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Happy St. Patrick's Day — Saturday March 17 2001

Thoughts on play

Some general thoughts on play. Play is the appointed work of children. It is in being playful that they explore the world, their human community, and the purpose of their lives. If children are pressed into work/production too early, their development is truncated. It's vital that parents and teachers recognize the value of play and encourage it and even participate in it as part of child development. (We've generally observed that young animals, and not only human children, like to play. Well trained dogs like to play their whole lives but are the only animals we know well that can also enjoy "work" (hunting, helping their masters) and regard it as play.)

Play takes many forms, but the common ground of all forms of play is that they are chosen by the participants, rather than resented or accepted under duress. As a high school junior, I mentioned to a classmate that I expected college to be more fun and less burdensome than high school. High school, academically (the social aspect is entirely apart), wanted to give me mostly things I didn't want (perhaps I needed them without appreciating that, but that's another issue). But after deciding at age 14 or so that I wanted to go to college, I spent a lot of time on how it could be worked out. One of the things I did was read some of Shakespeare's plays during down time in high school, causing comments from fellow students and some attention among faculty members. I didn't like reading Shakespeare, but I knew if I majored in English in college, I would have a Shakespeare course and it might be my most difficult one, at least in my major area.

The friend with whom I confided my preference for college to high school mentioned it to our homeroom teacher, who exploded upon hearing it, telling me and the whole class what a fool I was to think as I did, and what a rude awakening was in store for me. Even Andy Rogalski, my mentor whose words I treasured, warned that college might be the hardest thing I'd ever encounter.

They were wrong. And I was right about Shakespeare. It was the English course in which I got my lowest grade in college, a C. Poetry, another requirement that I didn't much relate to, wasn't much better, but the teacher was less attentive and gave me a B. All of my other English and journalism classes were fun, as I expected. And so were others, though some were almost killers, though not more so than high school algebra, Latin, Spanish, and bookkeeping.

My favorite television show in high school was the Loretta Young Show, the theme of which was that few things in life are more important that liking our work. As a coalminer's son, that was a kind of gospel offering temporal salvation. After giving up my dreams of being the next Pat Boone, I discovered that journalism could be the means to that goal. I could enjoy it for the rest of my life. And the doors that opened gave me even more satisfying and enjoyable work than workaday reporting.

My point: are there ways you can make your work play? Second best: can you, or do you, find ways to play "at" work?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

The Irishman, Mexican & Redneck

An Irishman, a Mexican, and a Redneck were doing construction work scaffolding on the 20th floor of a building. They were eating lunch and the Irishman said; "Corned beef and cabbage. If I get corned beef and cabbage one more time for lunch, I'm going to jump off this building."

The Mexican opened his lunchox and exclaimed; "Burritos again. If I get burritos one more time I'm going to jump too." The Redneck opened his lunch and said; "Bologna again. If I get a bologna sandwich one more time, I'm jumping too."

The next Day the Irishman opens his lunch box, sees corned beef and cabbage and jumps to his death. The Mexican opens his lunch, sees a burrito, and jumps too. The Redneck opens his lunch, sees the bologna and jumps to his death also. At the funeral the Irishman's wife is weeping. "If I'd known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage, I would never have given it to him again." The Mexican's wife also wept and said, "I could have given him tacos or enchiladas. I didn't realize he hated burritos so much."

Everyone turned and stared at the Redneck's wife.... Hey, don't look at me," she said. "That dummy made his own lunch!"

Sent by Mike Harrison

Lenton thought: the judgment

Although I am imperfect in many things, I nevertheless wish that my brethren and kinsmen should know what sort of person I am, so that they may understand my heart's desire. I know well the testimony of my Lord, who in the Psalm declares: "Thou wilt destroy them that speak a lie." And again, He says: "The mouth that betrays, kills the soul." And the same Lord says in the Gospel: "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it on the day of judgment." And so I should dread exceedingly, with fear and trembling, this sentence on that day when no one will be able to escape or hide, but we all, without exception, shall have to give an account even of our smallest sins before the judgment of the Lord Christ.

St. Patrick, c. 385-461,, Confession,

Lenten thoughts (i.e., pertaining to repentance and spiritual growth, from any faith-community perspective) are solicited from readers.

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