A few months ago, Mike heard a story on NPR about six-word memoirs. NPR interviewed folks from Smith Magazine who asked people to capture their life in six-words. They received an overwhelming number of submissions.
Here are some examples:
Had religious experience at grocery store.
I’ve been blessed with second chances.
I still make coffee for two.
As typical (lame) Church workers, this led us to wonder how people would write Jesus’ six-word memoir.
We asked some of our friends for their six-word memoirs for Jesus. Many sent us a slew of six-word memoirs, so we pared it down to one response per person. We made a list of about 35 responses below.
Check them out and and come up with your own. If you feel so moved, share it in the comments section. Enjoy!
Never threw one stone. Liked riddles. / John Bradley
Stay calm, have faith in me. (Turned water into wine. How cool!?!?) / Howie Brown
I am here for you always. / Lori Boccuzzi
Died for you. Keep in touch. / Katie Scarlett O’Hara Calcutt
I would do anything for love. / Lenny DeLorenzo
Tried my best…Love changed everything. / Melody Duffy
Let me wash how I wish. / Isaac Garcia
Bring good news to the poor. / Colleen Gibson
I died so you could love. / Kathleen Glackin
Sent to save. Condemned. Will return. / PJ Glackin
I am. Continuing to cause change. / Jana Hambley
Behold, I make all things new. / Kathy Haninger
Friends were fishermen, prostitutes, tax collectors. / Gen Jordan
Taught love; only seemed to fail. / Paul Kollman, CSC
Loved you unto death, on cross. / Nic Kovatch
Started out carpenter. Significant career change. / Mike Laskey
Radical service, radical love. Follow me. / Jonathan Lewis
Humble to death on a cross. / John Paul Lichon
Loved unto death. Restored friends’ life. / Patrick Manning
From manger to resurrection, for you. / Bethanne Mascio
I came so they could live. / Anne Milne
Teaches, cries with us, the poor. / Paul Mitchell
I hang where others do not! / Kevin Moran
I came. I loved. I rose. / Kevin Mohan
Love each other. It’s that simple. / Katie Muller
Love is all that I require. / Widian Nicola
Stranger in a strange land. Going home. / Michael O’Connor
I came, I died, I conquered. / Anthony Paz
That you might have abundant life. / Michael Rossmann, SJ
I loved you, I still do. / Jaclyn Senior
Born poor so you’ll be rich. / Aimee Shelide
To make them know My love. /Ellen Voegele
For you I give my everything. / Anna Waechter
Taught God’s love, was crucified- resurrected. / Leora Wallace
I love you. Go do likewise. / Lindsay Wilcox
Life in Communion. Miracles. Inviting Resurrection. / Felipe Witchger
Here are two more from folks who already have memoirs listed above, but since both fit well with Pentecost themes, we’re sending them with you as a Pentecost blessing:
This post features guest blogger Jonathan Lewis. Jonathan is a fellow twentysomething working for the Catholic Church. After graduating from The Catholic University of America in 2008, he headed to Notre Dame for his MA in Theology, through the Echo Faith Formation Leadership Program (in the same class with Mike and me). Jonathan currently works as the Director of Religious Education at Mount Lady of Carmel Catholic Church in Mill Valley, California.
The recent announcement of the assassination of Osama Bin Laden causes me to reflect on one of Jesus’ more uncomfortable teachings: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Sit with this and say it again: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Bin Laden’s death carries with it a variety of emotions; it is rare that we have such a visceral reaction to one of our “enemies.” Because of this, it is important to sit with that feeling and to allow God’s love, peace, mercy and presence to dwell within us. Faith is not something added on to our lives for convenience but should be our source, especially in times of great emotion both in joy and in sorrow. I rejoice that Bin Laden will no longer be able to inflict evil and pain on this world, but I am also saddened that his heart was so hardened and I pray for his soul and for those of his followers.
My response is that I may “be the change [I] want to see in the world” (Ghandi) and that I may allow peace to begin with me. We are called to transform the world and we are offered an amazing moment to transform the world today. This is not easy but this is the radical love that we are called to, which counteracts the evils of terrorism and violence. May we emulate the heart of God our Father to hold both justice and mercy in our hearts.
This news came on the same day when Pope John Paul II was declared Blessed and 1.5 million gathered to join in prayer and celebration of holiness. His words continue to resonate:
Let there be an end to the chain of hatred and terrorism, which threatens the orderly development of the human family.
May faith and love of God make the followers of every religion courageous builders of understanding and forgiveness, patient weavers of a fruitful inter-religious dialogue, capable of inaugurating a new era of justice and peace.
- Blessed John Paul II, Easter Message, April 20, 2003
Here’s a quick inventory of some great places on the Internet that celebrate life in some form or other. It’s true that the Web can be a destructive place, and drive us away from real life into some parallel world, but it can also be a peerless resource.
In no particular order, a Top 10 List of Spots on the Web that Celebrate Life.
1) 1000 Awesome Things. Neil Pasricha’s life was falling apart a few years ago when he launched this site compiling a list of, well, awesome things. Great to peruse and a nice testament to the power of hope in the midst of personal darkness.
2) StoryCorps. From NPR, “Our mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.” Listen to some stories right there on the site, which cover an extremely wide range. Also see The Moth.
3) Kiva. A really great way to spend $25, Kiva provides micro-loans for individuals and groups in developing areas all over the world that primarily go toward helping them start up or maintain businesses. You can select a region and business, and often are able to see photos and read the story of the folks you’re lending to. Small loans from Kiva users are pooled together, given to the recipient, and then slowly repaid. I’ve already used the same $25 three different times in a year and a half.
4) Dropbox. Store stuff in the cloud, and access it from any computer. So what? Well, you can also share folders with friends. My three best friends from college and I, who share a deep love of music, have started using Dropbox to share albums with each other. It’s not quite bringing a burned disc to the dorm room over, but it’s not half-bad, and it’s started a long chain of enjoyable e-mails.
5) Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir. Using YouTube, contemporary composer Eric Whitacre assembled a choir of hundreds of voices from across the world. Each person records him/herself singing, uploads the video, and Whitacre’s team puts it all together.
6) Improv Everywhere. They create “scenes of chaos and joy in public places,” and record the results for the benefit of all.
7) Joe Posnanski on Cliff Lee. From (for my money) the best baseball writer we have today, check out this stirring piece on the masterful southpaw Cliff Lee, who utterly baffled my beloved Yankees in the playoffs last year. Posnanski recaps Lee’s performance, with biographical bits interspersed that reflect on Lee’s rise from mediocrity to greatness.
8) Moments. This video is a collage that captures the beauty of ordinary life moments. (A few shots might not be best for sensitive viewers, and the film includes some moments that fall outside of a Catholic moral framework. I still think it’s worth watching, without endorsing all of the content.)
9) Sacred Space. This wildly (and deservedly) popular site in the Catholic world provides daily ten-minute mini-retreats, right at your computer. Great for recharging.
10) Angels Landing eHike. Zion National Park in Utah was my favorite stop on a family trip west a few years ago. Unlike Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon — also wonderful, clearly — visitors to Zion are based on the canyon floor, hiking up instead of down. The Angels Landing hike was awesome (like, truly awesome), and the National Park Service put together this neat “eHike,” which just makes me want to go back. What incredible works of creation our country has.
Any more ideas for this collection?
Yesterday, Gen wrote about the devastating tornadoes in the American Southeast, and about trying to maintain Easter hope in a world that so often seems firmly planted in Good Friday. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the thousands of lives forever altered by the storms.
Today, for me, was a day of inconvenience, not tragedy; frustration, not sorrow. Today I learned what my itching arms had suspected: there are bed bugs in my apartment.
Life certainly comes with our own personal tornadoes, those shocking moments of anguish that we’ll never forget. In my experience, though, “bed bug days” are more common, full of mid-level disappointments and challenges and inconveniences. We’re called to remember our Easter hope on those days, too.
I did no such remembering today. Quite the opposite. I almost lost it, running around a bit like Gene Hackman in The Conversation, obsessively tearing my apartment apart in search of the bugs (pun intended) and washing all of my clothing, even the clean stuff. There was action to be taken, to be sure, but my spirit was all over the place.
I didn’t take a second to breathe and readjust my perspective. I didn’t ask God for help, or even yell at him. I was short with Gen. (In fact, I think I’m only able to write this at all tonight because a maintenance guy came and sprayed and said I have a very minimal problem, miles away from an infestation [knock on wood].)
My prayer tonight is for the grace to remember and call on the risen Christ when things kind of suck a little. Calm my frazzles, God, and give me patience, prudence, and a really good exterminator. Amen.
When Mike presented our Easter week project, he promised we’d post a daily reminder of the resurrection through the Octave of Easter. It feels forced and inauthentic to name signs of resurrection when the death toll from tornadoes in the South pushed three hundred.
So all I have is a few thoughts and a prayer.
Mike mentioned that his pastor, Fr. Vince, said that while the world may be in Good Friday, we are an Easter people.
What does it mean to be an Easter people while this kind of devastation happens?
It means something different for folks who are living the trauma then it does for those of us who are safely in front of computers and TVs, as we click through pictures of demolished neighborhoods and gasp at Twister-like footage.
I have no idea what it means, for them or for us. I do know that especially in the midst of something like this, we can’t dismiss the question: How do we be an Easter people, when the world is in Good Friday?
Embrace all who have been killed or injured this week by tornadoes in the South.
Send your peace to those whose family, friends,
homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces
have been ripped away.
Root compassion deep in our hearts,
that we will listen and answer our call
to reach out to those who we can help–
through generous giving
acts of service
intentional time for prayer.
Make clear what it means for each of us to live Easter in a Good Friday world.
Be with us in the tension
as we wrestle with how there could be a God like you,
who died for us that we might be free–
and yet still allows us to live
in the bondage of natural disaster and moral evil.
Give us the grace to transform the world into your kingdom,
by living out the call to be who we really are–
so that the light of your resurrection
might slowly dawn on the darkness of Good Friday.
In March, the poet, essayist, novelist, cultural critic and farmer Wendell Berry was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama. His deep connection to land, place, community and faith combine to form a unique voice in contemporary American letters. My favorite collection of Berry’s is A Timbered Choir: Sabbath Poems 1979-1997, which gathers poems inspired by his weekly Sunday walks through his farm and surrounding land. The hot weather here in NJ and the Easterly emergence of new color and life outside brought Berry to mind.
The poem I’ve selected for this post comes from his 1973 collection The Country of Marriage. It’s called “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” and it powerfully criticizes the me-first, materialistic status quo while energizing readers to “every day do something that won’t compute.” I think it has some powerful nuggets that could spark us through the Easter season. And on a personal, gooey note, Gen gave this poem to me back at the very beginning of things, and it was the first of Berry’s I had read. Thanks, Gen.
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.