Over the Hump, March 13, 2019

First impressions are much of the time very important, and sometimes they predict how a relationship will develop or not.

I found myself at the Alabama State Prison, as a guest, to observe a new program entitled KAIROS. When I arrived, someone asked if any of us were clergy. I raised my hand and they said we are one short, so you may be a guest but you are on the team. So with no experience I was at a table with 6 men in white for the next 3 days.

We began talking, when the evening was over they went back to their cells and we left to stay elsewhere. The next morning one of the men did not return. we talked about it and I was sent to his cell to see if he was okay.

I got to his cell and asked him about coming back. He said that he was not coming back for he had heard the night before one of the outside men use bad language in the conversation.

I was that ourside man and I had, indeed, used a four letter word. He said that a real man of God would not use that kind of language. I am still working on that same problem after all these years but it still is a struggle for me.

Over the Hump March 6, 2019

As you know, today is Ash Wednesday, and is acknowledged by Catholics, many Protestants, Eastern and Russina Orthodox and many others. 

Ashes are mentioned also in the Jewish tradition, and in all instances, they have to do with repentance (feeling sorry for things we have done). 

The ashes are also a reminder that life is short, and there are some things we may have to carry to the grave for they were never dealt with in life on this side of the grave. 

Thus Ash Wednesday and Lent are givien to us to deal, if we wish, with some of those things which we know are there but repress for we do not want to think about or deal with them because of the pain. 

Wouldn't it be great if repentance was a priority in our lives, our families, our churches, our neighborhoods and our world. It is worth pain.

Have a meaningful Lent from Over the Hump!

Over the Hump February 27, 2019

When I was very young, I received a book from my Godfather. It was the biography of Will Rogers who was the famous philosopher cowboy from the great state of Oklahoma, where my Godfather was a professor at one of the colleges. 

There is a quote from the book that should have made it into the book of Proverbs in the Good Book. Rogers said, "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your pet parrot the the town gossip."

Talk is cheap and so easily misused as we say to much, embellish a story, let ourselves fall into the trap of talking about others. Remember the game "gossip." What is whispered into the first ear comes out very different in the last one.

Another place in the Good Book talks about how we talk. We can find it in the book of James, I don't necessarily like the book for it hits too close to home. So be careful what you say in front of your parrot.

Over the Hump February 20, 2019

Art Linkletter on his show years ago reminded us that children say the darnedest things and some are very touching. 

They are many times so simple that they touch the heart. Their hearts and minds are not cluttered with too many ideas and words.

The author Leo Buscaglia once told about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child; the winner was a four-year-old boy. His next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the gentleman's yard, climbed into his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry" 

Yes, children say the darnedest things.

Over the Hump February 13, 2019

Some of you may have read writings by Kahlil Gibran over the years. In a chapter of sayings, I ran across one that caught my attention.

"Deliver me from him who does not tell the truth unless he stings, and from the man of good conduct and bad intentions; and from him who acquires self-esteem by finding fault in others."

Wisdom, it seems can come from many sources if we are open minded and teachable. No cupboard is more bare than a closed mind. For if the mind is closed, so usually is the heart.

Some have broken hearts and if the heart is closed there is no way to heal it and it can't love.

Happy Valentines' Day 


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump February 6, 2019

The super bowl is over and President Trump gave his State of the Union speech, I wonder if there is a connection between the Patriots victory and the speech, about bringing the country back together. 

What does patriotism mean in this day and time? The definition is "love and devotion to ones country.”

When we look around us in this day and age and look at our leadership, who are the patriots? 

A patriot is able to see the big picture, looking for the best in the country and for the country, and not concerned about who gets the credit or who is doing it. 

I wonder too, if we might want to take another look at the words. "One Nation under God” and see if that makes any sense anymore. Namaste .


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 30, 2019

A friend of mine writes a weekly, which I read faithfully and this week he wrote on encouragement and how in a race, where had worked very hard and was running it for his dad who could not make it to the race, he was overtaken at the last minute and fell in a heap when a family friend lifted him hugged him and said, I watched you run that race. I’ve never seen anyone with such a desire to win. You are a competitor. You are somebody, never ever forget that.

It reminded me of some years ago when I and a partner were training for a Marathon. THE WHITE ROCK, in hopes of qualifying for Boston. We ran the lake every morning for a month and near the end of the training, we were running and he screamed in pain for his achilles had snapped. Well, race day came, he met me at the start, we said a prayer and I was off. My friend was standing at every water stop and every 5 miles to encourage me and he was standing to welcome me across the finish line. I did that race in the best time of my life and I did not quite qualify for Boston but barely missed it. 

Much of my success that day was a result of my friend being there for me and cheering me on.


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 23, 2019

This week we celebrated the life of Dr. King and today, Jan. 23, is another day important in the history of our great country. 

Dr. King, in a book of his quotes has this to say about morality, "America, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It appears to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress, your mentality out distances your morality, and your civilization out shines your culture." 

In 1968 there was a song written entitled "Abraham, Bobby, Martin and John". After the death of Martin and Bobby, in the same year, I think there were many of my generation who lost some of the shine and enthusiasm about life in America. 

Too many great leaders have had to die. It has deepened my need to lean on a power greater than myself and our country. If God is in control, that gives me some peace of mind in the autumn of my life.


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 16, 2019

Bad News Sells.

Read the paper, watch TV or the net and you will find that Bad News Sells! (I wonder sometimes why I look at the obits so often).

The media seems to put a negative spin on the news. An example one February, the Washington Post ran an headline stating "U.S. Economy gains 400,000 Jobs" report spurs fears. Most people would just consider job growth good news. The Post warned that it could lead to increases interest rates. When growth slowed down a couple of months later, the New York Times ran a headline stating that the reversal was "Stirring Concern". 

When the dollar was weak, the Wall Street Journal warned that it would draw away from foreign investors and threaten our economy, later, when the dollar became strong, the New York Times cried that rapid growth prevents us from being able to "maintain economic stability in the foreign exchange market". 

The bottom line is this; you can put a negative spin on anything -- even good news, or you can find something good in any situation. If you look in an old but classic book, "In His Steps", a group decides, that for a year, each would think before doing anything to as the question... What Would Jesus Do? That is where WWJD came from.

In the book, the editor of the newspaper decides that doing WWJD he would no longer bring Bad News, only Good News. The paper readership sunk, and sunk fast, for you see "Bad News Sells" ... The book however, has a happy ending.


Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 9, 2019

No one, it seems, likes change. It is sometimes difficult, it causes anxiety, and it is fearful. But it can not be avoided.

I would like to be 40 again. Then, I remember, that I also got fired from a fine job when I was about that age. 

Life happens when you make other plans, sometimes. 

I know a guy who makes films some secular and some religious. One film he produced was "The Last Seven Words"

I thought he was talking about the play 7 keys to Balbate Inn, in which I played in High School, or the last 7 words of Jesus from the cross on Good Friday.

Nope, he said. The last 7 words, "We Have Never Done It That Way" We spent the evening watching a most interesting film,

Change is not easy for any of us, I cannot turn back the clock and change seems to come quicker as I get older. I do have the choice given to me by being born with free will, how I will handle change. Many of us will go through Kubler Ross's stages denial, bargaining, depression, anger and finally to acceptance. I am trying to skip some of those steps and just get on with it. 

So, we begin the year with the words "perseverance" and now "acceptance"



Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump January 2, 2019

Two years ago I walked into a health club in Dallas on thanksgving morning. It has about 60 cardio machines and I was surprised to see every one of them occupied. The club closed at noon. I got the message. Everyone was preparing to eat a lot. An hour or so on the treadmill can burn a lot of calories.

I know too, the health clubs await the new year for all of us who have decided, this time, my new years resolution will be to exercise and eat better. 

There is a word that we need to add to our new year decision (PERSEVERANCE)

There is a prevailing adage. "if I change my mind, my behavior will change." Another adage, change my behavior and my mind will change.

That is the bottom line of recovery centers around the country. Maybe that is what the motto "JUST DO IT" means. 

St. Paul who wrote widely years ago has some words for us who are planning the new year. It is the letter to the Romans,Chapter 5; vs 3-5.




Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump December 26, 2018

For the 2nd day of Christmas, a true story from Texas. 

This story happened in the life of the wife of a a minister, when she was very young, to her parents. 

A woman can't obtain a loan in Texas without her husband's signature. The husband must come in and sign. She told the bank 'if my husband could walk, he would not be in the hospital, he would be working and I would not have to borrow any money to pay the rent. The bank guy could not help her. That bleak December evening in 1971, as I drove away from the bank , I was angry. Don's illness, the money problems, sights and smells from the cotton gins, I wanted to be away from it all. 

Since November, when Don injured his back, fear had been my enemy. But I was resolved to be the victor in that battle. On that night, hopelessness became fears' ally, and I had no ammunition for the battle. Four days before Christmas, we had no presents for our little girl Renee, not enough money to pay the rent, buy food, and no Christmas tree. So in the hospital room with him we sat without speaking for there was nothing to say.

Abruptly, the door burst open and in came our Sunday school class singing Christmas carols, smiling faces were a welcome sight. Then one of the members asked if he could pray for Don.

I was amazed by the love of God which showed through these people. After the prayer someone gave a card to us as he opened it a check for $150.00, fell out--just the same amount of money that I had tried to borrow from the bank.

Tears came, but I was embarrassed. How can we ever repay you I asked. The reply was... this is a gift from God, simply handed to you by man. Someday another will be in need, and you can pass the gift of Gods' love to them.

Hope you and I took the opportunity or can take the opportunity to pass the gift along. 




Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump December 19, 2018

I am not a Bible scholar but I did run across a passage years ago that grabbed me as a pastoral person. It was written by St. Paul from prison, not a place that a reading like this might come from.

It is chapter 2 of the book of Philippians and it goes like this: "do nothing from selfishness, or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

That was great, I thought, for a person who is a caretaker by nature, but as I learned -- there was a difference between a "caretaker" and one whom this passage described.

The difference is freedom. If "caretaking" is compulsive, it can not be humility as the passage mentions.

That, in me is a work in progress. This passage, however, is a great one for the holidays with persons coming together, families being to get her. Can we do this passage with some famly members we would rather not see? Can we reconcile this Christmas with that person or persons that have been in our heart for years causing pain, not in them, but us.

We have the freedom if we want to use it and it can be a great gift to others and to us.

Our Christmas will be just that; more joyful. That is my wish from Over The Hump



Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump December 12, 2018

Two contrasting approaches to Christmas:

A pastor in a Church in Texas put a sign in front of his church during the Advent season that said, "Jesus is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas". He received a complaint from a woman in the community who took exception with the message. She closed the conversation by saying. "I don't think the church should try to drag religion into every holiday".

Contrast: Lt. Gerald Coffee spent seven years as a POW during the Vietnam war. During his second Christmas in camp he made an amazing discovery, he had been stripped of everything by which he measured his identity: rank, uniform, family, money. 

Alone in a cramped three-by-seven-foot cell, he began to understand the significance of Christmas. Removed from all commercial distractions, he was able to focus on the simplicity of Christ' birth. Although he was lonely and afraid, he realized that this Christmas could be he most meaningful, because now, more than ever before, he understood the world changing event.

"It's Advent but Christmas is coming."

Bless Somebody Today,

Fr. C

Over the Hump December 5, 2018

When I was in college, I worked part-time during the holidays at Montgomery Wards. One year they had me selling shoes, which was not the most favorite thing for a young college lad, but what they heck. My time was up on Christmas Eve and they closed at 6:00 PM. 

About 4:00, I was invited into the sports dept, to have an eggnog. I had never had eggnog before, at least not like this one. One was enough for me to really enjoy what I was doing for the rest of the afternoon. About closing time, I saw a woman walking in the aisles looking for something. I asked her, and she replied, "I am looking for toys for my children but I only have 5 dollars to spend. In my jolly mood, I grabbed a big, big sack and filled it with as many toys as I could and announced that it would cost 5 dollars. I don't remember if I even put the money in the cash register, but the smile on her face and how I felt as I left the store was worth far more than the money.

Bless Somebody Today,

Fr. C

Over the Hump November 28, 2018

There are some words that are important in AA. They are "Come", "Come To" and "Come To Believe".

Come to the meetings, Come To into your right mind then Come To Believe in the program.

But the words are important in other times of life. For example: years ago I served on the Board of Directors of a hospital in Colorado and thus had access to the E.R and even the O.R once. There was a lady in my congregation whose husband was not a believer. He had a bad heart attack one morning and was rushed to the E.R. When I got there, they were just getting ready to put the paddles on. When they did, I was standing looking down at his head and praying for him. I did not wear a collar, because I did not want to scare him, for he was a lapsed Catholic, thinking I was there for Last Rights. He had "Come" to the hospital. Later he "Came To" and what a great smile on his face when he saw me again, and later, he "Came To Believe" .

There is a similar use of those words in the Good Book, note: Luke, 15:11

Bless Somebody Today,

Fr. C

Over the Hump - November 7, 2018

A movie came out in 1985 entitled "Mask", starring Cher. In the story, Rocky Dennis is an intelligent, outgoing, and funny teenager who suffers from a facial deformity called "lionitis" and has now outlived his life expectancy. His appearance is shocking to both the faculty and students with some of the obvious results (you can imagine).

At the end of the year, he goes off to a camp, I don't remember if it was for those with special needs or not. There, he meets a beautiful blind girl and is immediately smitten. They become close and realize there is something special between them. She even feels his face, but is more aware of his gentleness, kindness, and his feelings for her. They are happy in their relationship until camp ends and her parents come to pick her up.

They see Dennis's face, watches them hug, with some shock and exit the camp soon thereafter. 

I don't have to tell anyone how important it is for us to show a great outside. Those outward attributes are the ones that get the most work, many times to the neglect of those inner things that are more important.

The ones Dennis showed to the young lady, kindness, gentleness, love, friendship, and vulnerability. The story is more important to me at this time in my life, for due to the great generosity of a brother, I was able to have work done on my eyes recently. It has changed my appearance and I am happy with the results. But it is still the same face that I see in the mirror. Every time I look now, I ask myself the question, does my inside life match my outside life? Do I let people see the true inside of me? Do I take the time to get to know the inner part of people I meet and associate with or do I judge people by how they look on the outside?

"I am reminded that we are born in the image of God"

Bless Somebody Today,

Fr. C

Over the Hump 05/16/2018

Have you ever heard a sermon or lecture on the subject of envy, or the 10th commandment? I haven't, but I have lived it. 

It is not that I wake up one day and say "today I am going to be envious”. It just rises up naturally when my brother drives by my house 3 or 4 times in a Mercedes, for which he paid cash. Knowing too, that he had a couple more in his garage. Comparison is human. 

We compare ourselves with others. Sad but true, I have done that more than I care to think about. 

There is an eastern saying, "envy toward the above, competitiveness toward the equal, and contempt toward the lower". We don't usually compare ourselves with the genius, the hedge fund billionaire, or supermodel. We tend to compare ourselves to those who are in our social circle. As the saying goes… want to feel poor, find some rich friends; want to be rich, find some poor friends. Keeping up with the Smiths happens within a peer group. Some years ago, I found myself, comparing myself with some of my peers in a group. I would feel lousy but I could not help it, so I quit the group. 

Envy doesn't leave room for joy. As time went by and I grew a bit more mature, I discovered the remedy for envy and that is gratitude. Having an "attitude of gratitude" may seem trite. But it is true. And it is a great defense to comparing myself to others.




 Bless somebody today!

Over the Hump 05/09/2018

"Hope is the antidote of despair. Despair turns us inward, hope sends us into the arms of others."

These quotes from Bishop Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Southern Africa, in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, in a book entitled "The Book of Joy.”

“All these things happen, but they are unusual, which is why they become news. There are millions and millions of children who are loved by their parents every day. Then in school their teachers care for them. Okay, maybe there are some bad teachers, but most of them really are kind and caring. Then in the hospital, every day millions of people receive immense caring. But this is so common that none of it becomes news. We take it for granted.

“When we look at the news, we must keep this more holistic view. Yes, this or that terrible thing has happened. No doubt, there are very negative things, but at the same time there are many more positive things happening in our world. We must have a sense of proportion and a wider perspective. Then we will not feel despair when we see these sad things.” Neither of these men was asking us to look at the world through rose-colored glasses or to not see the world with anything but a searingly honest view.

“Hope,” the Archbishop said, “is quite different from optimism, which is more superficial and liable to become pessimism when the circumstances change. Hope is something much deeper.”

“I say to people that I’m not an optimist, because that, in a sense, is something that depends on feelings more than the actual reality. We feel optimistic, or we feel pessimistic. Now, hope is different in that it is based not on the ephemerality of feelings but on the firm ground of conviction. I believe with a steadfast faith that there can never be a situation that is utterly, totally hopeless. Hope is deeper and very, very close to unshakable. 

To some, hope is a gift. “To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that, in time, the storm will pass.” 

“Hope is the antidote to despair. Yet hope requires faith, even if that faith is in nothing more than human nature or the very persistence of life to find a way. Hope is also nurtured by relationship, by community”

Hope sends us into the arms of others… look at 9-1-1.… The country was briefly united, many churches were full, families were together, but it was hope that helped us to get through it. 

The bible puts it this way; Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.





Bless somebody today!