Tomorrow  is my birthday.  People always asked me :”how old are you?” And I never tell them my true age.  Not because I am embarrassed but as Ruth Gordon says, “Discussing how old you are is the temple of boredom.”  What is important is “how have you used your years thus far, have they given glory to God through helping others?”

Twenty four years ago  sitting with Fr. Frank Cordaro in a group discussing the Catholic Worker I heard a group of fifty plus year old’s talk of how when they retired that they would do a ministry like the Catholic Worker. Since I had first entered the ministry I had wanted to do the same, but my bishop never would let me consider that type of ministry, he needed me in the a church, but now I was free to choose, I thought to myself, “I am not going to wait, I am going to “retire” now and do ministry as a catholic worker. Over the next two years that call never left and I came to San Francisco where I have retired into forming Temenos Catholic Worker.

I have lived well  these past twenty two years, as I have done those before, so discussing a number is the “temple of boredom”, for me it is how well I will live my life into the next year, not a number.  I have been “retired” for a long time now, and delight in every moment. Of course as a friend of mine says, “pick a vocation that you enjoy and you never worry about retiring,’ and I have enjoyed my “retirement” since my first day at sixteen and a half in the pulpit, so I have “retired twice.”  Only two of the four years I worked in non-profits was I not really retired.

Another reason I  never share my age is you are labeled, either as too young, or too old, and the reality is I want to be judged by my work, not how much gray I have or how many wrinkles.  We judge, we label.  I know people who are in their 90’s who can run circles around most people. As  a friend of mine, who is in his eighties once told me, “never think of the number, it will deceive you every time.” And numbers are deceiving, not only to you but to others, so I never tell my age, I will pick a number from 1-100, and tell you.

This afternoon I was so exhausted from our Stations of the Cross Service, and a  young man I have known for four years who is a traveler. In other words he is homeless, and simply travels the country, He is 21, calls me, crying, and just had to see me. My first thought was oh f. .ck, but he begged me and I went to the Haight.  J had just been told he had an inoperable tumor. His family kicked him out because they caught him sleeping with a guy.  Have not talked to him since he was 15.  Scared to death. In the end all I could tell him  was that he would not be alone through out this, I would be with him, and that would see to it that he has a place and is taken care of. He hugged as he left to hang with friends, and gave me his parents number.  They live in Texas. I called them, told them the situation and the words they used are unrepeatable, but they are open for me coming and talking to them. And so i will fly to Texas next week, and see what can be worked out.  But regardless he will not be alone.

Today Tehmina Khan, a Muslim lady, who participated in our Stations of the Cross wrote me

“My imam says that we all take different routes to get to a particular destination  — BART, freeway, streets, walking, etc. — and no one says my way is the only way.”

Those words brought comfort to me, for all of us take different routes, we all end up in the hands of the same God. For when people asked me “what happens if something happens to you, you are all alone, all I know is I am not, like I will walk with my young friend,  God will provide some one to walk with me, and in that knowledge I go into the next year.

So I invite people to join me in this next year not counting the days but living out the questions of St. Ignatius:

What have I done for Christ?

What am I doing for Christ?

What will I do for Christ?

Frankly worrying about numbers, especially when you have  ADD like me is rather boring.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God?

Temenos Catholic Worker

P. O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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