John Glenn (1921-2016)

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John Glenn is an American Hero. I do not use that description lightly. I’ve known John Glenn’s name since I was a child. I’ve spoken about my memories of the Moon Landing in 1969 and my love of Star Trek throughout my life, but John Glenn epitomized so many of the passions in my life.

I didn’t want to be a princess; I wanted to be an astronaut (and about a thousand other things). I watched anything space related that was televised including shuttle launches and landings. I’ve visited the Air and Space Museum at The Smithsonian. I took my class on a field trip to the Cradle of Aviation “museum” at Roosevelt Field when it was just a warehouse, but it had the space equipment to see and explore. I can still remember visiting Kennedy Space Center on one of our family trips to Florida. I still have a stuffed astronaut doll/pillow in a plastic bag somewhere in my garage. Even the mold on it won’t get me to throw it away. I have horrible, vivid memories of the Challenger.

John Glenn was a pioneer; a space man. He was gthe last surviving member of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. He was the first American to orbit the Earth and was only the fifth man in space. Prior to that he was a member of the Marine Corps and he flew combat missions in World War II and the Korean War. He broke a transcontinental speed record flying from Los Angeles to New York, going at supersonic speed. He was a Senator from Ohio, serving four terms with the Democratic party, leaving his mark on my political junkie self. And then after all of that, he returned to space again, becoming the oldest man to travel in space when he served aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Remarkable.

And more important than those milestones was the kind of person he was. Kind and thougtful, patriotic and dedicated, gracious and never losing sight of where he was from and still encouraging new generations to strive upward and onward, ever moving forward.

Please read this remembrance from journalist, Connie Schultz:

Difficult to Fathom a World without Gracious Hero John Glenn

The New York Times Profile

John Glenn’s NASA Profile

Original Art. Colored pencils. (c)2016

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

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It’s funny how year after year we do things, like observe or celebrate days, and they pass without extra thought.

Today is December 8th and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.It is a holy day of obligation, but I think that even if it weren’t, as our church is named for this feast, we would still enjoy our patron’s day.

At church today, we had the Mass, filled with music followed by hospitality in the gathering space. Sweet breads with apples, cranberries, nuts. Clementines. All varieties of bagels. Coffee, tea, water and juice. Our hospitality ministry really outdoes itself each and every time.

We celebrate Mary’s conception, but we also talk about and remember her Son’s conception, the annunciation, the visitation, the assumption, all the things Mary represents. Our musical director has a beautiful voice, and sings Ave Maria, a rendition that makes me want to simply close my eyes and open my ears and let the prayer rest on my heart.

It wasn’t until later, until after I left, as I thought about all the ways I’m attached to Mary, as a mother, as a daughter, putting the world ahead of her own needs as all mothers do. We give to our kids all the time; so much so that we often don’t even notice we’re doing it.

I glanced at the calendar and realized quite suddenly that my mother died twelve years ago today. I hadn’t noticed because for her yartzeit, her memorial candle, we follow the Jewish calendar, and so her anniversary is the first night of Chanukah, which changes each year. This year it is on Christmas Eve, so that is the date on my mind, but physically, it was today.

She died before I wandered into the church, so I never made the association before today. My mother shares her day with Mary, Mother of All.

It was comforting.