Tidbits of Joy #1

Often I find myself reading and thinking and wanting to write about Serious Things. For instance, I just finished reading a book about rehabilitation of Los Angeles gang members. I’m currently reading Mrs. Dalloway for an online book discussion. (Virginia Woolf is just … so … depressing.). And a copy of Dave Cullen’s Columbine is waiting for me at the library. A bit heavy and dark, eh? So I plan to break things up with a series of mini posts called Tidbits of Joy about things that are making me smile at the moment. Maybe they’ll make you smile too.

*** Linking up posts with What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer

The Amazon Kindle App on my phone: I deeply regret replacing my iPhone with an Android. It was a bad decision that will haunt me until my next upgrade. But I’m slowly learning to live with my mistake with the help of great apps. Although the Kindle app is pretty standard on any smart phone or other device, I only recently started using it, so it’s new to me. I love having a book with me wherever I go. I read more, and I read faster. I nerd it up with the highlighting feature. I still prefer real books, but right now, e-books are perfect for me.

Podcasts: Podcasts have been around for years, but their popularity is picking up speed. I love to listen while I do stuff around the house, ride in the car, take a walk, etc. I use the Podcast Addict app on my phone to subscribe to and download a variety of shows. (iTunes and Stitcher are other popular ways to listen.) Podcasts can be educational, inspirational, or purely entertaining. Some of my favorites:

The Voice is back: I absolutely love this show. I am very far behind on this season, but I’ve DVRd all the episodes and am slowly working my way through the blind auditions. Unlike many of the American Idol contestants, most of The Voice contestants are talented artists. I love the banter among the judges, even though it’s all staged. I especially love when Adam Levine sings along while he’s trying to decide whether or not to turn his chair. It’s a happy show.

That’s all for now!

Simple Gifts from Pope Francis

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Joseph Brackett, 1848
I’ve been walking around with the day-after-Christmas feeling lately, the half-happy/half-sad twinge when the celebration is still fresh but you know it’ll be a long time before it all happens again.

My free moments of September 22-27 were spent keeping tabs on Pope Francis during his travels through DC, New York, and Philadelphia. This was an easy task, since major news channels and social media tracked his every move. I checked my Twitter feed often, following James Martin, SJ and Jim Gaffigan for updates on the pope’s whereabouts, and sometimes turned on CNN to watch the live events. Although I’d been looking forward to the papal visit and knew it was kind of a big deal, I was still surprised by how many hundreds of thousands of people lined up and tuned in to catch a glimpse of the popemobile. The pope reality TV show, as my husband Dave called it, went on for six days straight.

Now the show’s over. The pope and his entourage have left the U.S. But Pope Francis left behind some gifts for us to receive, if we want them, and to share. During his time in this country, Francis walked, rode, flew, and spoke right to as many of us as he could reach, and his message was simple: whether you are Speaker of the House or homeless on the street or a first grader or a retiree, whether you were born in the U.S. or just arrived, whether you are growing in your mother’s womb or waiting on death row, you are loved. This message, which we’ve heard for over two thousand years, is often either forgotten or garbled, and I’m thankful for Pope Francis’s tireless efforts to express it through word and deed. I want to be more like him.

I’m also grateful to the pope for several additions to my Book Bucket List. During his speech to Congress, he highlighted four Americans – Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton, “who for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future.” Although I know a bit about each of them and even read Dorothy Day’s The Long Loneliness in high school, now I’m curious to learn more. So I’ll eventually make my way through these books, which belong to my favorite genre: Stories about People Who Aren’t Perfect But Do Good Anyway:

Side Notes: