“May the force be with you”, or so goes the pop culture expression from a recent hit movie.
But did you ever ponder the forces around us, and what keeps them at bay and working for us?
I was sitting peacefully in church and had that thought.
Thousands of pounds of roofing materials over head, that if they were to collapse would have crushed and killed me and everyone around me.
Yet we knelt or sat peacefully in prayer and praise.
A universe of vast temperature extremes from the million degrees of supernovas, to the -460 degree temperatures of absolute zero in deep space.
Yet we sat comfortably in a 72 degree church praying and giving praise on a planet of temps varying modestly and manageably from extremes of -135 to 135 degrees.
A universe of gravitational forces so strong that light itself could not escape it’s powerful pull and crushing singularity, and weightlessness so useless that we would drift infinitely unable to get traction toward any purpose.
Yet, I knelt comfortably on my knees giving thanks and praise to the One who created and held all these powerful forces at a comfortable distance from me and those around me.
Speeds so fast that objects colliding would pulverize massive rocks and planets (and me!) into dust.
Yet rocks so steady that man could predictably build structures and churches on them that would last for eons.
Light so magnificent as to blind, and darkness so black as to render vision useless.
And yet, I could see all beauty in His sanctuary around me clearly, as a rainbow of color filtered gently through the stained glass above onto the sanctuary before me.
Weight, heat, pressure, speed, light…forces so great and vast they are almost incomprehensible.
Yet I sat quietly pondering them, as many do, safely in classrooms, offices and laboratories around the globe, and places of similar comforts as my church.
Who did I have to thank for the extremes out there that awed me, and the gentle surroundings that held me in safety and comfort?
The very One before me, in His sanctuary, who created all.
Thanks and praise to our great and mighty, yet merciful and loving, God.
May God, the author of all forces, be with you today and always.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“When I am in the world, I am the Light of the World.” John 9: 39
“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven..” Matthew 5:14-16
If you had a soundtrack for your life, what would it sound like?
Mine, and many others, would sound like our beloved Phil and Amy Switalski.
Our St. Christopher parish recently witnessed another close call potential loss that ended well for us, and many prayers were answered by God’s mercy in the process.
Our parish recently witnessed wonderful stories of God’s mercy and saving grace when our parish school was saved from closing.
We also witnessed a miracle as our very own Super Man, Nick Karas, returned to worship at church with us following months of recovery from a near fatal collision with a train.
God is good.
Then we were informed last week that we would be losing one of our two parish music ministers due to budgetary cuts that were needed in the parish. Our music ministers, Phil and Amy Switalski, a married couple, have been co-music directors at our parish for over 20 years. Our pastor recently announced that our parish could not afford to keep two music ministers on staff, so he had to make a difficult decision to let one of them go. Obviously this would be a difficult decision because Phil and Amy are married and letting one of them go could possibly lead to losing both of them.
Our music ministry has been robust and beloved by many under Phil and Amy’s leadership. Not only are they both talented musicians, and choir leaders, but they both have wonderful voices individually, and bring a rich balance to our music when they sing as a male and female duet.
I remember meeting Phil and Amy before I got married 20 years ago. Phil and Amy were also a young couple, engaged too as I recall. Their partnership in life and music has been a blessing to the music and faith life of our parish.
About 8 years ago after I moved back to St. Christopher parish after many years of living away, I was pondering how blessed we were to have Phil and Amy in our parish as music ministers for many years. I was trying to think of some way to express my appreciation for their music and ministry. I heard an expression on a local radio station that promoted the station as “The Soundtrack of Our Lives”. It seemed a perfect expression to apply to Phil and Amy.
Phil and Amy were the musician’s for my wedding. They also sang and played at various funerals in our parish including my father’s. They also were the musical voices for our Sunday and Holiday worship services, including Christmas and Easter celebrations for many years. They help to make our worship of The Lord rich, joyous and moving.
I pulled together some photos from my wedding and other events and services at St. Christopher into a photo collage and put the collage in a 5×7 frame around the words “The Soundtrack of Our Lives” and gave that frame to Phil and Amy as a tangible expression of my appreciation for Phil and Amy and their music.
A couple years later I connected with them and they expressed that they still had the photo frame with the “Soundtrack of Our Lives” expression and displayed it proudly in their home.
This weekend when they announced that that they found a way to keep both Phil and Amy as our music co-directors by Phil and Amy making some sacrifices in their income, I ran into Phil and Amy at breakfast after Sunday mass and expressed to them how happy I was, and we were as a family, and parish, that they were still going to be our music ministers. They humbly thanked me.
We are so blessed to have Phil and Amy as the “Soundtrack of Our Lives” at St. Christopher, and I hope they can stay with us for many years to come. They are more than music ministers; they are fellow parishioners, and more importantly, beloved people and friends.
Please sponsor me in the Relay for Life…or join my team and walk with me!
I just registered to walk in this year’s Relay for Life fundraising event for the American Cancer Society at Lewis University on April 12th, 2014 starting at 6pm. I’ve walked several times in recent years and raised hundreds of dollars to fight cancer.
You can click on the following link to go to my personal page where you can make a donate to sponsor me and help me attain my pledge goal.
You can also join my team there and then come walk with me!
My team is a Lewis Alumni team and I ask my fellow alumni friends to consider signing up and coming out to join me in the Relay and the fight on cancer.
You do not have to be an alumnus to join my team.
When you sign up you will get your own page where you can raise pledges online and ask your friends to join you.
We can make a party out of it! We can bring snacks and refreshments, and talk and catch up while we walk.
I walk in memory of my father who died from cancer in 2009, and also commemorate my uncle Don and uncle Tom who died from cancer this past year. Walking to commemorate loved ones who have died from cancer is a great way to honor their memory. There is a special time of the walk when they dim the lights and light lumenaria round the track and we can think of and pray on our loved ones.
And this year some of my children will be joining me for the first time. Bring your loved ones and make it a family event. It’s a great way to teach your kids awareness of societal issues and foster care and concern for people who are battling cancer.
If you have questions, post them in the Comments section below and I will answer them as soon as possible.
Hope to see you there, and thank you for considering a pledge/donation to this worthy cause.
This month my blog hit a couple of milestones. Yesterday I posted my 100th post. I also noted that my blog was created in March of 2009 making my blog 5 years old this month. Each year my blog has gotten better and better in both content and hits.
Here is a list of my All-Time top 100 posts over 5 years by number of hits. (Actually there are 103 listed – includes the 100 posts, plus stats on my Home page, and the About Ed and Reviews pages) The first one is my blog’s home page. But 3 of the top 5 were blog stories I posted just this year getting 2014 out to my blog’s best year yet. You can click on the links to read the posts with titles that interest you. And give some love to the posts all the way down the list – some of Ed’s Best Posts aren’t necessarily the most read. Enjoy!
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On this, my 100th post on this blog, I want to celebrate the occasion by writing about something very special….actually, someone very special — my mother, Barbara.
As many of you know, my mom is one special lady. And that makes me one very blessed son.
I wouldn’t be here without my mother. You can quote me on that.
I’m going to share some reflections and stories about my mom here, and invite you to share your own in the Comments section below.
My mom is very humble and she’s not going to like reading this. She is a behind-the-scenes type of person and prefers to stay out of the spotlight.
But I’ve written several stories on this blog about my dad, and my mom is due for some words of appreciation of her own.
My mom was born the 5th of 8 children in her family. She was raised Catholic and attended St. Christina Parish Catholic grade school in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood of southwest Chicago. Family and Catholic values were ingrained from an early age and always most important to her.
My mom was a very beautiful young woman. Here she is in her high school senior class photo.
My dad lucked out winning her heart. She did ok herself when she said “I do” to him. They were a very handsome young couple. It’s no wonder their firstborn turned out to be so adorable.
My mom is the best mom I ever had. Heck, she’s the only mom I ever had.
And I can’t imagine anyone having a better mom than I do.
Mom is very selfless, loving and thoughtful of others. Check out the photos in the Dreams of Bozo story on my blog. You won’t see my mom in the photos. My mom would have been the one behind the camera taking the picture so us kids had photos to remember the experience by. And of course mom orchestrated the whole Bozo show outing, having planned it years in advance as there was a 7 year waiting list for tickets to the Bozo show. Mom made wonderful memories happen for us often, and the best ones always involved our family.
My mom liked the expression “Give them roots and wings”. She believed it was important to give my brother and I strong roots of family and faith. And she believed in making sacrifices so my brother and I got good educations that would help us fly like eagles in life. We both have Masters degrees and success in professional life. My brother is a Catholic priest. I’ve made a living in the business world.
When I was about 12 years old my dad’s brother and his wife divorced. His ex-wife and 4 of his kids came to live with us for 6 months until they could get into their own place. It was not easy living. Some women wouldn’t have done that, taking another family into her home like that. My mom not only did, but did so lovingly. My cousin recently wrote some nice words for my mom about how good she was to them. It was the right and kind thing to do. That is how my mom is and that is what I learned from her.
My mom posed with her firstborn “baby” for this photo on my 13th birthday. It is one of my favorites with her.
Christmas is my mom’s favorite holiday, and she makes Christmas special for so many of us. My brother and I have many wonderful Christmas memories with her, and so does our large extended family. My mom has hosted my dad’s family for Christmas Eve since we were kids. Even though my dad is gone she still hostesses Christmas Eve’s for his side of the family at no small effort to clean, decorate, shop and cook to make Christmas warm and loving for us all.
My mom is active in our parish church. She works in the parish office and knows most everyone in the community. She has been a CCD teacher in the past, an RCIA leader, a Eucharist minister, served on Mother’s Club and been active on the Rosary Altar Society. She ran the snack stand in the school gym for years for bingo on Tuesday nights and basketball games.
And she has touched a lot of lives over the years. Many people have come up to me to tell me nice things about my mom and share the ways that my mom has touched their lives and helped them in various ways at pivotal times.
I’m so proud to be her son.
My mom has taught me so much in life. And still does.
Following my own divorce I’ve been living with my mom for the past couple years. She is a wonderful grandmother and has been so helpful and supportive to me, and my children who live with us part-time. I don’t know what I’d have done without her.
I can never repay my mom for all she has done for me over the years, nor never thank her enough. I am guilty of taking her for granted at times, though I try not to. She has always been there sustaining me, like the ground beneath my feet or the wind beneath my wings.
Thank you, mama.
As I was thinking about what to write about my mom in this post, I thought of a hundred reasons and stories about my mom that filled me with warmth, love and joy. I wrote about only a handful of them here. But could have shared so many more. What a treasure she is.
And, as I ponder how she got to be who and how she is, and what her motivation is for doing all she does, I can only witness that she loves Jesus and works to live out the Good News of Jesus in her life. She attends mass on Sundays, Saturdays and Holy Days. She reads the Gospels and spiritual reflections in the mornings. She prays. She does works out of love. She tries to bring the love of Christ to our family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers.
As I celebrate my 100th blog story, I celebrate the woman who gave me life, formed who I am, and has always been there for me in every way and circumstance I’ve needed her. And I still need her. I am thankful to God for the great blessing of her.
In His hands, my mom is a work of art.
Help me celebrate my mom, Barbara Novick, by leaving her a note with a special memory or two of your own in the Comments section below.
This is the story of how I lost my two front teeth and how they helped me to reconnect with old friends.
When I was a kid ages 2 to 8 I lived on the southwest side of Chicago at 87th and Damen. I have happy memories there.
There was a nice family living down the street with a boy who was a couple years older than me. His name was Paul. He was a nice all-American kid. Paul would often play with my brother and I. Paul had a older sister. Her name was Marilyn. We called her Mayo.
I remember when I was around 7 years old, I would walk down the street to their house and call on them to play. Maybe I couldn’t reach the doorbell, or maybe it was just customary, but I remember in the summer going to their side/back door down their gangway (a Chicago term for the walkway between two closely built houses) and calling out “Yooo, Paul! Yooo, Mayo!” If someone was home they would answer, and if they were home they would come out to play.
One game we played in our basement was Critter. That was over 40 years ago, but I still remember Critter. My little brother Michael was the critter, and he would chase Paul and I around our basement and our pool table. Paul and I were faster than Michael, so we would evade him somewhat easily, but we always made it interesting so that the critter didn’t give up. Sometimes Michael would fall and get hurt on our slippery floor in his socks. Paul had a fix for that. We didn’t want to get in trouble for getting Michael hurt. Paul would have to get Michael laughing fast. He had this song he would sing to the toon of the Pink Panther music. It was used on a commercial for a Pink Panther Flakes breakfast cereal. “Pink Panther Flakes are pink, and sweet as the Pink Panther cause they’re pink….tickle me pink”. The song always seemed to get Mikey laughing and we could resume our play of Critter without incident.
On one occasion of playing Critter, Paul and I were running around the pool table avoiding the critter when Paul slid on the floor in his socks and as he fell back his arms went back as he tried catching his balance and I was next to him and the back of his hand smashed into my mouth knocking out my two front teeth and sending them flying and making my mouth bleed.
That is the story of how I lost my two front teeth and having this picture taken, the only photo I have of my friends Paul and Marilyn/Mayo.
We moved away when I was 8 years old, keeping in touch with them briefly, but then losing touch for many, many years. But I never forgot our dear friends Paul and Mayo.
About 4 years ago, over 35 years later, I looked up Paul and Marilyn on Facebook. Their last name was somewhat common, so there were a few to choose from. I didn’t find Paul, but I found a Marilyn who might be my long lost friend, so I wrote to her asking if she was my friend from 87th and Damen. I soon received a “OMG Eddie Novick!” and I knew I had found my long lost friend. We’ve since chatted online and become friends again.
Like me, Marilyn is a writer. She has a blog. Her blog is called Life on a Box Wine Budget. It is good reading. She has a wonderful sense of humor. She has also collaborated to write a couple of book. You can order them online and read them. Just go to Amazon.com and look for Living The Dream On A Box Wine Budget by Casey Quinn and Petrina Collins (pseudonyms) or her latest book Numb by Casey Quinn (pseudonym).
I still haven’t see Marilyn and Paul in over 40 years. But through the miracle of modern technology I am back in touch with Mayo. I hope to meet Mayo and Paul someday and reminisce about our days growing up on the southwest side of Chicago, going to St. Ethelreda School, eating French fries at the corner restaurant, calling on our friends in their gangway, playing bounce and fly baseball in the alley behind our houses and losing teeth playing Critter. Good times.