Letter From New York May 4, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

I am traveling on an Acela; as always, I find time on trains a good time to reflect. The greening countryside is rolling by; a soft rain is falling – it’s on the dark and drear side. Good contemplative time.

Osama bin Laden is dead and that has filled the newspapers and the minds of the world the last few days.

But my mind is much more on the weekend I have just experienced. Business had taken me to Minneapolis last Friday; I stayed over for the weekend. The trip began magically. Early for my flight, I went for coffee. Two ladies were behind the counter. As I finished paying they got great smiles on their face and beamed at me, telling me I was the best put together person they had seen for awhile. My hair, my glasses, the color of my shirt, my demeanor – I was a good looking, well put together man and they thought I should know. I didn’t know what to say, except thank you and what a wonderful way to start the day, the trip. I smiled back. And walked away, shaking my head, glad for the “God Shot.” I wasn’t feeling any of those things at that moment, having roused myself at oh dark hundred to catch the flight.

The business meetings went well and I segued into a dinner with my friend Christine Olson. We talked for hours and she blessed me with an affirmation of the importance of our friendship over the years. The next morning I had brunch with my sister-in-law, Sally, who looked radiant and centered. I basked in the long, good years we have loved each other, having liked her from the moment I met her in my pre-pubescent years.

Coffee followed with another old friend, Jean Cronin Olson, who had written me at Christmas, hoping for coffee my next visit. Sitting down and chatting, we picked up as if we had spoken the week before. And that was followed by time with another friend who is in recovery. I observed that people in recovery are usually much more open with their emotions and thoughts. He agreed; for them it is a matter of life and death. That set me thinking on how much better we would all be if we were better able to articulate our feelings, our emotions, fears and joys to one another rather than stuffing them down, killing them with substances or releasing them through violence.

There was a family dinner on Saturday night. My brother, his friend Deb, two of my nieces, the oldest, Kristin, and the youngest, Theresa, her boyfriend Steve, all gathered at a round table in a restaurant, La Chaya Bistro. We laughed. We teased. We cried. Theresa sat next to me and held my hand quietly for a while, occasionally resting her head on my shoulder. Thinking of it, I feel tears on the edges of my eyes. Kristin and I laughed. My brother and I teased each other, laughing hardily over things in the past.

Later that night Kristin and I texted. She affirmed me. Hopefully I affirmed her. Sunday was more family, more affirmation and then the flight home, wrapped in the quiet of travel and thought, realizing I had had the best visit to my hometown I had ever had, feeling from the time I ordered my coffee on the way out, I was bathed in love, moving towards integration of past and present with a glimpse of future goodness, looking for time with those I love and who love me.

I experienced the magic of family and love while across the world, we hunted down the greatest criminal of our time, a man who somewhere lost his ability to comprehend and respect our common humanity, regardless of religion. It is only through common respect, if not love, we will survive our burgeoning troubles and challenges.

The strength gained this weekend is helping me face my challenges. May the same happen for all.

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