, not that murders of such number or greater are not of equal or greater tragedy. Comparisons need not be applied. It is simply a sad period of time now in academia, and it is merely more pertinent to me as a college student.

It was hard for me to focus in my late afternoon class on Monday because of the tragedy. Again it was hard to get it out of my mind on Wednesday in the same class. It was there that I wrote the following poem Paradise Lost as a tribute and in memoriam of the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy. For me it was something that needed to be written, and I hope that you find it at least in good taste. I don't usually write on the topics of something so devoid of love, but right now it is imperative that I share these words with you.

Paradise Lost

A cold wind blasts through the windows;
The glass scatters in the wind.
The wind howls ever more;
Quicker and quicker does it roar.

Dark clouds descend down;
The Ivory Tower is enveloped in darkness.
Blood flows in the streets;
Sanctity and trust are breached.

The tempest winds blow;
The sadness of lost comes.
The blood of innocents still runs,
Killed one by one, row by row.

What terror have we seen;
What of their fateful screams?
Why did this have to happen,
This terror, travesty, and sin?

We have seen this before,
And we shall see it again.
We’ve been betrayed by a kiss,
Just like the One, much greater than this.

Why has our generation
Become this abomination?
How can we allow
Our sanctuaries to be desecrated so?

Have we no compassion?
Have we no love?
Is there any forgiveness?
Is there any love?

Yes, there is love,
Love comparing to none other.
We must look to Him, no matter the cost,
We, now the remaining, of this Paradise Lost.

In memoriam: Virginia Tech Mass Shooting Tragedy: Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Roller Coaster of Emotions

I've had a range of emotions this weekend, some logical and others not so logical. I've rejoiced over the blessings bestowed on my friends and myself. Specifically, the Easter Vigil Mass, as Father David called it: "the Final Review, a review of salvation history from creation, to covenant, to exodus, to prophets, to resurrection," was amazing and has now become my favorite mass of the year, even at three hours long! However, I've also failed in my steadfastness at times this weekend. I've shown anger and contempt, too. What I am still learning, as life is always a learning experience, is that even when things go the way planned in some areas, this doesn't mean all the others will fall in place. This falling in place is a rare occasion and, as such, shouldn't be counted upon.

I may have the summer wrapped up in expectations that have been finally set (yes!), but this doesn't mean I have it fully planned out to the nth degree. Nor does this mean I have planned out the fall semester in the least. Not by any means whatsoever have I done so. It depends pretty much on how this semester's classes end up, which I must say isn't going any where close to what I the worst ways, and how my housing search goes. Did I mention looking for a single semester of housing stinks to high heaven? Well, it does!!! Completely! Needless to say, the Lord does provide...unfortunately not to human timetables such as mine.

I thought I had something in order, something planned. I like to think of myself as an organized person with reasonable expectations. Rejections, even kind-hearted and understandable, arise and shake one's spirits. Snafus appear and throw the proverbial monkey wrench into plans. How frustrating!

In something so reminiscent to the troubles of my heart from earlier in the semester and the end of last semester (see my earlier posts and poems for that), I've reached a frustration point that I haven't reached in months. The conversation generally could take the form of the following:
God: Okay, turn here at this next exit.
John: Ok, what now? I thought that was a perfectly good route to take!
God: We're exiting questions.
John: Why are we taking this exit?
God: There's something that I need to show you...
John: What about our destination? The attraction down the highway? Aren't we going to be late for the showing?
God: Listen, my son. That will come soon enough. That attraction isn't going anywhere. It was there before you where here, it will be there still now and it will be there after you return home. There is something along this road that I must show you first. In time, you will reach that other place...but not yet.
God: With patience you will find out. I AM, and I will show you that all is good. Trust in Me.

We should all realize that while we are to be united in Christ with our whole body, mind, soul, and doesn't mean that we cannot or, certainly, do not get at the very least confused, frustrated, or even angry about the route that God wants us to take in life (even with the small stuff). It is okay to throw one's hands up at times and say even to the Lord, our God, "What gives?" We know He isn't up there blasting a beam of light into our ant hill like a bully, so confronting God on our confusion is only a natural progression to the discovery of His will on what He wants us to do within our lives and the lives of others.

Helping usher at one of the Easter Masses this weekend, I encountered a handicapped man who entered in the narthex of the church. He stopped me by the door into the vesting room while I was carrying the collection baskets. He muttered something about looking for a friend here but could not give me that friend's name. I asked him to wait one moment and I would return. I told him if he couldn't tell me the person's name to find, I could not be able to help him find that person. So I returned after we put the collection in the safe, and then the handicapped elderly man asked me for some help...specifically monetarily help. I told him if he would please wait there on the bench (he was indeed sitting comfortably there); I would help him as soon as the Mass was over. I made every intention to finding him some help, but when I returned at the end of the Mass he had disappeared, apparently not wanting any of my help to which I had offered.

So, I tell you now, don't be like the crippled man with God. Don't request assistance from the Lord and then leave Him. He may ask you to wait a while, but often that time in between is a piece of Heaven bestowed to us, the Faithful. With patience and grace we must attend all things in due time. Vivat Jesus!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rose Ever Blooming

Rose Ever Blooming

O beautiful rose ever blooming,
Like God’s love, all consuming.
Is not your stem so firm in standing?
Or your petals so vibrant with color?

Amid the springtime sun,
You radiate beauty forward.
You stand there unassuming,
But with grace you are soothing.

The grace comes not from you
But the luminous sun of day.
Dependent on the rays so true,
Your blossoms burst open as they may.

So symbolic of love is your quiet beauty;
Those deep colors of red do so enthrall me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Silver Taps

The quiet cadence of steps
Ebbs and flows into consciousness
Like waves on a distant shore
Or drops of rain on drought-stricken land.

Slowly the white-clad troupe
Makes their steady entrance
As the soft march calls
Rise to the heavens as an offering of fraternal love.

The Plaza is dark this solemn night
With only the moon to give the mourners light.
The sky seems to mark the occasion,
Blotting out all the stars of night from sight.

The moon takes on the resemblance of a host,
Its milky white orb risen up
Over the masses assembled below
With a sanctifying silver glow.

The Volunteers stand at attention,
Their hearts racing with anticipation,
Awaiting the swift salute order
Of their ready and focused commander.

The order is given to ready,
And quickly the guns are aimed.
In succession the rifles are fired steadily,
Honoring the fallen Aggies all the same.

The bugle calls its Silver Taps,
Once to the north,
Once to the south,
Once to the west...

But never is the bugle’s call
Sounded to the east
Since the sun shall never rise for them in the least
Nor their smiling faces be seen again in this place.

In the distance visitors are welcomed
By maroon block letters on a water tower
That reads "Welcome to Aggieland."
What love do the Aggies have for one another:

We say hello to the stranger
Even in the darkest of times
And, even better, say goodbye
When that stranger formerly is missing from our midst.

This is the true meaning of Aggieland, my friend,
Where the Spirit is alive, even to the very end.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori

This evening marks the last Silver Taps ceremony during my set four years here. Yes, I will be here in the fall, but much like everything else this semester, things are slowly reminding me that the end of my college years are near.

Next to Aggie Muster, Silver Taps is one of the most hallowed traditions of Texas A&M. It marks the passing, the missing of one of our own, those snuffed out during the prime of their time here at A&M. It is a step in the grieving process for the bereaved, and for this reason do so many of our Aggies participate in the silent and pitch-dark ceremony during the normal semester schedule that honors the memory of those who passed away.

So often do we as college students realize how short life truly is. We should wake up everyday thankful for the life we have and go to bed thankful for the day we've had. It's not that we should somber about all things at all times; rather we are called to be joyful and happy for the gifts given to us.

Freak accidents do exist in our world. So many things could go wrong, but with faith we know these things matter little. Our faith, grown out of God's given grace, sets a firm footing for us to enter into this world fearlessly to face the challenges of each day. As Pope John Paul II said, "Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence."

During these past four years, I lost a fellow classmate and friend, just as has my cousin lost a roommate in his years here, too. We are not immune to death or the results of those passing away around us, but we can set ourselves firmly in the rich soil of Christ's love and root ourselves in faith in response to a world of uncertainty, knowing that through God's will, we shall know and see the coming to pass of the glory of His Everlasting Word, even until the end of times.

Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori.