I was born in Roswell, NM. A few years ago upon learning this about me a Priest and friend, announced to everyone in the chapel, “Ah, now that explains it.” We all laugh, yet in a strange way I have felt the resemblance to the alien hoopla that surrounds Roswell and the mystery associated with being on a spiritual journey.
Growing up in the late ‘60s and ‘70s I was part of a generation spent on slogans like ‘make peace not war’ wrestling with social change and unrest. With “peace sign” posters and carrying around an over-sized “peace sign” key chain I became the senior class president of my high school. Being part of a family that ran a family business my activities were divided between school, basketball and helping in the retail/service business. I enjoyed marketing and finding ways to influence people in their buying decisions. Studying the art of advertising I became aware how desire works through the “model.” Applying this knowledge to business brought success yet I could not let go of seeing myself as autonomous - free of the “model.”
Shell Games to Faith
In 1997 I found myself in Leadership McLean County and participating in a community service project for the local domestic violence shelter. The project was to create an awareness campaign which I felt right at home with, however the message of the campaign was gut-wrenching and disturbing to my very core. I thought that in all my trendy “peace” studies I would have had a clue what violence is all about, but then I meet, Domestic. The awareness campaign revealed how our ideologies conjure up peace, when deep down it is nothing more than a shell game, simply hiding the little marble under one of the shells, always moving it from one to the other shell. Interviews with the DV survivors, those who had moved on from the bitterness, pain and resentment cause by the violence, all modeled a faith to such a degree that I had never witnessed before.
Soon after that experience my spiritual director suggested I look into the Franciscan way of life and at the same time she handed me a brochure to the Shalem Institute’s 'Soul of the Executive Program'. I found that the Franciscan Charism fit like a glove and the well structured program of Shalem provided the opportunity for renewal and ways to seek spiritual wisdom, vision and clarity. Both of these paths helped me to probe my relationships with others, with God and with myself. They provided a foundation to clear the debris and noise from my life allowing me to undergo God and to listen to the exceedingly peaceful yet powerful meaning of Love from God who is wanting to speak to us.
When exploring how one “comes alive” we discover how instrumental memory is and how that memory has and is expressing itself out over the course of one’s life. For me ever since I can remember I have explored the questions of “why we desire what we do?” and “why is there so much violence in our world?” These questions have led to the inspiring and stimulating anthropological insights of French thinker René Girard. And most recently the path following these questions have led to being commissioned as a spiritual director by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria (see this LINK).
Along with these personal passions, my wife Ann and I reinvigorate our spirits, at least once a year, by going on retreats; we are active members of St Mary’s Catholic Church in Bloomington; involved in Cursillo; and are professed in the Order of Secular Franciscans.
Lastly, In Two Tramps in Mud Time Robert Frost sums up how I wish to live my life:
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done