April 17 – “Enough”

Friday April 17  –  “ . . . until now.”

Busy days.  I will try not to miss the play of the sun on new grass while I scramble with tasks.  You too, I hope.

Have a lovely weekend.


john st sj

Today’s Post – David  Whyte – 1990

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

David Whyte, in Where Many Rivers Meet, 1990


p.s.       This amazing rescue team took form in UDM’s Dental School Waiting Room when a man collapsed and brought him back to life.  WDIV’s coverage is worth watching;  here’s Dean Aksu’s email giving some context.  WDIV follows.

Message from Dean Aksu:

As you have heard, the School of Dentistry had a medical emergency today in the patient waiting room. At about 9:30 a.m. this morning, a patient became non-responsive in the  waiting room while sitting in a waiting room chair.

Once students and faculty were alerted to the situation, several  faculty from Oral surgery including Dr. Ayman Madaway and Nurse Sue Jones responded to the scene and began to administer CPR and applied an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator to the patient.

Almost immediately, EMS was summoned and emergency resuscitation was begun. What made the event so notable was the obvious commitment of the faculty, students and oral surgery residents to persist and commit to administering CPR even after almost 30 minutes of resuscitation efforts.

The EMS crew arrived within 10 minutes of being called, however the crew dispatched to the UDM School of Dentistry was NOT certified or equipped for ADVANCED LIFE SUPPORT.

The decision was made to continue resuscitation efforts, the patient was intubated and an IV line was initiated to allow for the administration of epinephrine and other DRUGS.

After 7 attempts to defribulate and almost 30 -35 minutes of resuscitation effort with CPR and assisted breathing, the patient’s pulse and breathing were restored.  The patient was transported accompanied by Dr. Helena Perez to the DMC where the patient received a cardiac stent and is recovering.

The sheer commitment and tenacity of the first responders including Faculty, Students and Oral Surgery Residents is to be commended and is what attracted the attention of all those who saw this event. The patients in the waiting room applauded at the success of the team.

Please call me if you have any questions.

Mert N. Aksu, DDS, JD, MHSA

WDIV Channel 4 Story:


Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

April 15 — Rushing the summer a little

Wednesday April 15 –  “for skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow”

Gerard Manley Hopkins, sj wrote this jewel of praise in 1877; it was only published in 1918, long after he died in 1889.   What is it like to write with such grace and not much expectation of recognition  . . . .  ?    Teachers do that over and over.   They write critiques of student’s work on the margins of lab reports, or assigned papers; they scold and encourage during office hours and on the sidewalk.  So do lots of the women and men who work at a university, in this place of learning.  Encouraging students, especially when coupled with candor, is one of the great deeds of employees at universities around the world.  Gratitude can go unnoticed for years, like this poem did.  And surprise can run deep when you hear intense respect years later.  The saying, “beauty is its own reward”?   Hopkins gets it.

Best to read the poem several times, out loud with pauses.  Maybe while glancing at the sky or the green grass.    It’s not summer yet but it sure is Spring.

Have a good day.


john st sj

Today’s Post,  “Pied Beauty”  Gerard Manley Hopkins, sj

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.


G. M. Hopkins, sj   1844-1889


Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

April 13 – Tagore, longing, desire, and doubt

Monday, April 13 —  capricious weather and very early buds

Beginning a week’s work near the end of a term’s work  . . .  while the world turns bright all around us.   I spent the weekend in New England; they’ve had a colder spring than we; the trees are still winter naked and the land only begins to recover from all those piles of snow and ice.   A lovely surprise to come back home this morning to leaf-buds showing their colors and, driving in from Metro, seeing real live summer grass showing off here and there along I-94.   All this energy encourages  me to stop and taste some wonder.

Rabindranath Tagore, a master of sacred presence, writes in today’s post, that tastes of wonder and courage and beauty and tenderness compete with gloom and restless edginess.   Distractions lose connection with the deep down mystery.  “Trust the mystery,”  says Tagore, “even when trust feels out of reach.”

Have a blest week.


john sj

Today’s Post  —  Tagore  # 38, in Gitanjali

That I want Thee, only thee–let my heart repeat without end.
All desires that distract me, day and night,
are false and empty to the core.

As the night keeps hidden in its gloom the petition for light,
even thus in the depth of my unconsciousness rings the cry–
“I want thee, only thee.”

As the storm still seeks its end in peace when it strikes against
peace with all its might, even thus my rebellion strikes against thy love
and still its cry is–“I want thee, only thee.”

Tagore, Gitanjali n. 38


The Nobel Prize in Literature 1913
Rabindranath Tagore

Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

April 10 – Passover week

Friday April 10 – “ . . . only the terrible blessing of the journey.”

Catherine McAuley and Ignatius Loyola both took the journey seriously.  Perhaps more than seriously, . . .  as sacred and central.   “The journey makes the world our house,” wrote Ieronimo Nadal, sj, sent by Ignatius to mentor just-born little communities of the just-born Jesuit order.  Catherine trekked the wretched roads of Ireland finding, and founding, houses of Mercy.

Lynn Ungar writes about an older, deep understanding.  The journey of Passover, like that of UDM’s two founding spirits, trumps the safe and static.  At our best, we teach our students to love risks, to imagine the dangers of surprises, to exult in challenges.   This is the end of Passover Week and we are rounding the last bend into final exams at the university.  Both make a good time to remember the deep human longing to be disturbed by grace.

Have a good weekend.


john sj

Lynn Ungar: “Passover”

Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai on Apr 03, 2015 12:00 am


Then you shall take some of the blood, and put it on the door posts and the lintels of the houses . . . and when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

—Exodus 12:7 & 13

They thought they were safe
that spring night, when they daubed
the doorways with sacrificial blood.
To be sure, the angel of death
passed them over, but for what?
Forty years in the desert
without a home, without a bed,
following new laws to an unknown land.
Easier to have died in Egypt
or stayed there a slave, pretending
there was safety in the old familiar.

But the promise, from those first
naked days outside the garden,
is that there is no safety,
only the terrible blessing
of the journey. You were born
through a doorway marked in blood.
We are, all of us, passed over,
brushed in the night by terrible wings.

Ask that fierce presence,
whose imagination you hold.
God did not promise that we shall live,
but that we might, at last, glimpse the stars,
brilliant in the desert sky.


“Passover” by Lynn Ungar. Text as published in What We Share: Collected Meditations, Volume Two, edited by Patricia Frevert (Skinner House, 2001).

Art credit: “Stars over the Negev Desert,” photograph taken on June 7, 2007, by Matt O. From the caption: “much better in person.”

Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

Viola Liuzzo Park

Wednesday April 8 –  Color Blind Angel, “you laid your young life down”  (blues singer Robin Rogers –  Dec 19.2010)

Today’s post is unusual.  Last Sunday’s Detroit Free Press article about Viola Liuzzo and the park named for her touched several months of conversations with Julie Hamilton (Personal Counseling/Wellness Coordinator UDM School of Dentistry) about the Park.  We talked again Monday and decided to dedicate today’s post to Viola and the park.  http://www.freep.com/story/life/2015/04/04/metro-detroiters-unite-honor-viola-liuzzo/25300385/

Viola Liuzzo’s park is a story close to the heart of Detroit, the city, and of the university.  As Detroiter Libbie Rutherford says:  “…when you have more eyes on a park and people are using it, the crime rate goes down.”  Parks matter.  Their names hold stories that tell the courage and grace of people who have lived here before us.

Detroit honors itself by setting aside some days this week to hold Viola, this amazing brave woman, up into the light.  I drove west on 7 Mile to Greenfield yesterday and found my way to the Viola Liuzzo park.  It’s small, as parks go, and can still could use some new equipment, but is cared about:  a place in its neighborhood.

We hope to tease you into reading the free press article from Sunday and listening to the blues singer Robin Rogers’ 5 minute ballad for Viola; Non-blues fans will probably be startled by RR’s classic grace and power.  By the end of her 5 minutes, you may grieve, as I do, that this citizen of Detroit died too young riddled with bullets a half century ago.  The song Rogers wrote and sings, “Color Blind Angel,” is just below and is our post.

I also asked Julie Hamilton to give us background about all this in a postscript.


john st sj


Today’s Post

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1f9H6C4cFU  (robin rogers:  5:24 minutes) 

Color Blind Angel

Viola, Viola, you laid your young life down.
From Selma to heaven, 3 Ks took you out.
Color blind angel battled bigotry.
Viola, Viola lives on in history.

Verse 1:
Left your home in the winterland, southbound with a dream.
Edmund Pettis bridge, violence on the screen.
Freedom summer of ’65 is where you had to be,
Stand up for your fellow man, erase hypocrisy.


Verse 2:
March 25, Alabam, along a lonesome road,
Shots rang out on a hate-filled night, now the world would know:
Motor City mother, lily-white and sincere,
Gave her life for the civil rights, fought against the fear.


Verse 3:
Walkin’ for the right to vote seems old-fashioned now,
Martin’s vision reigns supreme, all colors can be proud.
The legacy of all that fought goes on eternally.
Women and men from walks of life live on in history.


Historical Background for this week in northwest Detroit

Who was Viola: Viola Liuzzo was a 39 year old mother of five living on Detroit’s west side when in 1965 she watched news reports of attacks on civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama, as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  Soon after, she heard the call from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Selma and join the march. Something happened in Viola as she listened.  She answer Dr. King and went to Selma. As a member of the NAACP, she knew the risk.  She asked her best friend, Sarah Evans, a black woman, to watch over her children if something happened to her while in Selma.

Five hours after the successful March on Selma, Viola Liuzzo was killed by KKK members, one of whom was an FBI informant. She was shot to death while giving rides to other civil rights workers who had completed the historic march. Her family’s devastation was further traumatized when crosses began to be burned in their front yard, death threats arrived, and stories began to emerge in the press defaming their mother’s character and questioning her stability. They later learned these stories came from FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover’s office. For over two years they were forced to have armed guards at the front and back doors of their home. Viola was one white woman who died during the civil rights movement. No one was ever convicted in her murder.

Why we were moved by Viola: My friend, Colette Mezza, and I had both heard the story of Viola on WDET/NPR two years ago. We were touched by how deeply committed to her values she was, and how she was willing to risk everything for her fellow citizens.  The decision to leave her children and drive to Selma, has to this day triggered strong reactions, questioning why she would do such a thing. To hear her children today explain it…she wanted to make the world better for them. She ended up doing just that.  A few months after her ultimate sacrifice, the Voters Rights Act was passed.

The Viola Liuzzo Park: The Viola Liuzzo Park is located in the area of Greenfield and Eight Mile Road. It was named in honor of Viola in the early 1970’s. Over the years, it has become tired and dilapidated, like many residential areas of Detroit.  People living nearby have been taking care of the park and joined us, along with members of the Gospel Tabernacle Church on Greenfield (at Vassar), in developing plans to restore it.  We have been quietly meeting in the basement of the church, and over the months many people have stopped by to join the effort, including Dorothy Aldridge, a former member of SNCC. The miracle of this project is that it has become something much more than a park restoration…it has become the culmination of an amazing blend of citizens from many backgrounds and experiences, passionate about Viola’s legacy and the city of Detroit. The restoration of the park is also about healing… for the Liuzzo family, the neighborhood, the city, and, yes, even the people who have met each other working to restore this brave woman’s park.  We have used Viola’s values (unity, integrity, respect, compassion, equality, and lightheartedness) to guide us as we move forward.



  1. 4/10 1:30 p.m. – Honorary Doctorate award ceremony for Viola Liuzzo. Wayne State University
  2. 4/11 1:00 p.m. – Prof. Michael Placco speaking: Viola Liuzzo: A Passionate Undertaking at Cultural Center at Macomb Community College 44575 Garfield Road (at Hall Road), Clinton Twp., MI  48038 (call 586.445.7348).
  3. 4/11 4:00-6:00 p.m. – Celebration of Friends of Viola Liuzzo Park
    • Celebration of what would have been Viola Liuzzo’s 90th birthday
    • Fitness activities and walk
    • Announcement of ground breaking for park renovations
  4. 4/12 11:00 a.m. First Unitarian Church – Sermon; some of or all of the Liuzzo family will speak.
  5. 4/12 2:00 p.m. – Dorothy Turkel/Frank Lloyd Wright House Fundraiser.  Tickets $60 – $1000. Dean Robb will speak at 3 p.m. 
  6. 4/13 5:30 p.m. – WSU Morris Dees & Dean Robb presentation on Viola Liuzzo
  7. 4/14 7:00 p.m. – Gospel Tabernacle Church Fundraiser sponsored by MCHR.  $5.00 donation at the door. 
Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

April 6 – Easter Monday and Opening Day at the Ball Park

Opening Day in Motown = Ernie Harwell and The Song of Solomon.

Can’t say how good it feels to listen to Ernie Harwell.  Here he is on a youtube clip and in print from The Song of Solomon.

For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon
Read on Tigers Opening Day for decades by Ernie Harwell

Ernie, lots of us miss you.  jstsj


Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

April 3 – About grieving

Good Friday,  April 3  ” I have concluded that since it is beyond our comprehension, Jesus came not to explain suffering but to weep with us and to suffer with us.”  Francis

I hadn’t planned a post today;  I’ve been sifting emails that I saved but hadn’t the time to read.  This one, from January 23, changed my mind.  Tom Reese wrote about Pope Francis encountering a weeping 12 year old Filipino.  This is not a poem; it’s a column.  To me, it reads like a Good Friday contemplation.

Pope Francis: ‘If you don’t learn how to weep, you’re not a good Christian’ by Thomas Reese


john sj

Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

Easter Day

Let him Easter in us,  be a day-spring to the dimness of us
be a crimson-cresseted east

G M Hopkins sj


My favorite Easter prayer.  Have a blest day.

john sj

Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

April 1 – Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rūmī (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎) 1207–>1273

Wednesday  April 1  –  “This being human is a guest house.”

Sometimes, one of the readers of this poetry blog steps into the editor’s role and suggests repeating a previous poem.  So yesterday afternoon.  “’The Guest House,’ my favorite poem so far in all these posts.”   “But,” I replied, we posted it late in January;  this runs pretty close in time.”  “So what?”  s/he replied.  “It’s beautiful.”  Good call.  I’ve read it 3 times since getting up and I think I am the better for it.    Perhaps you will be too.   Best to read the poem out loud, with some pauses; maybe more than once through the day.

Weather.com says sun by 10:30, good high pressure system, and 51% humidity by two.    Daffodils look more energetic by the day.

Have a blest day.


john sj

Today’s Post Today’s Post “The Guest House”

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī  (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎)
Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic 1207-1273.

Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment

March 30 – Susan Rooke, another new poet

Monday, March 30  “Then you relax your hand, and all the skin relaxes, letting go the taut shine of youth . . . “

March30 — the second last day of March which, the saying goes, “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”  Whoever thought the saying first must have lived somewhere where March weather is fickle and tentative.  Blustery.  Surely not Tucson or Miami.   Tentative weather months are the blessing of geographies where the tilt of the sun against the earth creates seasons rich with teasing, soft breezes swept away by 25 mph bluster.  The teasing sharpens the appetite for new flowers and fresh grass.  A great moment in the year for the Christian feast of Resurrection, thousands of tiny explosions of new life and improbable beauty.

Today’s post comes from a list that often expands my horizons (“A Year of being Here: mindfulness poetry by wordsmiths of the here & now”).  Susan Rooke is new to me and, perhaps, to you.  Today’s post, “A Marriage in the Hands,” can be read any day in any season of the year.  Understated love, so intimate.  It measures time in decades, not the rapid fire swirl of springtime energy only.

Have a blest day.


John sj

Today’s Post —  Susan Rooke: “A Marriage in the Hands”
Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai on Mar 25, 2015 12:00 am


You make a fist, that I might see
your skin grow tight again,
smoothed across your hand.

Those big hands that you like
to joke are too heavy when carried
all day at the ends of your arms.

Then you relax your hand,
and all the skin relaxes, letting
go the taut shine of youth,

and I see your sacrifice,
the thirty years you’ve held
us close, held my strength

for me, and all your tenderness.
I put my own hand out, relaxed,
palm down, next to yours.

You are aging, so am I, and this
is something we have sworn
always to do as one. Undeniably

I see we have. Then you make
a fist again. I make my own.
As one we smooth the way ahead.


“A Marriage in the Hands” by Susan Rooke.

Susan Rooke lives in Austin, Texas.  Despite her normal façade, she’s always been interested in the mysterious and odd, and has completed the first novel of a fantasy series. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The Texas Poetry Calendar 2013Pulse: voices from the heart of medicine, San Pedro River Review, and on Austin Capital Metro buses.  She and her husband of almost 30 years (who indulges her interests without subscribing to them himself), spend as much time in the mountains of West Texas as possible.

Posted in Mission and Identity | Leave a comment