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A Couple of My Favorite Chesterton Quotes

G.K. Chesterton“According to most philosophers, God in making the world enslaved it. According to Christianity, in making it, He set it free. God had written, not so much a poem, but rather a play; a play he had planned as perfect, but which had necessarily been left to human actors and stage-managers, who had since made a great mess of it.”
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

“An abyss of light”

There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we ourselves are incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real. It is the fundamental fact of being, as against not being; it is unthinkable, yet we cannot unthink it, though we may sometimes be unthinking about it; unthinking and especially unthanking. For he who has realized this reality knows that it does outweigh, literally to infinity, all lesser regrets or arguments for negation, and that under all our grumblings there is a subconscious substance of gratitude. That light of the positive is the business of the poets, because they see all things in the light of it more than do other men. Chaucer was a child of light and not merely of twilight, the mere red twilight of one passing dawn of revolution, or the grey twilight of one dying day of social decline. He was the immediate heir of something like what Catholics call the Primitive Revelation; that glimpse that was given of the world when God saw that it was good; and so long as the artist gives us glimpses of that, it matters nothing that they are fragmentary or even trivial; whether it be in the mere fact that a medieval Court poet could appreciate a daisy, or that he could write, in a sort of flash of blinding moonshine, of the lover who “slept no more than does the nightingale”. These things belong to the same world of wonder as the primary wonder at the very existence of the world; higher than any common pros and cons, or likes and dislikes, however legitimate. Creation was the greatest of all Revolutions. It was for that, as the ancient poet said, that the morning stars sang together; and the most modern poets, like the medieval poets, may descend very far from that height of realization and stray and stumble and seem distraught; but we shall know them for the Sons of God, when they are still shouting for joy. This is something much more mystical and absolute than any modern thing that is called optimism; for it is only rarely that we realize, like a vision of the heavens filled with a chorus of giants, the primeval duty of Praise.

G.K. Chesterton— Chaucer (1932).

One of the most beautiful things I have ever read

In an email exchange today I asked a friend who retired two years ago how he was doing. below was his response and it was absolutely beautiful.

 

Hand in handI’m loving retirement. I learned to play tennis and get to play golf a lot more too. And I walk 6 miles per day. I’m in the best shape of my life. But the best part is I get to spend everyday with my wife after 30+ years of travelling most of the time. We were both a little nervous about that but it’s really worked out wonderfully. She was my best friend and now she is again. I’m a lucky guy. 

Farewell to Summer for Jon Patterson

Jon PattersonBelow is the adaptation of the song Big John for our summer intern at Heraeus, Jon Patterson, who is going back to Fordham University and will not be able to stay on full time at our company.

Big Jon (Patterson)

Ev’ry mornin’ in the city you could see him arrive

He stood six foot six and weighed two twenty five

Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip

And everybody knew, ya didn’t give no lip to Big Jon

(Big Jon, Big Jon)

Big Bad Jon

(Big Jon)

We all knew where Jon called home

He just came into town and stayed all alone

He didn’t say much, he was kinda quiet and shy

And if you spoke at all, he just said, “Hi”, Big Jon

Somebody said he came from Mastic Beach

Where he got in a fight over a Long Island Queen

And a crashin’ blow from his huge right hand

Sent a Farmingdale fellow to the Promised Land, Big Jon

(Big Jon, Big Jon)

Big Bad Jon

(Big Jon)

Then came the day he was workin’ on time

When the market collapsed and all started cryin’

Employees were prayin’ and hearts beat fast

And everybody thought the precious metals market breathed its last, ‘cept Jon

Through the dust and the smoke of this market shell

Walked a giant of a man that everyone knew well

Put his fingers to the keyboard, without a groan

And like a giant Oak tree, he just stood there alone, Big Jon

(Big Jon, Big Jon)

Big Bad Jon

(Big Jon)

And with all of his strength he typed a ton

Then a trader yelled out, “There’s a light up above”

And all the team scrambled from a P&L grave

Only one man thank for he was brave, Big Jon

With chairs and computers, the traders stood ground

With his help they turned things around

And then the summer days ended, it was that time

Everybody knew it was the end of full time, for Big Jon

(Big Jon, Big Jon)

Big Bad Jon

(Big Jon)

Now they all still work in that trading pit

Missing his silence where he was quick to sit

These few words are written just to say

Heraeus will miss him every day, big, big man, Big Jon

(Big Jon, Big Jon)

Big Bad Jon

(Big Jon)

(Big Jon)

Big Bad Jon

Copyright  Miguel Perez-Santalla 🙂

Reason to Rejoice

Hidden pondI was walking on a trail in the Watchung Reservation with my three dogs. It was a hot day and this is the best time to go into the woods were the temperature is typically 10 to 20 degrees cooler. There were very few people in the woods, most likely because a Saturday in August draws people to beaches and pools. It was a pleasure and though we did see others in the woods it was very quiet and I felt very isolated.

I sat for a few moments to give the dogs a rest and to watch and listen to nature unveil itself around me. I sat on a log and I was able to spot some deer about a tenth of a mile away. I also spotted a woodpecker. Later while walking I would see some other birds but most are skittish and once they hear me they move so fast I can’t identify them.

Still as we walked through the woods I couldn’t help but wonder how many persons walked through here. I thought back to the times of George Washington and his men and how they probably passed through here on the way to the battle of Union. I thought about the local Indians and how this was their stomping grounds.Then I looked at all the tress that lovers and travelers carved their initials on.

So many people have passed through here. Some may have thought themselves important. But nature always brings you back to reality as the awesomeness raises my own awareness of my mortality and lack of importance. I am humbled as I walk among the trees many that may be as much as one hundred or more years old.

It dawned on me. Life is a gift and the short time we are here we need to appreciate and use to the best of our abilities. By working towards the greater good with a true love for life and the life of all around us we become a very important part of the life of the world. We become givers of life to the next generation and to those that live around us. Now that is an important function and responsibility.

We all have a responsibility to live to our fullest. That is the gift we call life. So I left the woods feeling invigorated and joyful.

I wish all my walks were as productive!

Have a great life!

Miguel Perez-Santalla

2006- Revisited

From: January, 2006

It was about one year ago I made a difficult change in my life. It didn’t affect many people. It was simply that I had decided to befriend and get to know a homeless person. I felt like St. Francis, I had an aversion to the destitute of society and I needed to break that association and come to know them as children of God.

It so happened that there was a colored woman who every morning would sit in front of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral gift shop on 51st street (right over a grate where heat would come up). I remember before the first day I approached her I used to look down at her. I remember there was always crumbled food next to her and I thought it was disgusting. I always averted contact with people like her believing that many are drug addicts, alcoholic etc. and that I should not give them money because I may be supporting their habit. So though I knew in my mind they actually have the same gift of life from God that I have, I treated them like lesser people.

Then I made the effort. It started at first I would just give her a few dollars a day, which made me feel better. However I truly did not change until she asked me my name. Her name was Ann. She had a beautiful smile when you spoke to her. The crumbs she placed on the ground where there to feed the birds. She was an avid reader and enjoyed science fiction. She smoked cigarettes, but only two or three a day. Every day I saw her brought me great joy. She would ask me about my family, my children, my weekend, and my business trips. I would ask her about her health and if she needed anything. She always said she was fine.

Then one week she was not in her spot for a few days. I was concerned and hoped she would come back soon. On Thursday morning she was back. She told me she has a heart condition and had been in the hospital. I told her I would pray for her recovery and I asked her to quit smoking. That was a few months ago.

Recently, I went to mass with a coworker who I had gotten a Mass said for his departed grandmother. I saw my friend enjoy the mass and feel close to his grandmother a year after her death. We came out of the cathedral and went across the street; I was sharing with him my morning routine and so I introduced him to Ann. Ann said to me, “You’re really happy this morning.” I said I was because my friend Gerry was with me. Gerry said hello and I gave her some money and we said goodbye. It was a special morning.

The week before Ann told me one of her favorite book collections is “The Lord of the Rings”. I was planning on bringing her the full collection in paperback as a gift. Then sadly the day after I spoke to her with Gerry she was not at her normal spot. It has now been almost three weeks since I have seen her. I looked for her at lunch time in different buildings with public parks where she told me she is often found. I did not find her. I have been praying for her everyday hoping that she is well and that I may see her gain.

Sadly I fear that she may not be coming back. I know she would have good and bad days with her heart condition and she often talked it down. Now I am thinking that I may not have done enough to help her. I should have tried harder. I know that I did not give to her as much as she gave to me. She opened my eyes and my heart to the love of God. Her concern for me, a person in a much better state in life, made a significant impression on me. She truly cared for me as a true friend. She had love, the kind of love that we should share and have for all people. She had a truly Christian heart and I will strive to be like her.

I still hold hope that she may come back. But if the good Lord took her I am certain that she is in the bosom of his love. I will continue praying for her everyday not knowing for sure what has happened to her. And if she is in Heaven I know that she prays for me to our Lord.

With love in my heart I say God bless you Ann wherever you may be.

Die for Truth

Over the centuries there have been people willing to courageously speak the truth. Even when the path of least resistance would have secured their own prosperity. The path of least resistance, silence, when one looks at the history of man is the road that allows evil to have its way.

Slavery of the masses has always been achieved by the powerful minority through the ascent to evil by silence and inaction. The threat of punishment or being cast out has been enough to keep people under control. Political correctness is that same ploy used throughout human history. Sadly many would rather bite their tongues when they see evil rather than risk retribution.

Then of course there are those that will risk all to make change that is just and proper. To the men and women who throughout history have stood tall in the face of injustice and tyranny I have the greatest admiration. I pray that if such a challenge were placed before me that I have the courage to do the same. I feel it is better to die with love of truth by our words and deed than to live with complacency towards evil and cowardice in the soul.

Live and Let Die

I recently have been to a few steak restaurants. Interestingly enough you may know that I have not eaten beef in over a month. Still, these visits have raised a new observation. Many of the restaurants are now owned under group names and chains that are beholden to their investors in many cases equity firms. This means they need to show returns.

To show returns I see that prices have been raised across the board. Portion sizes are also ridiculously large, in my estimation to entice the greedy ego to spend more than necessary. This becomes a profitable business but it may be a good business at the moment but I really do not believe we will see continued growth in that sector. The reason is because I see that on the flip-side the major corporations who are beholden to their investors whether public or private are squeezing their employees pay to improve their returns in price earnings.

This means that the investment community is squeezing from both ends of the spectrum. This is why as many in our society have observed the rich become richer and the middle working class is slowly disappearing and becoming part of the struggling working class. When the people don’t earn enough to go to fancy steak restaurants of this ilk, they will disappear. You have to live and let live, earn but still pay just wages. But it is becoming more apparent that some in our society believe in live and let die.

NO- A Good Word

NO is not a bad word. It is an affirmative and confirmation of a direction. I like the word very much, the words I don’t like are “maybe”, “I’ll get back to you” or “I’m not sure”. Yes is equally a good word and for the same reason. Any other response that is not yes or no is often a delay tactic. Of course there are times that we may not have an answer and it is legitimate to say you will respond later  but the goal should always be to come back to someone with an affirmation either in the positive or negative. Any other type of answer leaves the other person in limbo and is quite rude if we perpetually keep them in the lurch because we lack the resolution to say “NO” or “YES”. In other words, don’t waste your time or anyone else’s by putting off something that could be answered right away. This is why I say I like to hear NO even if I don’t want it, it gives closure and enables me to move on.

Constant Longing

TwilightEarly morning sun
A welcome guest
Too short when it comes
A light-fest

Rising become easy
Like a lover’s kiss
She wakes me
I rise for this

The joy it brings
It warms the heart
Smiles abound
Great way to start

Days filled with laughter
And wonderment
Life enriching
Life’s compliment

Slowly
She begins to fade
Less time for me
I grow afraid

Darkness comes
No rising light
Taking over
The coming plight

Dreams of her
Will keep me going
Her every word
Bright and showing

Be the light
For others to see
Chase the black
Out to sea

Peace and love
Triumph always
Battle charge
Opens pathways

A swift return
This I pray for
A hope that’s full
A dream I care for

Rising sun
Come back to me
I miss you so
Don’t let me bleed

Your light fills
Every essence
Without you
Life lacks presence

Opening eyes
I see your rising
All is right
Blinding and uncompromising

© Miguel Perez-Santalla

Goya Crackers

This morning I was sitting outside enjoying the beautiful Saturday morning and watching the birds. I had prepared myself a cup of black coffee and crackers with cream cheese. The crackers I was eating today back in 1973 were unique to this small town in New Jersey.

The memory of me being 12 years old and showing up to play baseball with a bag of them flooded my senses. Not more than half a mile from the house I live at now stands the same dugout where a nervous and not very good child baseball player showed up one spring day with this surprise.

Little League Team

I showed up with a bag of Goya Crackers. This Latino company selling predominantly to the refugees of Cuba and immigrants from other Latin American nations was basically unheard of in Mountainside, New Jersey. In fact back then the closest place you could buy them was at stores in the town of Elizabeth which had at that time one of the greater Latino populations, which really wasn’t too big either.  Now you can buy these crackers at almost all the major grocery stores in NJ.

Goya CrackersThat day over 40 year ago, the crackers were a hit. The team asked if could bring them regularly. I am sure I did bring them a few more times but the only memory that sticks with me is that first day. I remember the kids clambering over me asking for more and eating them like there would be no tomorrow. I probably struck out every at bat, but I sure felt like the team hero that day.

Some times I wish that I could relive a moment like that. There is never really a way to do it but to linger on the memory and share it with everyone this morning just puts a smile on my face. I hope it brought one to yours as well.