Saturday, February 23, 2019

A Reflection

When you see a sunset, do you say, “It’s too bright - not enough color, too much orange?”
Probably not. You just accept it and maybe thank God for the gift. 

And when you walk through a forest, do you say, “The trees are too tall. The leaves on that one are the wrong shape. It has the wrong shade of green, too. Too many leaves on that one. 
Probably not! You probably just accept it – and maybe say thanks for the gift of the forest.

We are God’s children. We are greater than any sunset, any forest. And we’re great because God made us and because God loves us. Maybe we should stop beating ourselves up and start saying thank you a few more times.

I have a hunch, by the way, that when we meet God, we will be asked, “How did you like those sunsets? What about the mountains and the streams and the sea-shores? What about balloons and roller coasters?

He probably won’t say, “Well you could have spent more time alone in the office!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Love

We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor's arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: "If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don't know what is happening to us."

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which Man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of Man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when Man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position Man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”

Victor Frankl

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ten days from now, March 6, 2019, we observe Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  It is not too early for us to begin considering what we will take on or give up during Lent.  Most of us give things up – eating meat on Fridays, sugar and sweets, alcohol and tobacco, television, movies, computer games and other forms of entertainment.  Others of us take on something - attending daily mass, spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament, participating in the Stations of the Cross, or praying an extra Rosary.  These are all laudable endeavors.  In today’s gospel, Luke 6: 27 – 38, Jesus gives us some challenges to consider in these days before Lent. 

I call these the iron challenges (like Iron Man competitions).  For us it can be the Iron Christian Challenge:
  1. If you are angry with someone or about something – give it up.
  2. If you hate someone or something – give it up.
  3. If you are judgmental or condemning – give it up.
  4. If you are hurt because someone has wronged you – give it up.
  5. If there is someone you need to forgive – forgive them.
  6. If someone hates you – forgive them.
  7. If someone is angry with you – apologize.
  8. If someone is your enemy – pray for them. 
  9. Be generous with everything you have and expect nothing in return.
  10. Love everyone the way God loves you. 
If we can accomplish these challenges, Jesus promises us that “your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked” (Luke 6: 35). And he reminds us that “the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Luke 6: 38). 
Compassionate God and Father, 
you are kind to the ungrateful,
merciful even to the wicked.
Pour out your love upon us,
that with good and generous hearts 
we may keep from judging others 
and learn your way of compassion.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
God for ever and ever. 
AMEN.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Changes

Today I pray that I may understand there are some things I cannot change:
I cannot change the weather.
I cannot change the tick of the clock.
I cannot change the past.
I cannot change another person against their will.
I cannot change what is right or wrong.
I cannot change the fact that a relationship ended.
I can stop worrying over that which I cannot change and enjoy living more!
I can place those things into the hands of The One Bigger Than Me.
Save Energy!
Let Go!

Instead of trying to change someone else:
I can change my attitude.
I can change my list of priorities.
I can change my bad habits into good ones.
I can move from a place of brokenness into wholeness,  into the beautiful person God has created me to become.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A True Friend


Pillars

You may have heard writer Elizabeth Foley's insightful words: "Friends in your life are like pillars on your porch. Sometimes they hold you up and sometimes they lean on you. Sometimes it's just enough to know they're standing by." It's true. The difficulties of life are easier to manage with friends.

In the book Shindler’s Legacy, authors Elinor J. Brecher and Jill Freedman interview some of the people saved by the Nazi Oscar Schindler. One survivor says this about the sufferings of her life: "I survived Auschwitz and all the atrocities of the war. But the most difficult thing I ever had to face was losing my 39-year-old daughter to cancer."

The army of modern medicine could not save her daughter. This woman went through the war and concentration camp experience WITH people; she suffered alongside of them. But she fought this other terrible battle alone.

We are all survivors! In some way we have each encountered something potentially devastating, and we overcame. And the overcoming of it was easier with the companionship of others.

Isn't it true that very few burdens are heavy if everyone lifts? And for some reason they seem lighter when we just know that, though others may not be lifting, they are standing by.  If you're trying to lift a burden alone, this may be a good time to reach out. Others may be waiting to help lift. Or, like porch pillars, they may at least be there to lean on.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Spirituality


6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Although many of us tend to think of the beatitudes as a New Testament phenomenon, beatitudes are more prevalent in the Old Testament than in the New Testament.  There are 57 beatitudes in the Old Testament and we have examples in our first reading from Jeremiah 17:5-8 and responsorial psalm, Psalm 1.  A beatitude is a form of writing that declares “blessedness on the ground of some virtue or good fortune.”

When the people heard Jesus preach his Sermon on the Plain, today’s Gospel from Luke 6:17-26, they probably were familiar with the form his sermon took but the words he spoke were radical.  Jesus took all the secular standards of his day and turned them upside down.  The people who are well to do, well fed, well thought of and happy Jesus calls miserable.  And the people most of us consider to be miserable, people who are poor, hungry, grieving and hated Jesus calls blessed. 

These Beatitudes are the core of Jesus’ teaching and they are diametrically opposed to the worldly values of success and money and material possessions that are all around us.  They are just as challenging to us today as they were thousands of years ago when Jesus first spoke them.  Blessedness does not come from anything our world offers or values.  Blessedness comes from our recognition that God is the center of our universe.  Fame and fortune can be gone in an instant but God’s love for us is constant and abiding.  As Jeremiah reminds us “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.”

God our Father,
you appeal to us today through your Son
to choose freely and responsibly
the kind of happiness that endures.
Let the gospel of your Son shock us
into recognizing the emptiness and poverty
of material riches and human power
and fill our poverty
with the riches and freedom
of your truth, your love and justice,
which you offer us through Jesus,
your risen Son and our Lord forever.
Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Slow Me Down, Lord!

Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting on my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Teach me the art of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pet a dog, to read a few lines from a good book.  Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise, that I may know that the race is not always to the swift,  that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Slow me down, Lord,
and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny. That I may find you, my God.

Cardinal Cushing

I Love You

I Love You in different languages:

Afrikaans -  Ek het jou liefe
Afrikaans - Ek is lief vir jou
Alsacien - Ich hoan dich gear
Amharic - Afekrishalehou
Assamese - Moi tomak bhal pau
Basc Nere - Maitea
Batak - Holong rohangku di ho
Bavarian - I mog di narrisch gern
Bengali - Ami tomay bhalobashi
Bengali - Ami tomake bhalobashi.
Berber - Lakh tirikh
Bicol - Namumutan ta ka
Bolivian - Quechua qanta munani
Bulgarian - Obicham te
Burmese - chit pa de
Cambodian - Bon sro lanh oon
Cambodian - kh_nhaum soro_lahn nhee_ah
Canadian French - Sh'teme (spoken, sounds like this)
Cantonese - Ngo oi ney
Catalan - T'estim (mallorcan)
Catalan - T'estim molt (I love you a lot)
Catalan - T'estime (valencian)
Catalan - T'estimo (catalonian)
Cebuano - Gihigugma ko ikaw.
Chickasaw - chiholloli (first "i" nasalized)
Chinese - Wo ie ni
Corsican - Ti tengu cara (to female)
Corsican - Ti tengu caru (to male)
Croatian - LJUBim te
Czech - miluji te
Czech - miluju te! (colloquial form)
Danish - Jeg elsker dig
Dutch - Ik hou van jou
Dutch - Ik ben verliefd op je
Ecuador - Quechua canda munani
Esperanto - Mi amas vin
Estonian - Mina armastan sind
Estonian - Ma armastan sind
Farsi - Tora dust midaram
Farsi - Asheghetam
Farsi (Persian) - doostat dAram
Filipino - Mahal ka ta
Filipino - Iniibig Kita
Finnish - Mina" rakastan sinua
Flemish - Ik zie oe geerne
French - Je t'aime
Friesian - Ik hald fan dei
G
aelic - Ta gra agam ort
Galego (galicia) - querote (or) amote
German - Ich liebe Dich
Greek - s' agapo
Greek (old) - (Ego) philo su (ego is only for emphasis)
Gujrati - Hoon tane pyar karoochhoon.
Hausa - Ina sonki
Hebrew - Ani ohev otach (male to female)
Hebrew - Ani ohev otcha (male to male)
Hebrew - Ani ohevet otach (female to female)
Hebrew - Ani ohevet otcha (female to male)
Hindi - Mai tumse pyar karta hoo
Hokkien - Wa ai lu
Hopi - Nu' umi unangwa'ta
Hungarian - Szeretlek
Hungarian - Szeretlek te'ged
Icelandic - Eg elska thig
Indonesian - Saja kasih saudari
Indonesian - Saya Cinta Kamu
Indonesian - Saya cinta padamu
Indonesian - Aku cinta padamu
Irish - taim i' ngra leat
Italian - ti amo (if it's a relationship/lover/spouse)
Italian - ti voglio bene (if it's a friend, or relative)
Japanese - Kimi o ai shiteru
Japanese - Watakushi-wa anata-wo ai shimasu
Javanese -  Kulo tresno
Kannada -  Naanu Ninnanu Preethisuthene
Kannada - Naanu Ninnanu Mohisuthene
Kiswahili - Nakupenda
Klingon - qabang
Klingon - qaparHa' (depends where in the galaxy you are)
Korean - Tangsinul sarang ha yo
Korean -  Nanun tangshinul sarang hamnida
Korean - No-rul sarang hae (man to woman in casual relation)
Korean - Tangshin-ul sarang hae-yo
Korean - Tangshin-i cho-a-yo (i like you, in a romantic way)
Kurdish - Ez te hezdikhem
Lao - Koi muk jao
Latin - Te amo
Latin - Vos amo
Latin (old) - (Ego) amo te (ego, for emphasis)
Latvian - Es milu tevi (Pronounced "Ess tevy meeloo")
Lingala - Nalingi yo
Lisbon - lingo gramo-te bue', chavalinha
Lithuanian - Tave Myliu (ta-ve mee-lyu)
lojban - mi do prami
luo - Aheri
Macedonian - Sakam te!
Madrid lingo - Me molas, tronca
Malay - Saya cintamu
Malay - Saya sayangmu
Malay/Indonesian - Aku sayang enkow
Malay/Indonesian - Sayah Chantikan Awah
Malayalam - Njyaan Ninne' Preetikyunnu
Malayalam - Njyaan Ninne' Mohikyunnu.
Mandarin - Wo ai ni
Marathi - me tujhashi prem karto (male to female)
Marathi - me tujhashi prem karte (female to male)
Mohawk - Konoronhkwa
Navaho - Ayor anosh'ni
Ndebele - Niyakutanda
Norwegian - Eg elskar deg (Nynorsk)
Norwegian - Jeg elsker deg (Bokmaal) (pronounced yai elske dai)
Osetian - Aez dae warzyn
Persian - Tora dost daram
Polish - Kocham Cie
Polish - Ja cie kocham
Portuguese - Amo-te
Portuguese (brazilian) - Eu te amo
Punjabi - Mai taunu pyar karda.
Romanian - Te iu besc
Russian - Ya vas liubliu
Russian - ya liubliu tebia
Russian - ya tebia liubliu
Russian Ya polyubeel tebya.
Scot Gaelic -  Tha gra\dh agam ort
Serbian - LUBim te.
Serbocroatian -  volim te
Shona -  Ndinokuda
Sinhalese -  Mama oyata adarei
Sioux -  Techihhila
Slovak - lubim ta
Slovene - ljubim te
Spanish - Te quiero
Spanish - Te amo
Srilankan - Mama Oyata Arderyi
Swahili - Naku penda (followed by the person's name)
Swedish - Jag a"lskar dig
Swiss-German - Ch'ha di ga"rn
Syrian/Lebanes - Bhebbek (to a female)
Syrian/Lebanes - B (to a male)
Tagalog - Mahal kita
Tamil - Ni yaanai kaadli karen (You love me)
Tamil -
Nāṉ uṉṉai nēcikkiṟēṉ (I love you)
Tcheque - Miluji te
Telugu - Neenu ninnu pra'mistu'nnanu
Telugu/india - Nenu Ninnu Premistunnanu
Thai - Ch'an Rak Khun
Thai - Phom Rak Khun
Tunisian - Ha eh bak
Turkish - Seni seviyorum
Ukrainian - ja tebe koKHAju (real true love)
Ukrainian - ja vas koKHAju
Ukrainian - ja pokoKHAv tebe
Ukrainian - ja pokoKHAv vas
Urdu - Mujhe tumse mohabbat hai
Vietnamese - Em ye^u anh (woman to man)
Vietnamese -
Tôi yêu bạn
Vietnamese - Anh ye^u em (man to woman)
Vlaams - Ik hue van ye
Vulcan - Wani ra yana ro aisha
Welsh - 'Rwy'n dy garu di.
Welsh - Yr wyf i yn dy garu di (chwi)
Yiddish - Ich libe dich
Yiddish - Ich han dich lib
Yugoslavian - Ya te volim
Zazi - Ezhele hezdege
Zuni - Tom ho' ichema
Zulu - Ngiyakuthanda!

The Story of St. Valentine

Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II (268-270 AD), Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular military campaigns. Claudius was having a difficult time getting soldiers to go to the army. He believed the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their loves or their families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. But Valentine was a priest who would secretly marry any couples who came to him. For this he was taken captive and brought before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th February, in either 269 or 270.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Foot Path of Peace

To be glad of life because it gives you a chance to love and to work and to play, and to look up at the stars; to be satisfied with your possessions but not contented with yourself until you have made the best use of them; to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice to be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgusts; to covet nothing that is your neighbors except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners; to think seldom of your enemies, often of your friend and every day of Christ, and to spend as much time as you can with body and with spirit in God’s out-of-doors. These are the little guideposts on the Foot Path Of Peace.

Henry Van Dyke

Monday, February 11, 2019

Somebody

Somebody is very proud of you.
Somebody is thinking of you.
Somebody is caring about you.
Somebody misses you.
Somebody wants to talk to you.
Somebody wants to be with you.
Somebody hopes you are not in trouble.
Somebody is thankful for the support you have provided.
Somebody wants to hold your hand.
Somebody hopes everything turns out all right for you.
Somebody wants you to be happy.
Somebody wants you to find him/her.
Somebody wants to give you a gift.
Somebody wants to hug you.
Somebody thinks you ARE a gift.
Somebody admires your strength.
Somebody wants to protect you.
Somebody can't wait to see you.
Somebody loves you for who you are.
Somebody treasures your spirit.
Somebody is glad that you are their friend.
Somebody wants to get to know you better.
Somebody wants to be near you.
Somebody wants you to know they are there for you.
Somebody would do anything for you.
Somebody wants to share their dreams with you.
Somebody is alive because of you.
Somebody needs your support.
Somebody will cry when they read this.
Somebody needs you to have faith in them.
Somebody trusts you.
Somebody hears a song that reminds them of you.
Somebody needs you to send this to them, too.

"To the whole world you might be just one person, but to one person you might be the whole world."

By Somebody

Who's at Risk?

This is a very simplistic story, but a powerful message.

A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package; what food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a mouse trap!

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning, "There is a mouse trap in the house, there is a mouse trap in the house." The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell you this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me; I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mouse trap in the house." "I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse," sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing I can do about it but pray; be assured that you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow, who replied, "Like wow, Mr. Mouse, a mouse trap; am I in grave danger, Duh?" So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected to face the farmer's mouse trap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mouse trap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.

The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever.

Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. His wife's sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock.

To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well, in fact, she died, and so many people came for her funeral the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Blessed are those

Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves:
they will have no end of fun.

Blessed are those who can tell a mountain from a molehill:
they will be saved a lot of bother.

Blessed are those who know how to relax without looking for excuses:
they are on the way to becoming wise.

Blessed are those who know when to be quiet and listen:
they will lean a lot of new things.

Blessed are those who think before acting and pray before thinking:
they will avoid many blunders.

Happy are you when you can take small things seriously and face serious things calmly:
you will go far in life.

Happy are you if you can appreciate a smile and forget a frown:
you will walk on the sunny side of the street.

Happy are you if you can be kind in understanding the attitudes of others, 
even when the signs are unfavorable:
you may be taken for a fool, but this is the price of charity.

Happy are you if you know how to hold your tongue and smile, 
even when the people interrupt and contradict you or tread on your toes:
the gospel has begun to seep into your heart.

Above all...

Blessed are you when you recognize the Lord in all whom you meet: 
the light of truth shines in your life and you have found true wisdom.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Knowledge of the Poor and Needy


Knowledge of the poor and needy is not gained by pouring over books or in discussions with politicians, but by visiting the slums where they live, sitting by the bedside of the dying, feeling the cold they feel and learning from their lips the causes of their woes.
~Blessed Frédéric Ozanam


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

God said


5th Sunday in Ordinary Time


As I reflected on today’s readings, one phrase stayed with me for several days.  The phrase is in the second reading from 1 Corinthians 15: 10.  St. Paul writes, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God (that is) with me.”  We talk a lot about grace.  We sing about grace.  We pray for grace.  But do we ever stop to consider what grace is?   The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines grace as “favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life (CCC 1996).  It is “a participation in the life of God” (CCC 1997).  Grace is a supernatural GIFT from God that surpasses our human intellectual capacity. It is a gift that is unmerited.  It is a gift we cannot earn.  Grace “depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself (CCC 1998).

There is, of course, a catch to all this free and undeserved grace.  In order for grace to be “effective” as it was for St. Paul, we have to respond to it.  “God’s free initiative demands [our] free response” because God created us in his image by giving us freedom and “the power to know and love him” (CCC 2002).  We can, if we are foolish, deny God’s grace.  We can say no.  We can make all kinds of excuses for why we cannot possibly respond to God’s call to be a part of his life.  Both St. Peter and Isaiah tried, unsuccessfully, to excuse their way out of God’s work.   Isaiah claimed he was “a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6: 5).  And Peter asked Jesus to “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5: 8).  Their excuses amounted to nothing because God’s grace, working in them helped them overcome their unworthiness just as God’s grace working in St. Paul turned him from being a persecutor of the “Church of God” into an apostle of Jesus Christ. 

All of us are unworthy, undeserving and sinful yet God offers all of us the blessed gift of grace.  The best thing we can do is accept God’s grace thankfully; by doing so we have the opportunity to become gracious people.  Then, when God calls us to work in his kingdom, when God asks “whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?” We can respond without fear, “Here I am…send me.” 

Holy God of our happiness,
you entrust your Good News of life
to weak and fallible people.
Keep us from discouragement
and give us the strength to speak your message
with the language of our life.
Let Jesus your Son work with us and in us,
that each of us may have the courage to say:
Here I am, Lord,
send me as your messenger
to share your glad tidings of happiness
with all willing to listen.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Wonderful are Your Works!

In a tiny book written in German and entitled "Wunder der Schoepfung" (Miracle of Nature) the author writes: "friend, your body is made up of 100 trillion cells.  If you attempted to count them, taking a second to count each cell, it would take you three million years.  This would not be an easy task because the cells are so tiny; each having an average diameter of 10 micrometers (one micrometer is equivalent to one millionth of a meter or 1/1000 of a millimeter). Yet each of these cells has a definite function in the entire organism: for the construction of the eyes and ears, of the teeth and fingernails, of the brain and hormones... Friend, who made this marvelous body of yours?

In contemplation of God's marvelous work of our beings and the beings of other living creatures, we can only exclaim with Psalm 139:13-14 "You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!"

Saturday, February 2, 2019

A Love Story

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station.  He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose.  His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library.  Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin.  The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.  In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell.  With time and effort, he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond.

The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II.  During the next year and one month, the two grew to know each other through the mail.  Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart.  A romance was budding.  Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.  When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7pm at the Grand Central Station in New York.  "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel."

At 7pm he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen.  I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened: A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim.  Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers.  Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit, she was like springtime come alive.  I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose.  As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips.  "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured.  Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell.  She was standing almost directly behind the girl.  A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat.  She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes.  The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.  I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own.

And there she stood.  Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle.  I did not hesitate.  My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her.  This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.

I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.  "I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell.  I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?" The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile.  "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat.  And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street.  She said it was some kind of test!"

It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom.  The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.  As someone once said: "Tell me whom you love and I will tell you who you are."