Giving Thanks

This evening and tomorrow: Concert: A Place Called Home flyer v1


Thursday we attended the Minnesota Orchestra, and on the program was a piece by Shostakovich, Concerto No. 2 for Cello and Orchestra, performed by the Orchestra’s Cello Principal, Anthony Ross.

Anthony and the Minnesota Orchestra exemplify “excellence”, and so it was Thursday.  He and colleague cellists offered an encore entitled “Song of the Birds“, memorably performed by Pablo CasalsHere is the piece performed by Casals himself years ago.

Tony dedicated the encore to refugees, and to social justice.  Simply, let the piece, and Pablo Casals, speak for themselves.  Thank you, Tony Ross.


Life is full of surprises, if one is open to them.

Saturday evening we attended the annual dinner of the Islamic Resource Group in the Twin Cities.

Keynote speaker Todd Green of Luther College spoke on “Assuming the Best of Our Muslim Neighbors“.

Among his remarks he articulated three rules of engagement by theologian Krister Stendahl (more detail at end of this post):

  1.  When trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies;
  2. Don’t copare your best to their worst;
  3. Leave room for “holy envy”.

I was in that room Saturday night because of memorable hospitality by a Moslem family when I was in 8th grade, 65 years ago.  More here.


Sunday, I was at the 100th anniversary commemoration of the end of WWI at the Landmark Center in St. Paul, sponsored by Veterans for Peace. The very fine gathering ended with the song made famous by John Denver: Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream.  People were invited to dance.  (if you click on the above link, it will redirect you to YouTube, and the song.)

Armistice Day, St. Paul MN, Nov. 11, 2018. Landmark Center.


Then, Thursday came an e-mail from nephew Sean in Houston TX.   He’d been part of a “sleepout” for Covenant House.  $651,802 was contributed; Sean brought in $14,200 through his own efforts.  Included in his e-mail were these comments:

Starfish story: You may not make a difference to ALL – but you can make ALL the difference to one.

“I stayed up late because I wanted to see everyone sleeping out, I started to cry because you were all doing it for me” (Young woman at Covenant House)

“No one knows I am here, please no photos” (Young man going into the army from Covenant House)

“As I laid my sleeping bag on the ground I thought about bugs and rodents. I did not worry about being robbed or raped.” (Sleeper talking about the experience)

“50% or more say they have been “trafficked””. (Talking about those who come to Covenant House)

“They come from all over – we have even seen parents abandon their kids by dropping them on the corner and speeding away”

Thank you for helping me make a difference – most importantly to all those at Covenant House and whom they service – but also most profoundly in my awareness and appreciation and the push outside the comfort zone. There are great people out there – they just need us to see them as people – not homeless…This last thought struck true as I walked into a Starbucks, disheveled, sleeping bag, back pack, and to various stares and eyes as I went to use the bathroom – on my way back to my office…no one knew what we have all done last night – no one needs to know – except the woman who got the pair of socks – that was what mattered.”

(NOTE: earlier in Sean’s note: “1 woman whose face lit up and said “God bless you” for a pair of socks”.)


Then came cousin Mary Kay’s notice about tonights concert (lead in this blog) which, I gather includes homeless persons as singers.  Quite certainly we’ll be there.


The bad news?  Of course, it’s out there.

But let’s look at the positive for a few days, anyway.  Have a great weekend, week, and Thanksgiving.


Krister Stendahl: Prof. Green’s remarks merited and received a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience in the filled ballroom at the hotel.  I had never heard of these rules, nor of Prof. Stendahl before Saturday.  Google his name; an excellent articulation of the rules is found here.  The rules are clear, brief and easy to understand.

Todd Green Nov. 10, 2018

Comment from Doreen, read in Mary McGlone’s column in the Nov. 18, 2018 National Catholic Reporter:

“In 1912, as political events were churning toward World War I, the French poet Charles Péguy wrote a book-length poem about God and hope, “The Portal of the Mystery of Hope.”

In part, it read:  The [virtue] I love best, says God, is hope. Faith doesn’t surprise me … [creation is so resplendent] … Charity … doesn’t surprise me … these poor creatures … unless they had a heart of stone, how could they not have love? … But hope, says God, that is something that surprises me….”

from Dick: This reminds me of a painting of a flag given to friends of Harold Stassen on his 90th birthday in 1997.  Stassen was one of the signers of the UN Charter in 1945.  The painting by Robert Mulder. loaned to me by a friend who had inherited it.

And in 1939, Christina Berning, a ND farm wife and relative I barely knew, sat down and wrote this poem (page 60 of “Pioneers”, a family history I put together in 2005.)  Christina died in 1950 RIP.


Strong winds are fiercely blowing / Winter days are cold and drear / Tis nice to sit by fireside glowing / And feel that spring soon will be here.

Cheer up, cheer up, my dear friend / And prepare ye for the spring / Winter so cold, soon will end / And the birds again will sweetly sing.

We will all hope and pray / for surely then we shall see / The dawning of a new day / and nineteen thirtynine’s prosperity

Then if we work, with might and main, / And carefully put our seed in / God will give us plenty of rain / To fill up our old grain bin.

2 replies
  1. Kathy Valdez
    Kathy Valdez says:

    Thank you Dick for lending your beautiful voice midst the chaos ’round us and a Blessed Thanksgiving to you, family and the community of hope that’s ’round us as well…


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