Dear Malin Reese,
I have a confession to make but before I get to that, here are a few scraps of pseudo-wisdom.
- Do travel the world. Every inch of it if you’re able.
- Do remember, especially during your teenage years, that your Mom is going to be your best friend one day.
- Do be your own biggest advocate but do it with humility.
- Do be curious and ask a lot of questions.
- Do offer your sweet smile, even to perfect strangers. As long as they’re wearing pants and not loitering near an unmarked white van.
- Don’t read The Notebook before you read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Better yet, maybe just don’t read Nicholas Sparks novels.
- Don’t forget that the homeless person on the corner probably has a sad story that explains their lot in life.
- Don’t disappoint your Mom and I by attending college at the U of A. Seriously.
- Don’t judge me for the man crush I have on Ryan Gosling. And Matt Damon. And Clive Owen. I’ll stop now.
- Don’t substitute your Iphone for human interaction.
Back to my confession now. This is really hard for me to admit and I’m having a difficult time even patching together the right words. It’s taken a few weeks for it to settle in my own head. So here goes…
I LOVE the new Pope.
Let me explain. I’m not a person of Faith and I’m surely not religious. And I think it’s good for you to know that those two things don’t often coalesce. In fact, the people of Faith in my life that I love and respect the most are the ones that keep religion the furthest away from them. My problem with religion and the organization of it is this: It drives people to do crazy things like speak in tongues and vote Republican. You know what else it does? Too often it compels people to take human life.
So I hope you can understand my internal struggle when this guy Francis came along to be the new face of the Catholic Empire, an Empire that has embodied a lot of the negatives associated with Religion. At first glance he didn’t seem much different than the Pope’s before him. He was old, white and weathered. He wore a big garish cross, a silly white robe and occasionally a hat that was borrowed from one of Elton John’s 1970’s Tours. But I quickly learned that he is different. Remarkably so. He’s taken ownership of the Church’s sex scandal something the previous Pope yawned at. He’s spoken about helping the poor and railed against the excesses of Capitalism. He even had the guts to say this about homosexuals:
“If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency (to homosexuality) is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”
Pope Francis’ works and his words and his commitment to serve the needs of others (gulp) inspires me because the plain fact is that I don’t do enough to help other people. I lament that there’s injustice in the world. I’m saddened by the homeless guy on Olive and 8th that I pass everyday. But just as quickly, I forget about those things and marvel instead about the beautiful layer of foam at the top of my vanilla latte. The lesson here is simple; Be open to inspiration from the people or places you least expect it to come from; And when it strikes you, let it kick you in the ass and send you off to add something positive to the world.