Friday of the second week of Advent

Isaiah is so amazing.    He offers hope. He sees imminent possibilities for the human race.  At times, he also warns and sometimes chastises.

I’ve always loved this scripture that appeared in the Mass readings yesterday:

God gives strength to the fainting,

for the weak he makes vigor abound.

Though young men faint and grow weary,

and youth stagger and fall,

They that hope in the Lord

will renew their strength,

they will soar as with eagle’s wings;

They will run and not grow weary,

walk and not grow faint.

– Isaiah 40:30-31.

Betsy’s really cool. She’s eighty-something and has had a marvelous 65 year love affair with John. I last saw them on the couch, both dressed in denim gaga-eyed like teenagers.  Now John is slipping away into another world within himself.  And yet, she finds that her God and the angels are lifting her up on eagle’s wings. And she tells me — to her delight –she feels renewed by her faith and the Magnificat prayer book I got her as a gift.    Renew her vigor, Lord.

I want to pray for to Aaron, Lord, a good guy in his thirties who’s lost somewhere on drugs.   He has “staggered and fallen” again, and again. He has lost his vigor, has lost his way.  Be with him, too, Lord.

And then, praying about this Isaian text, I want to mention the guys on the corner of Broward and I-95, Lord.  I don’t care what they do with the buck I give them. I just look them in the eye, give them a thumbs up and ask their name.  When the light changes, I lift them up in prayer.   Their sign often says “Homeless Vet.” Young men whose souls are  buried deep within. Homelessness is tough, Lord.  I know.  I had a brief bout of it.    Be with them, too, Lord.   Let them run again, Lord, into the wind.  Let us honor the poor, Lord.  They have much to teach the rest of us.

Then there’s Sean, Lord.  He’s worried right now because his marriage is in trouble. Be with that family, Lord, and all the homes in our land that are not sweetness and light before Christmas.

I, myself, praise you, Lord, because you have restored my vigor in marvelous ways.  You’re renewing my strength.  And I’d love to soar as if with eagle’s wings, if you would grant me that grace.  Soar to the heights of the mountains and dive to the depths of the ocean of Your love, Lord.  Yes, at age 69, I’m ready to serve You, Lord as long as you grant me the grace, the vigor and the strength.

Whatever You will, Lord. Whatever you will.

Now, before you go, here is the wonderful Robert Shaw Corale singing “And the Glory of the Lord” for  Handel’s Messiah.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.  Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer


Transforming America – one smile at a time


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The other day I commented that our country was won because our founding fathers

pledged “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” to bring it about.

I remember John Kennedy’s inaugural address nearly fifty years ago in which he said,

“Ask not what your country can do for you,

but what you can do for your country.”

The first thing we can do for our country  is to start at our front door.

I have heard a couple of people say that the only time they talk to their neighbors is  during a hurricane and people are out of their homes because it’s too hot inside and they have to  cook on grilles.

Let’s change that isolation.  We can wave at our neighbor across the street when we put little Suzie in the car seat.  We can thus spread a little positive, um (pardon the word loving energy around.  And maybe Mr. Alinsky will send a bit back to you to make our day as well.

That’s how it could work, you know.  Us making each others’ lives a bit easier and they doing the same for us.

I know what a pick-me-up it is when someone acknowledges me, when a young black dude with dreadlocks gives me a nod.

A wise friend of mine has commented that since World War II Americans have become more and more isolated.  We’re into our own little worlds.  My vision for transforming America is that we join together and help each other. This year is going to be rough on many of us, if not most of us.

We can smile at people who are different from us.  We can acknowledge the person behind us in the line at the 7/11.   A friendly word may be just the lift they need.

Let’s just spread a little positive energy around all day long instead of rushing around oblivious to our surroundings.  Instead of responding to Sartre’s “Hell is other people” perhaps we can try Jesus, “Love your neighbor.”

I take time every day to stop and notice the many positive lessons, simple messages of God’s love (or the exuberance of the universe all around you, if you prefer not to speak of God.)  When I walk Shivvy I often stop to admire a little wild flower emerging from a crack in a sidewalk  He’s got guts and determination.  The message this little guy gives me is an important one:  “Hope springs eternal.”

Let’s not live in the hateful, angry, grasping  thoughts in your head.  See the beauty around you.

Now that’s how we will transform America, one smile, one kind word at a time.

We don’t have to scowl at homeless people.  You’d be surprised how a smile or a kind word can give them the lift they need to get through their difficult day.  If you lose your home and/or your job you might be joining them.

The awesome young man in the picture above I met in St. Augustine last spring.  His name is Joshua.  He was — and maybe still is  — in difficult circumstances but look at the light and joy in his face and eyes.  I admire homeless people who can still love and care and stay positive in difficult circumstances. That afternoon he cheered me up and takes care of his homeless friends.  If he can do it, so can we!

By spreading  the loving energy that is ours to give. And receive even from a lowly wild flower. It doesn’t cost us anything to smile or say good morning.  But it could be worth the price of a $240 for a 50 minute therapy session.


Bob Traupman

priest / writer

january 13, 2009 / one week before the inauguration of President Obama