Musings of an Irish-American

Sometimes I think about stuff, and then I write it here…

Monthly Archives: June 2009

summer part II

Only about six weeks before I head back to Greencastle for my junior year at DePauw…a somewhat intimidating proposition, but a truth nonetheless.

I just got back from one of the most fulfilling weeks of my life (as it usually is) Teen Service Week. Teen Service Week is a week-long service retreat in the city of Chicago, involving teens from all over (Chicago and its suburbs, Marengo IL and even Wisconsin!) doing service and reflecting on how that service matters and impacts their lives, as well as reasons behind that service (why is it needed? what sorts of issues are behind the service being done?).  I served as a Peer Minister this year on the week, my second year doing so, and I had a great time working with my Peer Ministry partner. I think we both learned and grew from one another, and worked really well together, which made the week a great experience overall. It is so inspiring to see a group of young people who enjoy doing service and to see them reflect on their lives and where their faith fits into all of that. That said, this week was not an exclusively Catholic affair. One of our leaders is a member of the Lutheran faith and one of the teens is Presbyterian, so I hope our very open manner of prayer and reflection helped them feel included in our community of service and prayer.

The week helped me create some very solid goals and has made me realized how I’ve minimized the role of service in my life, and how I have taken some things for granted in my life. One of the biggest offenses I feel I’ve committed is how I’ve taken some of the relationships in my life for granted, which I realized fairly early in the week and came fully to light as me and my Peer Ministry partner were planning our prayer for Wednesday night and we found and used this quote from Albert Schweitzer:

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Everyone on Teen Service Week this week lit (or rejuvenated) my light this week, and for that I thank you. Thank you to the rest of you who are my “spark” as well (hopefully you know who you are at this point).

Now I ask you who are reading this to do two things:
1) listen to “If You’re Out There” by John Legend; it was the theme song for this year’s Teen Service Week, it’s an inspirational call to service
2) go “out there” and be someone’s spark, and thank those who have sparked your own life.



summer part I

I realized recently (and by recently I mean today) that it had been quite some time since I had last posted. Given that the semester has been over for almost three weeks now, I certainly have no excuse.

But here we are.

I can confidently say this summer has been moderately productive. I have already been Food Service Certified for the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago (exciting, right?). I’ve read The Grapes of Wrath (which I’ve owned since my sophomore year in high school, so it took me long enough). I’m doing pretty well in my summer class (Statistics in Daily Life). I am actually practicing piano (I know, try not to have a heart attack, geez). And, finally, I’ve started arranging for DePauwCappella again (less frustrating when you actually have time to do it).

Even with all of this, I have been pondering the nature of relationships. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be the romantic kind that everyone thinks of when the word “relationship” is used. I think one of the most interesting (and potentially frustrating) things about our relationships is the kind of dynamic that we establish or find ourselves in during the course of that relationship.

This crossed my mind as I made my bed this evening and turned on the radio. An old Billy Dean song (yes, country music, eye-roll, are we done now?) was playing and the lyrics go like this:

So let’s leave it alone, ’cause we can’t see eye to eye.
There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys.
There’s only you and me and we just disagree.

And, besides its gratuitous use of the word “ain’t”, there’s a fair amount of wisdom there. Even though people may not agree with one another all the time, that doesn’t make them friends any less. A disagreement about anything shouldn’t lessen the foundation that has been built between those two people. If one of those two people doesn’t realize what’s there, or sees it in terms of “good guys” and “bad guys”, that relationship is doomed.

However, beyond that, the dynamic of that relationship needs to be thought of as well. If one person is always giving of themselves, or thinks of it in terms of what the other person’s not doing, the value of that relationship is diminished because the relationship isn’t being appreciated for what it is, but, rather, for what it is not. Certainly, it’s absurd to say that one should have no expectations for a relationship, because, whether we admit it or not, we all have expectations. The people who say they don’t have expectations for anything have probably faced a fair amount of disappointment, and would rather think they have no expectations than admit that they haven’t had the best of luck with their expectations.

But, indeed, relationships are a complicated matter. The only single thing I can offer up about relationships that makes any sense is that you have to trust your counterpart in any kind of relationship. Not just trust them, but trust in the fact that, if that relationship is strong enough, things will work out for the best for everyone, even if there are moments that that fact seems very dim in present light.

As, in the wisdom of The Fray, “sometimes the hardest thing, and the right thing, are the same”.