Friday, November 30, 2007
This year for Thanksgiving we helped out at a soup kitchen for the homeless. The soup kitchen offered families a place to go and enjoy a meal with friends and family.
The soup kitchen allowed me to see how the people were satisfied in celebrating Thanksgiving in a local high school cafeteria. It made me appreciate what I have, and let me evaluate that holidays are special because of the people you celebrate it with, not where or when you celebrate it. REACH holds a place in my heart, because we formed a family within the community, and allowed everyone the opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a special way no matter where we are and the amount of money we use to decorate and spend on food.
I really enjoy taking part in the group because it allows me to feel more connected to my community. Not only do the students form a close bond, but we learn a lot about the community we grew up in. Loyola has allowed me to become more interested in the lifestyles around me. Although I have lived in Oakland my whole life, being a part of the Jesuit lifestyle has showed me what is out there, and this volunteer group has opened my eyes to the different realities that have been present in my life, but I never saw until I became a part of the Jesuit tradition.
The Jesuit tradition has left a life long imprint on my life, and allowed me to pass the tradition of service to those around me. The Jesuit lifestyle impacts everyone around you and is contagious. Considering that two of my three sisters decided to join the group, made me feel that I had a Jesuit impact on their life because now they look at the world and question what they can do to assist in the unification of all people. This goes to show that service as an experience has an impact on ones life, not only in the sense of helping the community, but recognizing that we are all alike.
This domino effect of service, made me come to realization that service shouldn’t be like pulling teeth, it should be an experience that you want to take part in. Service is the cycle of life, and by helping others, you help yourself in the understanding of life as a whole. The specific experiences hold a place in your heart forever, and each have an effect on your life, no matter the amount of time you put in, but more importantly the amount of effort and heart you contribute to the experience.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Bishop Aquila was very firm in his strong beliefs against pro-choice, declaring himself as unconditionally pro-life. He explained that we, as Catholics, are called to a constant ethic of life, and that things such as abortion, stem cell research, and genocide are all evil and morally unacceptable. He went on to say that dignity of human life is determined by God and thus is always to be protected; dignity is bestowed by God in creation and not by government.
I personally struggled with many of the opinions expressed by Bishop Aquila, specifically those in reference to abortion and the death penalty. I have been, and probably always will be, fully against the death penalty. When I was a senior in high school I visited Rahway State Prison on a field trip for a psychology class and we were given the opportunity to talk with the men known as “lifers” because they were in jail for life because of murder. These men run famous programs like scared straight to help troubled kids, and are only submitted into the program because they have shown true repentance for their sins. As I sat five feet from convicted murders, talking with these men in an open room, I truly saw them as just fellow human beings. This visit boosted my stand against the practice of capital punishment, and I truly agreed with Bishop Aquila on this point as he said that there is no revenge in the heart of Christ, so there should be no revenge in the heart of a Christian. However, I have been pro-choice for quite some time now, as I have learned more about our government and society. Bishop Aquila even stated my views exactly in his lecture when he touched on people who are pro-choice for abortion but oppose other issues, such as the death penalty, and asked where the logic was. He also added that many people may not want to impose their morality on others in some areas, which also pertained to me. Bishop Aquila did not change my views, although he did truly make me confront my conscience.
Bishop Aquila touched on the issues of conscience in today’s society, explaining that conscience is now understood as opinion. He added that there is great confusion with conscience as to what is good and evil. He believes that this can lead to a culture of death and that a culture of life would have a good understanding of conscience. The Bishop explained that conscience is not a person opinion; rather it is the inner voice of a human being that moves a person to do good and avoid evil. I truly agreed with him on this standpoint of conscience because I do believe it is separate from issues of difference in opinions.
The issue of freedom versus truth was also discussed in Bishop Aquila’s lecture. He explained that society has formed a false idea of freedom that has become separate from truth. He believes that, for Catholics, there is a clear relationship between truth and freedom, proclaiming “the truth will set you free.” I, too, believe there is a distinct difference and significant relationship between the concepts of truth and freedom.
As a final event blog for this semester of understanding literature, this was the only event that truly made me consider how my political views effect my religious beliefs. Again, although I did not fully change my standpoint on abortion and pro-choice, I have fully come to understand both sides. I continue to stand against the death penalty, however cannot be fully pro-life when it comes to abortion.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
So I ask again, Who has the right to dictate our lives with such conformity? The careers that I'd actually be motivated to do would either pay next to nothing or pay millions. Who has the money and the time to travel around the world photographing different cultures? I feel as though my choices are not as easy as others. They do not fall into the categories of regular jobs. Instead, I have to create these careers to live off of, both in physical monetary values and inner spiritual values, with no framework.
I'd rather tell my mother these things. I'd rather tell society these things. That happiness cannot fit into a 9-5 work day. That it's better to live a happy, simple life in my eyes than to live a complicated but fulfilling life in theirs. But like Lisa Parker's "Snapping Beans", I am the girl that cannot tell the great mysteries and conflicts of my mind to my mother, even when we're close, picking green beans in the summertime and drowning the japanese beatles in soapy water by the pool in our backyard.
I'd rather not be telling lies about my ideas of my life to strangers in order to keep things simple. I'd rather not be the girl sitting in the guidance counselor's office in sixth grade telling this strange woman the first career that comes into my mind because I had no idea. After a while I have to wonder what lines become blurred, and what I actually have a passion for and what I've told myself I have a passion for.
The things that I love to do cannot easily be manuvered into careers. I have a high creativity complex that seems to dictate my life. I love to have conversations with people, one on one, with hardly any barriers separating our thoughts and words. "It was what I was born for- to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world." I am an observer, mostly. I view the world through my unique eye. To use all of these things together is, by far, my most challenging adventure because I have to create this life for myself from stratch. There is no framework to go by, no already created careers that fall almost perfectly in place. I am the playtpus that clearly mammal, yet distinctly different, and in order to be happy, I have to be in the water instead of on land.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This week at Choice was especially meaningful because I was in charge of putting together the educational material we were to work on for the evening. As fate would have it our area of study for this week was History, a subject I have dreaded since the third grade. Personally, I have never truly understood the importance of History. This mentality is aptly reflected by the fact that I, a soon to be second semester sophomore, have yet to take my Introduction to History course, (a class commonly taken first semester freshman year).
As I looked at the face of my youth who struggled to piece together the parts of a historical illustration I found on the internet I could tell she was less than amused with the assignment. I encouraged her to verbally identify all that she saw in the picture and then interpret what she thought each part meant in the context of the historical time period. My suggestion was greeted by a blank stare.
“Why do I have to learn this” she asked. I was dumbfounded. “I will never use any of this in the real world.” She was right. I was looking into a mirror. How could I tell her that I whole heartedly agreed with her when I had created the assignment myself? I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts. What could I say?
“Why do you think you need to learn this?” She frowned from across the table and folded her arms. This girl wanted answers. The situation reminded me of the two poems we read for class “The Path to the Milky Way Leads through Los Angeles” and “A Bedtime Story.”
In “The Path to the Milky Way Leads through Los Angeles” the speaker realizes that her path in life is wherever she is at the present moment. Although there is so much in Los Angeles that she hates, she must find the beauty that exists and grow stronger from her experience. At my youth’s present moment she needs to graduate high school and her less than satisfactory History grade will prevent her from doing so. Just like the speaker, my youth must experience her present moment to its fullest. She must take all of the good with all of the bad and all of the easy with all of the difficult. This is what makes you who you are. And, this sometimes means working extra hard on a subject that troubles you. In the end you might find that not only do you succeed with the class but that you are more confident in your abilities as a student.
In “A Bedtime Story” the young girl must figure the answer out for herself. Just as it was not easy for the old woman to realize that her misfortune was a blessing in disguise, the young girl must open herself up and be willing to find the answers. The things that give us the most fulfillment in life are usually the things that are not easy. If you truly work hard and allow yourself to be open to all of the possibilities life holds in store, then you will find real happiness and fulfillment. If the old women hadn’t faced neglect and rejection she would have never experienced the beauty of the night so fully. If my youth does not go through the struggles of a difficult History class she may never feel the joy of accomplishing something that you never imagined you could. Happiness comes only to those who search for it.
“Learning a subject that is challenging for you teaches you to think. You may not apply what you learn in History to your everyday life but you will certainly apply what you have learned from learning History in every endeavor. You will not only be a stronger person for persevering you will be a wiser person for finding the answers yourself.” And with that response she picked up her pen and continued her work.
Last week, I attended a lecture by Stephen Kuusisto, a writer who has been completely blind his entire life. His thoughts and ideas express a strong sense of optimism which he has towards living life and the fact that his disability does not limit him from moving forward everyday. He described a place in which he referred to as the “Plant of the Blind”. This fantasy placed no need to cure blindness because it was accepted as normal. People are given the opportunity to talk about what they do not see, rather than what they do. I believe Stephen created this alter reality as a way to accept his blindness. I was drawn to Stephen Kuusisto’s lecture because I am currently pursuing a minor in Special Education. After learning about the pressures and stresses that people with disabilities face daily and then hearing about a blind man who has overcome these factors, the combination results in inspiration. I saw courage and accomplishment in Stephen as explained that even though he is blind, blindness is not connected with fear. This belief shows just how strong Stephen is.
The idea of wanting things that are seemingly impossible to attain is a theme in Langston Hughes’ “Thank You, Ma’am” but also in Stephen Kuusisto’s lecture. In Hughes’ work, the old woman says “I were young once and I wanted things I could not get.” The woman tells this to the boy who tried to steal her purse in order to explain to him that we can not always get what we want. She is expressing the idea that through experience, we will realize what is most important and to focus on what is personally attainable.
Stephen has accepted the fact that he will never gain his sight. For example, he depicted an encounter he had with a travel agent. The travel agent asked him why he wanted to travel if he could not see. In Stephen’s perspective, traveling was “see by ear”. Although he can not experience the sights, he can experiences the sounds of traveling and being in new places. For both Stephen and the characters in “Thank You, Ma’am”, life is about making the best of what is given to you and accepting things you can not change.
Stephen’s lecture and stories connect with Mary Oliver’s poem “Mindful” in many ways. He describes the world as “haunting and beautiful”. Mary Oliver’s poem states “it is what I was born for—to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world—to instruct myself over and over in joy and acclamation”. This quote connects with both Stephen’s lecture and with Langston Hughes’ short story. It is only through experience that self acceptance is reached.
These themes reflect the strong values of the Jesuit beliefs. The poem, lecture, and short story all support that idea that experience shapes personal development.
Last week I went to the panel talk on immigration. There was a professor from Loyola, a Legal Aid’s lawyer, and a lawyer who works at a law clinic and gives free legal advice through the University Of Maryland School Of Law. I was able to hear the Legal Aid worker speak who works for CASA de Maryland, a non-profit organization that helps the Spanish speaking population with legal advice such as documentation, getting jobs, and creating a stable environment for their families. CASA's vision is for strong, economically and ethnically diverse communities in which all people especially women, low-income people, and workers – can participate and benefit fully, regardless of their immigration status.
The Legal Aid lawyer, Lisa, said that all throughout law school her professors, colleagues, and society dangle $150,000 a year over her head. Meaning when she was in law school all of her friends were studying to become research lawyers or went into private practices. She decided to be a social work lawyer. She said the difference between her and her friends is that she loves her job and is passionate about what she does. I think it’s important to do what you love and love what you do, before money gets in the way. Her friends are making the big bucks but they hate the work they do all day. Lisa also stated that she is the only lawyer that works for CASA de Maryland and there is a two year waiting list for her legal services.
Most of the cases she deals with are of immigrant worker rights. Even if undocumented immigrants are hired and follow through with their work, they should be paid in full. Businesses seem to think that just because worker are undocumented means they don’t need to receive pay. I wish more people would see the need for social work lawyers. It’s hard, demanding work but the people who desperately need legal services are those who can’t afford it. I am fairly naive to the law world, I do know that lawyers cost a lot of money but I was shocked at the two year waiting list for CASA de Maryland service. Every two months Lisa has to not accept new clients because she has so many cases to deal with already.
I guess one of the political science classes had to take a survey the week before the panel came to Loyola. One of the questions was similar to, “Have you personally ever encountered an undocumented citizen?” I was shocked at the large majority of Loyola students said, “No”. Its interesting because if you have never been in a restaurant, Wal-Mart, or Macy’s then “yes” maybe you have never encountered an undocumented citizen. As we all know that is highly unlikely. I feel that Loyola as a whole could become more aware of these issues but the panel was a great step in the right direction. The immigration issue has become important to me for a few different reasons. One I realize that the rights of a person are being violated. It is basic idea of valuing a human being and giving people respect.
Only this year have I become more familiar with the immigration issues of the United States and developed a better understanding of what legal and undocumented immigrants go through. I am traveling to Mexico over Christmas break with 20 other Loyola students with the Project Mexico team. I am looking to explore and educate myself on social justice issues faced by people in developing countries. I find it extremely important to reflect on what I experience in the light of various beliefs, values, faith, and expertise that each member will bring to the team.
Because of our talk on Tuesday about our calling in life and our vocation, I am constantly wondering what I was meant to do with my life. I can hopefully narrow down the huge world around me to things I am interested in, as being my future. I loving doing community service, interacting with people. Maybe through my Project Mexico emersion trip I will find something I am called to do. I hope through the reflective part of this class and my experiences at Loyola I can come to find my passion. I truly believe that we were all made with a certain talent that can benefit the world and the people around us. This class is really allowing me to truly learn a lot about myself.
Now that I have the chance to reflect upon immigration issues that are vital today, I realize that upon going to this panel and thinking about the immigration system in Baltimore, I have can connect my service, my college education, the city of Baltimore, all to each other.
Last Thursday, I attended Shakespeare and the Jesuits Part II. Dr. Robert Miola, a professor in the Classics and English Department, spoke about the claims that many people make about William Shakespeare being a Catholic. Many people believed this because of the analyzing of his works, in particular, Macbeth and Hamlet. In the play Macbeth, the main character, Macbeth becomes a Jesuit in the end. Another Catholic reference comes in the play Hamlet, through the mention of Purgatory.
Miola also discussed the two Jesuit priests during the time Shakespeare lived. These two priests, William Westin and Henry Garnet, were not viewed the same way Jesuit priests are viewed today. These two men were criticized as being fake, and were even sometimes thought of as practicing witch craft. Westin once performed an exorcism on man, by making him read the Bible. The devil eventually left the man and was no longer the extreme sinner he was before. This exorcism showed some that Westin really was a priest, but many still thought of him to be a fake.
Garnet was unfortunately killed for treason and was held for equivocation the last few years of his life. Equivocation is the use of ambiguous expressions in order to mislead someone. Garnet believed though that no one should equivocate, which is what many people did during this time period. Although many were Catholics in England at the time, Queen Elizabeth enforced Protestantism. In order to keep their lives, the public attended Protestant services to please the Queen. These people were guilty of equivocation, acting as one thing but really were something else. Garnet often got angry because he believed that you cannot deny who you really are.
Our class discussion on Tuesday about what we want to do as a career brought great fear to me. This has been the most common asked question in the past couple of years, and ironically, my least favorite question. I have not found one thing that I absolutely am thrilled about or am definitely sure that I would want to spend the rest of my life doing. And sometimes, if I do find something that could be a career possibility, mainly because of the money I will make, it is not something I love. Ashya’s story about her tutoring situation shed light onto the fact that if there is something you are passionate about and are extremely talented in, you must pursue this. Don’t do something just because of the money you will make or because of the status you will have. You have to listen to what you want to do and who you really are.
These two examples, Garnet’s beliefs on equivocation and Ashya’s discovery of her plans for the future, remind me that I must be patient when choosing plans for the future. I must listen to my passions and make sure I am not denying them, just to achieve something that I think is greater. If you choose something you are passionate about and really enjoy, you more than likely will make a bigger impact on someone than if you chose a career because of its face value. Like Garnet believed, you cannot pretend to be something you aren’t.
The reputations Jesuit priests in Protestant England, during the time of Shakespeare, were viewed in a very poor and negative sense. However, today society’s views completely contrast these previously instated statuses. England’s dominant and primarily Protestant religious beliefs overpowered and excluded any other forms of practiced religion during the time. Catholics and many other religious minorities were oppressed and feared executions, and as a result often lied to conceal their religious beliefs as means to save themselves from death. Dr. Robert Miola, Fordham University graduate and Loyola College professor, discussed Shakespeare and the Jesuits in his speech. Dr. Miola focused on two specific Jesuit priests, Henry Garnet and William Westin. Each of these men had negative reputations, and society viewed them as frauds and liars. However, neither Garnet nor Westin chose to conceal their religious beliefs, and bore the consequences in return.
Henry Garnet was acquitted for equivocation, and later was arrested and killed for treason against the queen. Garnet practiced essential traditions of Jesuit lifestyles, such as education and prayer. He conducted daily examens as means of self-reflection, and studied and devoted himself to Saints Augustine and Ignatius. Garnet refused to declare himself guilty of equivocation, and continued to pursue his Jesuit mission and Catholic beliefs. This devotion to religion despite the consequences, should allow Garnet to be viewed as a martyr standing up for his faith, rather than a fraud resisting Protestant beliefs and norms.
Similarly, William Westin was considered a fake, because society did not believe that he was capable of performing the exorcisms that he claimed produce. In example, of Westin read the Ten Commandments out loud to a man who was being possessed by visions of the devil, and cured him as a result. Westin believed that suffering is what brings people closer to God, and so he used his abilities to alleviate suffering as means to aid others.
Dr. Miola brought up a commonly debated question, whether or not Shakespeare was a Catholic himself. Although this question has yet to be definitely answered, it can be inferred that Shakespeare was Catholic because of his references to Jesuit priests and purgatory in two of his plays, Macbeth and Hamlet. Garnet and Westin were condemned for their open beliefs in Catholicism, and it is a great possibility that Shakespeare may have chosen to conceal his religious beliefs in order to avoid persecution. However, both Garnet and Westin defended their faith and chose not to give into the pressures to convert to Protestantism, even if they were mistreated and persecuted in return.
Presently, religion is a universally accepted, and as members of society we are encouraged to embrace this diversity. The Jesuits mission is to educate and strive for justice in the world. As students in a Jesuit institution, we are encouraged to become well-rounded individuals. We are called to strive not only to improve ourselves, but also help to improve the lives of others in the process. However, contemporary society holds much more freedom than it did in the period of Protestant England. Garnet and Westin were viewed negatively, and all acts of compassion and piety were ignored in return. Despite the discrimination, these men proved to be true Jesuits who chose not to give into society, and rather to continue to live out their mission. Because they chose to give their lives in order to defend their beliefs, these men made it possible for Jesuits to live and practice freely today.
The dinner was a chance for everyone to open up, and share their stories. The meal allowed the Loyola students to see what Baltimore is really about, and get a feel for the city. The locals shared stories of: homelessness, addiction, and poverty. Their stories touched me and allowed me to see the importance of appreciation for what you have.
The dinner reminded me how we are all connected, not only through the location in which we live, but in the sense that we are all human. This connection reflects the unity of humankind and puts us all on the same level. This level is the perspective I used when entering the dinner and it allowed me to treat the local Baltimore citizens with respect and understanding. This event allowed me to see the Jesuit tradition at work, putting myself in the perspective of the Baltimore locals, made me realize more about myself and the community. Just like in Jesuit tradition, this experience has taught me as a whole person.
Through out the dinner I talked to a man named Ben. His story was amazing; he is a single father with multiple part-time jobs, to support his family of five. Ben has four children, and lives above one of the stores he works at. He has shown a great amount of participation in his children’s lives, by inspiring them to do well in school, and achieve scholarships to pursue a college career. Ben is a kind hearted man, who had an addiction; he conquered the addiction and concentrated on improving his life for his children.
Ben inspired me to live each day to the fullest, take advantage of what’s around you and breathe. His story represented faith and strength, just like the Jesuit tradition Ben learned from experience. He grew as an overall person once he reached enlightenment in what he was doing to his life, and how it affected the people around him. His realization lead to his rehabilitation and now Ben passes on the faith and inspiration to his children.
This chain of faith is the Jesuit tradition at work. The Jesuit way is contagious and once one person is ‘infected’ with faith, it spreads to the community around them. The Jesuit experience has helped me respect people for who they are, and look past the physical attributes. A major key that helped me understand and this concept was the Jesuit tradition and faith. The Jesuit tradition has showed me the chain of connection between communities, no matter how diverse and different they may be. I will always carry this experience with me; the Jesuit tradition is no longer a way of looking at the world, yet a way of life.
This passed Thursday I went to a discussion by Dr. Miola who is a professor at Loyola. He discussed Shakespeare and the way Jesuits were seen during the time of his plays. Dr. Miola discussed that historians have said that Shakespeare may have been catholic through interpretation of some of his plays, but there is no really solid source to his catholic background. Dr. Miola also discussed how two plays; King Lire and Macbeth shadowed two Jesuits in the plays. The men were William Weston and Henry Garnet who were seen as outcast during the time period.
Dr. Miola discussed the difficulties that Catholic’s had during this time. They were forced to belong to the Church of England. He made a point that Catholics back then were looked at like radical Muslims of today. William Weston and Henry Garnet were two strong Jesuits who suffered for their beliefs and looked upon as exorcists.
William Weston came to England trying to convert people who were unhappy with the Church of England. He performed the sacraments to all who wanted to join the catholic faith. After the Church of England found out about his spreading of Christianity, he was put in jail for many years. Like the Jesuit emphasis on education, William Weston was highly educated and taught his beliefs in Greek and Latin while in jail. He also taught Theology and opened the deeper thought of prayer and meditation to those wanting to follow. He emphasized most of his teaching on the hope of forgiveness and the graces of God. Weston also encouraged the following of the Ten Commandments as a way of becoming closer to God. During the discussion of Weston, Dr. Miola talked about how Weston’s mind set helped those who were possessed by the devil. Weston taught that the devil does not possesses people, and that the people only possesses themselves through there own mines.
Henry Garnet was another Jesuit who fought for his religious beliefs during this struggling time of the Catholic Church. Garnet was an educated Jesuit who taught mathematics’ and lectured in both Hebrew and Latin. He also wrote books on politics and was criticized for negatively talk about the Church of England’s papistry. He was accused of practicing Equification which was understood as someone who says something verbally and consciously does something else. An example of this was those who were forced to go to the Church of England, but prayed in the beliefs of Catholicism. The real belief of Equification was that it was self-preservation for one to lie in order to save the innocent. Studies have shown that this was not a Jesuit tradition and that it came from the Spaniards. Like Weston, Garnet believed that through suffering for God, was has become closer to him.
Both of these man were martyrs in there day. They suffered through death and prison to spread the gospel of God and the beliefs of Catholicism. They were true Jesuit of education and in helping those in need of be saved from the Church of England.
Last Thursday a friend and I decided to check out the American Visionary Art Museum in Federal Hill to try and find some inspiration for an art project because when it comes to art and creativity, I could use all the help I can get. We had heard great things about this museum and neither of us had ever been to it.
Before even entering the actual museum, there was immediately so much to look at outside the building. The immense mosaics on the walls leading up the entrance doors were amazingly intricate and sparkled in the sunlight. As we walked through each floor of the museum, each piece of artwork was as interesting as the next. The theme of the current exhibition is “All Faiths Beautiful” with the phrase, “God is Love” being emphasized throughout. I could not believe that on this simple visit to a museum for inspiration, I was automatically being exposed to Jesuit ideals unintentionally. This truly showed me that these Jesuit values are so prominent in our lives; you just need to keep your eyes open and you will see them. The theme, “All Faiths Beautiful” is truly a Jesuit concept in that we must welcome other religions, whether we agree with them or not, with open arms because we are all human beings and share the same concept that “God is love.” Almost every exhibit pertained to the love of God, as well as many to Jesus Christ. The art piece that I remembered most vividly from my visit was an immense bronze angel figure hanging and slowly spinning from the ceiling in between the open staircase with gigantic wings made up of a beautifully colorful mosaic of colored glass. The larger than life vision was absolutely breathtaking.
Even within the mission statement of this museum it states that visionary art, “refers to art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself." After reading this statement, I realized it perfectly described the artwork throughout the museum; I kept telling my friend I felt like children could have composed some of the artwork, meaning anyone could have done it, which is why it becomes so inspiring. Like I mentioned, I am not naturally gifted in the areas of art and creativity, but visiting this museum has taught me that if you simply look inside yourself you can do or create anything. Again, I believe this concept relates back to the Jesuit ideals we are taught here at Loyola, that we are each capable of anything, whatever our personal vocation may be.
It’s funny, before being given assignments such as these blogs, I probably would have simply visited the American Visionary Arts Museum, found it interesting, and not thought twice about it. However, now that I have the chance to reflect upon my experience, I realize that upon merely visiting an art museum in Baltimore, I have been able to connect my faith, my college life and teachings, the city of Baltimore, and the essence of art all to each other so clearly. Because of assignments such as these, I realize that I do not take seriously enough my surroundings and experiences, because once I do, I truly learn a lot about myself.
This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Project Mexico Auction. At first my initial intentions were not as pure as I would have liked others to know, there was a free buffet, so I heard, and I would be there. Little did I know that I actually had to pay for the food, which I did, that benefited the Project Mexico organization. The auction outside of the food was interesting. It was a change, something new learned for me, I thought that all auctions were verbal, fast paced, and exciting. This auction was a silent auction in which you would write down the amount of money you were willing to spend on a certain item. The items ranged from scrabble, i-pods, to ethnic dresses, foods, and many other services available.
Through this experience there were many things that I was never aware of; that I probably should have been. My mother is Mexican, so I feel that I hold an obligation to my heritage to be knowledgeable about the certain situations that the people are in. The truth is I am in no way knowledgeable of the Mexican cultures, economic status, or moral of the people. Through this project Mexico auction the importance that is stressed on the giving of the heart is greatly represented. You can give as much money as you want, which will definitely help out, but I feel like the people will appreciate the sincerity of your actions and your kind words more.
Through this presentation and welcoming of a different culture into our college campus there is a general link to the Jesuit traditions and teachings. The Jesuits teach us to be a well-rounded person and be aware of our surroundings. The world we live in surrounds different people, their culture and us and different lifestyle surrounds us. This present diversity on campus, which can be represented clearly through the programs we choose to partake in and also the individuals as well; can help us achieve that well rounded persona we wish to become. People of different background can help you find interest in things you had never thought of trying before. By opening yourself up to these helpful suggestions one can hopefully find a calling in life that surprises them.
The food shock at project Mexico auction was not what I expected. My mother sometimes makes authentic Mexican food and it was not up to that caliber, but I can only imagine how cooking styles change if your cooking for the masses.
This experience shows how diverse our school really is, and how it does present itself with numerous opportunities to help out and be a part of a community. The extra hand we are lending to Mexico, and also other countries in need are examples of following the Jesuit teachings, as well as our own vocational needs.
Jesuit Priests through the image of Shakespeare
On November 8th Dr. Robert Miola, a professor here at Loyola College spoke about the connection of the Shakespearean time period in Protestant England according to the lives of two Jesuit Priests, William Westin, and Henry Garnet. Dr. Miola depicted that Shakespeare was a dedicated Jesuit, but that William Westin and Henry Garnet were seen as untrustworthy Jesuit Priests.
Dr. Miola talked about how people thought that William Westin and Henry Garnet committed unlawful acts and had the reputations of lying and committing fraud in their daily acts when in fact this really was not true. Dr. Miola then gave an example of when Westin read the Ten Commandments to a man whom he encountered, making Satan disappear in his thoughts and actions. Garnet, a mathematician and theologian, was killed because he was accused of lying to the Queen. These two Jesuit Priests in reality were simply following their Jesuit values and were not going to lie about their Christianity to please anyone.
Dr. Miola then began to talk about the connection between Shakespeare and these two Jesuit Priests. He proclaimed that since Shakespeare was considered to be a catholic, an example of Jesuit tradition was portrayed in the play Macbeth because at the end of the play, Macbeth, the main character, becomes a Jesuit.
Living in England during the Protestant Era, Jesuits Priests were looked down upon, because the only true religion to be practiced was Protestant. People were forbidden to worship any other religion including Christianity. Hundreds of people were forced to change their religion and become Protestant or they would be killed. Jesuit Priests William Westin and Henry Garnet knew that they could not deny God in their quest for Christianity. Many people felt that they were not good priests when in actuality they were following their Jesuit traditions, but they felt that God was worth dying for at the end of the day.
Dr. Miola presented his audience with the idea that living by Jesuit values is greater than changing your religion to please another group of people. Westin was thought to have made fake exorcisms by reading the Ten Commandments to a man and making the devil disappear. Garnet was looked upon as a Jesuit priest who wrote an equivocate to defend another Jesuit named Priest Suttle. Westin wrote the equivocate in order to defend Suttle because Suttle had written a pamphlet saying that Christ would lie from time to time, a common way to save a priests life. In the equivocate, Westin claims that Jesuit priests took St. Augustine very seriously as well as lots of strenuous training, and daily praying.
In reality, Jesuits, especially priests, are continuing to carry the influence of Jesus Christ in our lives according to the Jesuit Values in which he has given us. Jesuit Priests, William Westin, and Henry Garnet lived their lives according to their Jesuit Values, but in a time period where what they believed in was an illegal act. Garnet was killed for what he believed in, and died as a martyr. As a student at Loyola College, a private Jesuit institution, living a life by the Jesuits is a daily part of life, and something which I will continue to abide by. Being able to give back to the community for the less fortunate is just one way in which I demonstrate the Jesuit values in which I have been raised by. The four key core values which embody the mission of Loyola, William Westin, and Henry Garnet were demonstrated through the speech that Dr. Robert Miola presented last Thursday evening. They are shown through my academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and work experience which have beneficially furthered my development, and will continue to be a major part of my life.
This past Thursday I attended a panel discussion on immigration. The panelists spoke about immigrant rights and the immigration issues as a whole. Interestingly, one of the panelists is from Casa de Maryland- one of the sites at which I volunteer. Because of my service there and my previous interest in immigration issues, I was familiar with most of what they were presenting but it was nonetheless interesting to be refreshed with the details. I have never quite understood those who want to build a wall along the border, or arrest every single illegal immigrant. The speakers at the panel cemented my conclusions. There were three speakers, one I missed because we got there late but the other two were lawyers. One woman spoke of the issue of crossing the border, and how impossible it is to do legally. For example, one must have their papers processing for six years before they find out if they’re granted the visa. The lawyer from Casa spoke about immigrant workers’ rights. She works primarily with day laborers who have not been paid, because their employer thought he could outsmart the system. Interestingly, even if a worker is illegal once the employer has hired them and the worker has worked, they are obligated to pay them despite the laborer’s citizenship status.
Though I do not work directly with the woman from Casa that spoke during my service there, nor with legal work I could nonetheless see the connections. Right now at Casa I am researching city council members so that Casa can better lobby for legislation to get passed, and the possibility of a women’s cooperative. The women that Casa works with showed an interest in having a cooperative, because similar to the men they often work in unsafe, unstable, unpaid positions. First, we are trying to find ways for the women to get different basic certifications such as CPR, child care, and nursing assistant to begin. Though the male workers are vulnerable, women workers are vulnerable in an entirely differently way, which is why they want to create some sort of supportive cooperative.
It is interesting to consider the rights of immigrants, especially Latin American immigrants, through a Jesuit perspective, because so many Jesuits have been murdered due to their involvement in the rights of Latin Americans who are materially poor. In
In “Thank You, M’am”, Langston Hughes examines the responsibility of a person to educate those they are aware of needing it. The boy who attempted to steal from Mrs. Jones wanted only a pair of shoes. While Mrs. Jones could have easily demanded her purse back and left the boy alone, despite having recognized his need for attention, she decided to not. It is the idea that one cannot sit idlely by knowing that someone you let by will commit an injustice again. If all the students who attended the panel were to act as Mrs. Jones did, people everywhere would begin being held more accountable for their injustices. However, most students are not comfortable making statements as large as that. Loyola’s lack of involvement in the immigration issue sets an example for the students, saying don’t get involved in something too big because it could be dangerous. Though I don’t blame Loyola for this position, it is unfortunate that so many students are following the example.
November 14, 2007
Jesuit priests were depicted poorly during Protestant England. This is shocking because today the Jesuits live by their mission, which servers and helps others. During his speech on Thursday, November 8, 2007, Dr. Robert Miola, a professor here at Loyola College, focused his discussion on Shakespeare and the Jesuits named William Westin and Henry Garnet. These two Jesuit Priests had very bad reputations and were seen as fakes when truly they were the opposite.
Miola posed the question if Shakespeare was a Catholic and if his plays can help us determine this. This question remains unanswered; however, many people have there own opinions. Miola said that some people believed Shakespeare was Catholic because at the end of Macbeth, Macbeth becomes a Jesuit. Also, Shakespeare mentioned purgatory in Hamlet.
Westin was noted for performing exorcisms, but many did not believe they were real. He told a story about a man who was being terrorized by his sins; therefore, he was seeing the devil. Westin read the Ten Commandments to the man and the devil disappeared. This story proved that Westin was no fake.
Garnet’s reputation was that of a liar and a fraud because he was held responsible for equivocation. He wrote the doctrine of equivocation to defend another Jesuit priest. It said that they took Saint Augustine seriously, trained in classes, and performed the daily Examen made by St. Ignatius. The Examen is a quick pray exercise that allows anyone to reflect on their day and their relationship with God. This is an essential aspect of a Jesuit Priests life. Garnet wrote that you cannot equivocate, or pretend to be one thing, because every Christian needs to suffer for Christ if need be. Garnet was a martyr; killed for treason against the queen.
During this time in England, the only acceptable religion was Protestant. Many people lied about their true religion, so they would not be killed. Garnet was saying this was wrong and if you were Catholic you should not hide it, even if it meant your life.
Today the Jesuit priests live by serving others to improve our world. Here at Loyola College, the Jesuits educate our body, mind, and soul. They provide us with plenty of opportunities to reach out to the less fortunate and they prepare us for the future in the classroom by making us well-rounded individuals.
It is hard to see how these men who act in compassion were neglected and known as liars during Shakespeare’s time. I believe the only reason for this was because of the time period. Despite not being accepted, the Jesuits proved they were true believers of God and they never gave up. Many early Jesuits died for their faith and because of their struggle Jesuits today do not have to defend their beliefs. Instead they can practice Catholicity freely and better our world.
November 14, 2007
After our class discussion on Tuesday I could not help but think about myself. When we went around the room talking about what people had planned for the future ahead, I thought right away that I was truly uncertain as to what I wanted to do. I was told time and time again that I had so much time to think about my future and I did not have to rush to pick a major. When I started applying to college my way of thinking changed. I became very anxious and felt that I needed to know exactly what I wanted to do when I walked onto Loyola’s campus for the first time.
When classes began I was still undecided as to what I wanted to do with my life. Throughout my high school career I volunteered weekly at a retreat for severely disabled young adults. This service started as a requirement for confirmation but I soon fell in love with it and continued for four more years. While registering for classes at Loyola and still undecided, I chose to take an education class. Incorporated in this class is a service learning program once a week. As I began to serve the community though a form a student teaching, I found what I truly wanted to do. Like Dr. Ellis had mentioned, service played a huge role in this decision.
Just yesterday I was working one on one with a fifth grade girl, Julie, who was having trouble with her spelling list. She had been tested three times and had yet to spell the words correctly. I had watched the teacher try and explain to the class how to spell the words but after about five minutes she gave up. She could have cared less if any of the students in her class could spell. As the students sat at their desks and did their work I was told to call them one at a time and test them on their words. When it was Julie’s turn, she met me at the back table and began to spell the words on the list. Just as I had imagined, she spelled almost all of them incorrectly. After attempting to spell all ten words, she was extremely frustrated and practically in tears. To see a child like this at such a young age truly hurt. I knew I needed to do something.
Because the teacher did not come to school with all she had because, I took it upon myself to make a difference. I witnessed firsthand what can happen when one of the Jesuit ideals is not met. Each and every day this teacher solely “showed up” with no intention of making a difference. Unlike her, I sat with Julie and showed her tricks for many of the words on her list. All of my teachers had “secrets” to spelling that have stuck with me to this day and I felt blessed to be able to share them with my fifth grade class.
It was at this moment that I began to think that teaching may be something that I wish to do in the future but I was still unsure. However, before Julie went to her seat she looked me in the eye and told me how much fun she had and how she wished I taught her every day. It wasn’t until I really thought about it in class when people were sharing their stories, that this is truly what I am meant to do. It is something I love to do and from what other adults and even students have told me, it is something that I am very good at. Hopefully in the future I will be able to look back on the things from this class, such as the Jesuit ideals that we incorporate in everything we do, and bring them to my very own classroom.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
In each of the texts we read for class the lives of the central characters are greatly impacted by those around them. The people in our everyday lives have the power to inspire, hurt, help, hinder and save us. This is something that as people we must not only recognize but utilize in our everyday lives.
In Phillis Levin’s “End of April,” the speaker of the poem is daydreaming about a lost love while sitting in a field. She comes upon a robin’s egg “broken, but not shattered” and compares it to her experience. There was once a bird inside of this egg but it could not stay there forever so it broke free leaving nothing behind but its shell. Like the bird, the speaker’s love is now physically gone. It lives on, however, inside of her heart, where “periodically,/ it opens up its wings,/ tearing [her] apart.” Although she can relate to the hollow shell, the ache of having her love torn from her frequently revisits her. The last two lines of the last two stanza rhyme to show how deeply imbedding this pain is within her heart. Without this pain, however, the poet would not have found the inspiration to write this poem. In essence, the experience she shared with her lost love has on one hand cause her great sorrow, but on the other allowed her to succeed with her profession.
Similarly, in Rudolfo A. Anaya’s short story “B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” the narrator is affected by the action of another person. He is searching for his next story and travels to Mexico, where he believes he will find it. This is best exemplified when he states: “Time in Mexico can be cruel and punishing, but it is never indifferent. It permeates everything, it changes reality.” Much time passes but the narrator has yet to find his story. Eventually he comes across the “jardinero” Justino. Justino is full of stories, but one story in particular captures the attention of the narrator. It is a story about adventure, evil, and stolen fortunes beyond imagination. When asked if he will accompany Justino to recover the stolen gold, the narrator resists, however. It is unclear why he never takes this journey but at the end the narrator realize that what has happened is the story. People like Justino are “the source of life.” They inspire adventure in all of us and it is the narrator’s job to tell their story to the world. They rely on each other to thrive.
In the Baltimore Sun article “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, the owners of the restaurant were also willing to allow themselves to be inspired by those around them. They recognized that they had good luck in their lives and felt obliged to give some of it back to those who have had some bad luck. Their café is a success and it is because of their faith in mankind that former drug users and convicts have a second chance at life. Conversely, because of the input that these people give to the owners, the café has been a hit. Just like in the short story, both types of people need each other to become successful.
In each of the readings we learn that that the old cliché holds true: “No man is an island.” Without the help and inspiration from those around us artists would not be able to create their art, whether it is culinary, literary, or otherwise. We are not alone on this earth. We must remember that the actions of others have the ability to affect us deeply. More importantly, we must remember that our own action as well also carry that same weight.
In the short story, “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca”, the narrator, a writer, has to overcome his writer’s block. Mexico for him is the place for him to do this. From the people to the rich history in the air, for the narrator, everything feels better in Mexico. Despite being in the ideal location he has not come up with a story. He realizes to overcome his writer’s block he has to trust. He has to use his fear of the unknown to fuel his desire to create a story. The narrator is reluctant to follow Justino, the gardener. He is afraid that Justino will lead him into a dead end, that he will waste his time and not even have a good story. He learns that he must trust those around him because people are "the source of life".
In the Baltimore Sun Article, “Serving up Hope” the people in the story have to overcome old habits. The owners of the store, the Sampsons, previously had things going well for them. They could have kept on doing the same old thing but they changed it up. Not only did they take a chance on a new beginning, the also took a chance on drug users. Drug users are people that most are afraid to work with for fear that the will not do a good job, they will steal to get drugs, or they will relapse. The Sampsons turn their fear into hope and trust in the pure goodness in people, and it paid off. Similarly the people who worked for them had to not only trust the people they worked for but overcome their drug addictions.
In the poem “End of April” the speaker had to overcome a broken heart. Love is interesting in that if it is true it will never go away. The speaker may be over the love she lost however the pain she feels from losing true love will always be with her. She must learn to healthily deal with the pain when it comes. She can love again if she allows herself. The poem is her struggle with letting go, and overcoming her fear of never loving again.
In each work someone had to overcome something. Sometimes we must relinquish our fears, and let go and let God. Each work shows an example of this. Letting go and letting God, and thus overcoming a fear. The Jesuits believe that you must trust eachother and trust God. If we can do this we can be better writers, better employees and better lovers and the world will be better because we trusted.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Phillis Levin’s poem, “End of April”, is a large metaphor, which makes the reader think more about the underlying meaning, for a more deep connection with Levin and her personal life. Her use of nature really paints a beautiful picture of her appreciation for the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Levin refers to “you”, the “you” could be a child who passed away, an ex-lover, or anyone who the speaker has lost or concluded a relationship with.
The overall tone of the poem is between happy and sad. The last two stanzas made me rethink about the tone, and made me realize that the speaker accepts the conclusion of the relationship because she knows that the ‘bird’ is not only living their physical life, but in her heart. It’s a bitter-sweet tone, just like in reality when we have a transition state into accepting the idea that something is over, but realizing that something new and beautiful can come out of the past experience.
This realization refers back to the Jesuit tradition and appreciation. This tradition allows the Jesuit followers to understand the “price” of what you have and when it’s taken from you. This poem shows the relationship of understanding that life goes on and to respect everything for what it is. The Jesuit tradition tells us not to take anything for granted, and you can see the realization of the Jesuit tradition throughout the poem. The speaker understands the philosophy of life, and it shows through the last two stanzas because she shows her gratefulness and joy towards the end of the relationship, this optimism is a key factor in the Jesuit tradition. This positive attitude allows for a more positive view on life, and living life to the fullest.
November 7, 2007
In the poem “End of April” the theme is the understanding of reality when losing a loved one and using nature as a cognate and the theme in “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca” is that people need to recognize the good things in life that are right in front of them instead of searching for something bigger and better.
In the poem “End of April” by Phillis Levin the speaker of the poem is most likely the author of the poem. The poem compares a “broken but not shattered” robins egg to the torn heart of the speaker. The egg shell is described as “glistening, hallow” similar to hallow or empty heart. It seems as though the author is talking about losing a loved one because in lines4-7 she states, “I had been thinking of you, and was kneeling in the grass among fallen blossoms.” These lines portray the image of the speaker kneeling, meditating, or praying at a cemetery or simply capturing a moment of reflection on the life of the one who has passed. The use of the robins’ egg shell which is so delicate reflects the speaker’s delicate heart. The author is obviously mourning and struggling with the death of someone she loved, “What had been there is now gone and lives in my heart.” People die unexpectedly every day. It is Gods will that people are called to heaven from “time to time” without our approval.
The short story “B. Traven is Alive and Well in
There is a paradox throughout the story “How did she know that B. Traven had come to haunt my thoughts?” B. Traven seemed to be an in convince for the protagonist but really B. Traven is what fuels him to keep writing and keep searching for the story. When small seemingly insignificant things keep popping up like meeting the widow of B. Traven, the letter for B. Traven, and the book lying on the bench are all trivial things that are actually important. The speaker should notice that what each small detail was also a factor in his story. The speaker continues to look for possible writing material but neglects to see some of his closes acquaintances as anything substantial.
Finally an outside had to inform the speaker of what he was missing out on right before his very eyes. “They [Justino and others like him] are willing to share the adventure with us. You seek fame and notoriety and you’re dead as a writer.”
Seeking fame was definitely not what Galen Sampson, top rated chef and graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and wife Bridget, writer and social activist who had in mind when they made a life changing decision. This article shows that two heads are better than one because even though Galen is a master chef he probably had no clue in the beginning how to deal with people who are marginalized or making sure justice is served. The article also shows that the respect and trust people give one another really shape a person’s character.
The couple decided to start a deli, combining Galen’s food expertise with Bridget’s involvement with the social justice issues in
The article, “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro is a simply written article that shows the reader how everyday people can affect change in the world around them. She visits Dogwood Deli in Hampden and tells the story of the couple that opened it as well their employees. The Deli, and in turn Shapiro’s article, is unique because of its focus on the employees. With a little help from the Baltimore Community Fellowship Program the Sampsons were able to open the restaurant of their dreams. Bridget and Galen Sampson are two people both passionate about social justice issues, who decided to incorporate that enthusiasm into their everyday lives. They work not only to serve delicious food but also to train and employee previous drug addicts and convicts.
In class we often discuss the Jesuit ideals, and all around campus students are visibly incorporating the Jesuit ideals into their everyday lives. Not all of those students plan on involving service or justice issues in their lives post graduation. Some would say that the time necessary to serve is a luxury that not everyone has. As Loyola’s graduates rush off after graduation, what percentage of them will be pursuing social justice oriented jobs? What percentage will be looking for whichever job will give them the highest paycheck? The Sampsons have defied this reality of adult life by working with the community around them. Despite Hampden’s nearness to Loyola and the number of students that travel down there, how many are aware of this restaurant’s background? Probably not too many.
Many organizations push students to explore worlds with which they are unfamiliar. Loyola chauffeurs students around
In Phillis Levin poem, “End of April”, he deals with the idea of love and the pain it can cause. Through the use of a metaphor, Levin compares an empty robin’s egg to the pain of a heart broken by love lost. By using images of blossoms and a robin’s egg, Levin originally gives the appearance that the poem will be a cheerful one. However, upon close examination one would see that the blossoms are fallen and the egg is broken. Though they are both things that can be beautiful and living, in her poem they are dead.
People like the Sampsons have acknowledged
However, fear that is internal and fear that is external is different. The fear that influences the main character in “B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca”, the speaker in “End of April” and the people in “Serving up hope”, is mainly based on internal influences that are, in the end, overcome. In “B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca”, the writer finally overcomes the overwhelming sense of being lost in fantasy, lies, and reality to complete his mission of writing a story. The speaker in the “End of April” ends up overcoming the pain experienced from seeing the cracked egg on the ground, and the simultaneous pain of losing a relationship through time. In “Serving up Hope”, the people overcome their fear of addiction and drugs by opening up a restaurant. However, all of these fears are internal.
How does a person overcome a fear that is external, that is not immediately present? It’s tough to say, because those involved do not know the effect that external fear can have on their lives, and whose souls they kill by acting on a fear they have very little control over. In most cases, the people within a society overact on these fears. They single out people who could possibly make the external fear come to life. As Phillis Levin says, “It didn’t seem real, but nature will do such things from time to time.” Fear invades unexpected and leaves forcefully, but it is more difficult for a society to release such fear than it is for a single person to do so, as much as the people being metaphorically killed, innocently, are crying out for a change.
“Serving of Hope” discusses the encouraging story of Tyrone Lewis and Jennifer Brock, two individuals who had been at rock bottom. Galen and Bridget Sampson helped provide a better life for them though when they hired the two former drug addicts to work at their new restaurant, The Dogwood Deli. Not only have the Sampsons provided a job opportunity for Brock and Lewis, but are also going to be training former drug users and convicts to provide them with culinary skills to kick start careers of their own. It is seen through the opportunities given by the Sampsons, that even those who have experienced the lowest times in life can still have a successful future.
In the story “B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca”, a writer travels to Mexico in hopes for inspiration for a story. While in the country, he seems to suffer from writer’s block. The writer experiences myriad events, but is still conflicted on how to write a story about his experiences. During his stay, he meets a man named Justino, and soon the narrator becomes fascinated with his life. Along with his adventures with Justino comes the haunting thoughts of the mysterious B. Traven, a famous writer from Mexico. Still, the writer cannot find a word to write. In the end though, a man tells him how he must “follow a story if it leads him to hell itself”. The writer is over flooded with information and rushes home to write about the events that inspired him in Mexico. Although the character is not as troubled as Brock and Lewis, the theme still continues that difficult situations, with time, will come to an end.
The poem “End of April”, also shows us that there is still hope in bad situations. The poem involves the speaker, who is in a state of loneliness, due to experiencing something depressing, such as a breakup. The speaker has found a robin’s egg, but is sad to find that it is empty. The hollow eggs reminds him that something was once there, but now is gone, just like someone had been in his life and has disappeared. In the end though, the speaker mentions how the memories of the person are still in her heart. The word choice in the poem shows that there is some hope instilled in her life, but still feels pain from the event. Words such as “toy”, “confetti”, and “glistening” demonstrates the speaker’s optimistic attitude towards her situation. Although something negative has happened in this poem, a sense of hope is felt from the speaker that things will be okay.
These works help us understand that we cannot give up in life just because something has gone wrong. Something positive can always come out of a negative experience, and we are reminded that we must look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
November 7, 2007
While doing the reading for this week I could not help but to think of one main Jesuit ideal. In the short story ”B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca” by Rudolfo Anaya, the poem “End of April” by Phillis Levin, and the article “Serving up Hope”, I was constantly reminded of just how important it is to make do with all you have and not to get caught up on the things you lack.
In Rudolfo Anaya’s short story “B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” there was one point that stuck out in my mind. When I first read that Don Francisco murdered many people just because he found himself to be superior, I didn’t think much would be done. I felt like no one would do anything to stop him and he would continue to get away with his killings. As I continued to read I realized that Don Francisco was not allowed to touch his fortune. Even though he killed all of those people and hid their wealth, in the long run he was not able to do anything with it. This idea may be a bit of a stretch from that of the Jesuit ideal but I feel as though it could still relate. Don Francisco was not satisfied with his own fortunes so he began to take from others. By doing so, he was the one that suffered in the end by not being able to get his hands on them. Had he not been so worried about all of the things he didn’t have, he could have had a much more enjoyable life.
In Phillis Levin’s poem “End of April,” the speaker finds a robin’s egg lying on the ground under a cherry tree. Much to his surprise it is broken and hollow inside. Unlike many people, the speaker stops to marvel at the broken egg and realizes that even though it is broken, it still holds beauty. Just like that of the Jesuits, the speaker in this poem made the best of what he had. Although something was missing inside that probably reminded him of something big in his life, the speaker was still fascinated by the shell off the egg.
Finally, in the essay “Serving up Hope,” the Sampson family made the best of what they had to open up a restaurant. I noticed that many of their employees were former drug users and instead of looking for people with better backgrounds, they welcomed the drug addicts. They treated them with an immense amount of respect and in return they got wonderful work out of their employees. By using the things they had, both the Sampson’s and the employees benefited. Never once did they wish it was any other way.
In all three of these works, the idea of being happy with what you have is expressed. In the poem and the article the characters are satisfied and live a rather happy life. On the contrary, the man in the short story suffers a great deal because he is more interested in gaining the things that he lacks instead of being fortunate for everything he has. I can now see why this Jesuit ideal is so important to everyday life and I feel like I will no longer take the things I have for granted.
Social norms are present for every individual in society, and as members of society, each individual possesses unique attributes and genuine characteristics. In the article, “Serving up Hope,” written by Stephanie Shapiro, a story is told about a couple who chooses to looks beyond stigmas and in doing so provides former drug and substance abusers with the opportunity to prove themselves and put their attributes to use. In Rudolfo Anaya’s short story, “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” Anaya describes a trip taken to Mexico, in order to find inspiration to write a story of his own. This quest for inspiration proves to be a difficult one for Anaya, and in the end he finds that it is an everyday common man, who held the power to motivate him. The poem, “End of April,” the speaker expresses current feelings of loneliness and emptiness in life. These emotions are present in every individual at one point in time, and as a result are very relatable to readers.
Galen and Bridget Simpson opened the Dogwood Deli, as a way to give back to the community through providing former convicts and substance and drug abusers with a place of employment, and with hope for a career. Through this “commitment to social justice, Sampson is creating a sorely needed avenue for men and women transitioning back to society,” says Shapiro. This act of promoting justice helps these individuals to get their lives back on track, through the Simpson’s decision to take a chance on them. Through this opportunity, they are no longer viewed as ex-convicts or addicts, rather they are viewed as everyday people with the opportunity to excel and progress.
Similarly, in Anaya’s story the speaker describes the prolonged process of finding inspiration in Mexico to write a story. Ironically, after searching for an extensive period of time, inspiration is found in the uneducated gardener, Justino. By the end of the story, Justino proves that his lack of education does not hinder his knowledge of culture and its importance. “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” reminds readers that motivation is found in everyday people and reality, and that society commonly overlooks certain individuals and deems them incompetent as a result of their status.
Imagery is the most prevalent element used in the poem “End of April,” as a method in which the speaker uses to express feelings of loneliness. The broken egg is used as a symbol to represent the speaker’s broken and empty heart, because it has lost all of its internal elements. The speaker uses the common reference of nature as a way to relate to his deepest emotions and sorrows. Although feelings of distress are difficult to overcome, as readers we are reminded that these emotions are commonly present and universally held.
The theme of social norms and the reality of everyday life and its people is present in all three of these works, and each stresses the importance of society to embrace the unity that all members individuals withhold. Each author reminds readers that we are all equal, and status and stigma should not hinder the ability
“Serving Up Hope,” is an uplifting story about a married couple who has devoted their lives to helping others. Galen and Bridget Sampson set the ideal example of serving the less fortunate, which is a popular Jesuit teaching. The Sampson’s combined their talents and dedicated their time to helping recovering addicts and convicts, giving them another chance at life. Galen Sampson said that he has always wanted to give back and use his skills to make the most difference. Tyrone Lewis is thankful for the Sampson’s help and service because of the opportunity they gave him to get his life back on track. “Serving Up Hope” relates to the Jesuit teaching, shows the Sampson’s devotion to service, and provides an excellent example of how we should all help others.
Rudolfo A. Anaya’s short story “B. Traven Is Alive And Well In Cuernavaca,” tells of Anaya’s journey in Mexico to find motivation to write his story. While searching hard, he is blinded by the fact that his inspiration for his story is right in front of him. He spends a great deal of time with Justino, a jardinero who took care of Anaya’s friends garden. He has an encounter with an old man, who tells him that a writer’s job is to find people like Justino because they are the source of life. It then hits him; Justino had come into his life, giving him a story to write. Anaya’s message in “B. Traven Is Alive And Well In Cuernavaca,” is that sometimes we look too hard for something when it is staring us right in the face the whole time.
In Phillis Levin’s poem “End of April,” she uses imagery to express the loneliness the speaker is feeling. We comprehend the meaning of the poem more clearly through the images we form in our head. For example, we can picture the heartbroken speaker sitting alone under the “cherry tree” analyzing this broken robin’s egg. The broken egg represents the speaker’s empty heart, because he has lost a loved one. “End of April” mainly uses literary devices such as imagery and metaphors to illustrate the speaker’s empty heart and loneliness.
I found it interesting that today’s assigned readings were that of a newspaper article, “Serving Up Hope.” a short fictional story, “B. Tavern is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” and a poem, “End of April.” Despite their outwardly differences, these three works share commonalities in their themes of community, loneliness, and companionship.
I truly found the article, “Serving Up Hope,” to be very inspiring. Not only did this middle aged couple start a new business venture with their restaurant, but they also took the risk of doubling it as a training ground for those recovering from drug use or recently out of jail. This is especially risky because once the public knows that the entire staff of the restaurant are all ex-drug users and ex-convicts, they may refuse to eat there before even trying it. However, there are many people, such as myself, who find this amazing and realize the importance of helping those who have had troubled lives to get back on their feet. Because our country does not do a particularly good job of this, the fact that two average people can make such a difference in this area is simply inspiring. This article portrays all three themes in that it is building a sense of community among these people and those that do, in fact, live in their community; it takes away the loneliness these people in need have felt through their addictions or jail time, or continue to feel as they recover; and above all it forms a companionship between the workers as well as the two owners, all helping each other on their roads to recovery.
In the short fictional story, “B. Tavern is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” the personal venture of an aspiring writer on a get away to complete his ideas is portrayed. Upon meeting his friend’s gardener, Justino, the narrator unknowingly begins his story. The narrator takes in all that he encounters in this new community of Mexico City as he develops his ideas for a story. Originally seeking solitude and aloneness, the narrator quickly develops a deep companionship and admiration for Justino as he is a carefree ladies-man living a life of pure happiness and desire for adventure. It is then Justino’s distinct characteristics met with the legend of B. Tavern that inspire and teach the narrator as he organizes his ideas. Because of his companionship with Justino, the narrator is able to write the story he so longed for as he set out to Mexico City.
Although I am still learning to interpret poetry, after reading “End of April,” I came away with two very different senses of emotion. At first I felt this poem, with a self-explanatory title, was clearly about the beauty of nature and springtime. However, by the end of the poem I felt a strong sense of loneliness as the speaker reveals a broken heart being torn apart. It is interesting how nature seems to be seen as something of such great beauty and wonder to the speaker, however then turns into the source of his or her deep loneliness.
Whether a theme of loneliness, companionship, or community, I felt that each of these three writings had a distinct message that was beautifully conveyed.
The theme of using inspiration to overcome barriers is interwoven among Rudolfo Anaya’s short story “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca”, Phillis Levin’s poem “End of April”, and the article, “Serving up Hope”.
In Phillis Levin’s poem, the speaker shows how the discovery of a broken robin’s egg reminds them of a lost love. The egg is found under a tree, as the speaker resides among cherry blossoms. The speaker describes the egg as “a delicate toy, as light as confetti”. This comparison shows just how gentile and fragile the egg is. The egg “didn’t seem real”, but the speaker explains that nature tends to do this from time to time. The hollowed out robin's egg represents the love the man had for his lost companion. There was once something phyiscally inside the egg but now that object has vanished, just like the love between the has disappeared. The speaker is coming to terms with the loss emotionally. They realizes that although the love is gone between the two, it did once exist. Not having that love is tearing him up inside. Seeing the empty egg reminds him of his lonely and hollow heart in which he or she must live with forever. The egg serves as inspiration towards acceptance for the separation, even if the loss is difficult to overcome.
In the article, “Serving up Hope”, a man, Galen, and his wife Bridget teamed up to open a deli and give former drug addicts and convicts the opportunity to start over with a job. Even with a five-star culinary background, Galen’s “commitment to social justice” has become his main priority for his new restaurant and provides a sense of inspiration for those who want a second chance. Bridget believes that “their effort to reverse the fortunes of so many lives may appear unrealistic”, but the couple believes that their support will make a difference. Offering these jobs gives the recovering addicts a way to push forward and overcome the barriers that have held them down for so long. For example, Tyrone Lewis had a love for cooking all of his life but his addiction prevented him from fulfilling his dream. Galen and Bridget’s efforts had served as inspiration for Lewis to stay clean and take control of his life and future.
Rudolfo Anaya’s short story “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca” focuses on a writer’s journey to find inspiration and cure his writer’s block. The writer begins his travels expecting mystery and adventure, such as in past works by B. Traven. As he travels to Mexico, he meets a gardener named Justino who gives him the ultimate inspiration to create his story. His experience and interaction with the people of Cuernavaca help him to better understand and grasp the importance of culture in society today. The writer breaks the barrier between hearing stories and experiencing life. His talks with Justino will bring him farther to the true concept of culture than talked to a reporter or fellow writer about it. The direct experience with the gardener provided him with the inspiration he needed to write.
In Phillis Levin’s “End of April” and Rudolfo A. Anaya’s “B. Traven Is Alive and well in Cuernavaca” both analyze the theme that as a person and as a place you do not imagine what else can be held inside of you other than the social norms. Through both of these stories and poems you can find other external and internal factors that lend themselves to the composition of the whole person, or place. There are also some literary terms throughout the works that can form a bond between both, such as the vivid imagery.
In Phillis Levin’s poem “Ends of April” there are many imagery’s that lend itself to the theme of spring and hatching to a new beginning. Throughout the whole story there are clear connections to spring, “cherry tree…robins’egg”. These vivid imageries add to the tone of the poem, the new birth and bright new days. The two ending stanza’s are the main points that tie themselves to Rudolfo A. Anaya’s story. The thought that something is within a person, without meaning to be is represented in the last two stanzas. It’s as if that person is holding on to a form of life that is awakened through specific stimuli. In Rudolfo A. Anaya’s story there are many varying variables that are different from the hatching new birth theme of Phillis Levin’s poem. Those differences make it difficult to find some similar meaning, but one is found when looking at the two works as a whole. In Rudolfo A. Anaya’s story he goes through the process of telling the story of how B.Traven’s books influence his time spent in Mexico, and how his stories are alive in Cuernavaca. Throughout the story one character, Justino, to me is portrayed as the living proof that B.Traven’s stories live in the people of Mexico and Cuernavaca. Through his experiences shared to the narrator, aids in the thoughts of B. Travens. His cool composure, and popularity with women can be portrayed throughout the stories.
With both of these works displayed a different level of how each writer is able to portray a mysterious part of people. Through the characters in each, you can see the long lasting impression that experiences and books have on them.