Sunday, July 17, 2005

My friend Claire.

I was messing around this morning and totally lost track of the time. As a result, I missed both Masses at my parish. I considered skipping mass altogether (a thought quickly dismissed), and then decided it would be better to attend mass at a nearby parish. I am telling you this for a reason because, in hindsight, this seems to have ended up being the right thing for me to do for today.

Once a year the Diocese asks a priest serving as a missionary to visit each parish, and today was that day. Father Tom Hagan, who has been serving in Haiti for ten years, was the visiting priest. Now, I could write paragraphs about the experiences he shared around serving God in that country, but you can also look him up online at

Fr. Hagan told a story about how Mother Theresa had visited him in Haiti once, during a particularly tough period when he was feeling dejected and overwhelmed by what was going on in this place where 50% of the children die before reaching age five. She had instructed him to not give in to those feelings, and to realize that his job was to make sure that every person who came to him left feeling better about themselves. He offered that as a challenge to each of us (one of many challenges he gave us this morning) ... that we each make sure that, in any encounter with another person we have, at the end of that encounter the person we came in contact with feels better than they did before the encounter. No small task.

In fact, as I thought about the enormity of that suggestion I began to feel overwhelmed and dejected. How is that possible? How could anyone manage that? And then I realized that what he was talking about was exactly what my friend Claire does. Claire suffers from a neurological disorder in the Parkinson family of diseases. But an encounter with her generally leaves you feeling refreshed and more optimistic about the world. Sure she has bad days, as do we all, but generally she conveys a sense of optimism and love for each person she comes in contact with.

Yesterday (Saturday, June 16), Claire started off on a trip to raise funds and awareness for the National Parkinson Foundation. For seven days she will be riding her Rascal Mobility Scooter across northern California. She crossed from Marin to San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge riding that scooter on Saturday, and rode about 30 miles today. As of this writing she has six days left until she ends up at the State Capitol in Sacramento next Saturday. She has a web blog, and I would encourage you to visit it at (disclaimer: I am helping her with this and make most of the posts). She is truly inspiring in this effort, and you will be better off for having spent a few moments with her, even if it is just online!

Copyright©2005 jdwarrick    

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