Reading and the Encouragement Of a Friend When Needed

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

This is going to a weird post. It is mixed with various emotions, feelings of failure, abandonment, physical disability, frustration with a system, and yet another loss of a friend. It is also a reflection on my love of history and wisdom from the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the midst of a crisis that threatened the fate of the entire country and its citizens. In his first inaugural address he noted: “Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

It has been a hard few days, and for that matter the last decade or so and I am exhausted. I didn’t post anything for two days because I was too tired, so I finished reading Doris Kearns Godwin’s book Leadership In Turbulent Times. I am glad that I did because I have become quite discouraged about all the things wrong with my knees, hips, ankles and other medical problems; weight gain from being unable to do what I like doing (walking and running); and frustration with the delays in care I experience with Navy Medicine. I am physically broken as well as spiritually and emotionally depleted. I feel crippled.

The book deals with the lives, points of crisis, and leadership of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. It is worth the read, for all experienced failure and when in office had to deal with issues that threatened the Nation itself.

I am struggling at the end of my military career of almost 38 years. I was beginning to have quite the pity party. Not to say that I am not struggling, I have been feeling like a failure of late, crippled and useless; but Goodwin’s depiction of Franklin Roosevelt’s continual battle with Polio and the way that he kept a positive outlook and encouraged others, in such a manner that what would have kept others from any kind of success. The key to his success was investing in others and making a connection with people no-matter where he served.

Late last night I got a personal message form one of my sailors, at the time a young enlisted man expressing his care for me and Judy. It ended up in a conversation and it made me think about what Roosevelt did with others. I expressed my real gratitude to him, he has a good heart, and cares for for people, probably better than I do, and I told him that. His care for me made caused me to reflect, I have felt like a cast off from the Chaplain Corps for years, yet here was a young man remembering me from service together that began in 2001, and he took the time to encourage me when I was down. That’s the way Franklin Roosevelt dealt with people.

I began to think about my my knees and having to use a cane to keep me stable on my feet. I figure if Roosevelt could find ways to succeed and not let himself slip into self-pity, then maybe I can too, no matter what goes on with my knees. My young friend reminded me of that. He also reminded me that care for people was why I am here.

Likewise, yesterday I was down about the death of my friend Father Jim Parke. Father Jim was the kind of man who never knew a stranger and for the last 16 years of our lives he has been there for us in times of difficulty and joy.

To my friend Marc, thank you. You made my day last night, and Father Jim, my friend thank you for years of friendship, and Rest In Peace.

Until tomorrow,


Padre Steve+


Filed under faith, History, life, Loose thoughts and musings

4 responses to “Reading and the Encouragement Of a Friend When Needed

  1. Padre, I pray for you and your health. Keep smiling and “play ball!” Rob

  2. David W. Harris

    Hello Padre, I think I have some small understanding of what you are experiencing. I retired three days before my 59 th birthday and immediately brought my family to America for another wonderful holiday and looked forward in hope of ten happy and active years before I started to decline. Well it has not worked out as planned. Untreated pneumonia and ligament and tendon problems with my legs etc made walking painfull for years.Now as I approach my 68th birthday the problems have receded and my youngest son will be 26 soon and his M.E. Is responding to treatment so I am becoming more cheerful and hopeful…you must know that life is like waves in the sea, peaks and troughs, You will rise out of the trough and life will improve for you. Retirement is a strange condition of for those of us who have served in a disciplined occupation and the transition is often disorientating but time eases most conditions often in ways we did not expect. Be cheerful be brave and as my grandmother would say ‘ remember the trials of Job and your worries won’t matter’.

  3. Steven

    Hey Padre,

    I was wounded four “official” times (some wounds get lumped together). I lost full use of my dominant arm, one knee, took a moderate TBI, blah, blah, blah. Here, at the end of things, I sometimes share your feelings of frustration and—to use my word—bitterness.

    And yet, I found you, on the internet, through a post about the end of one era and the beginning of another. I look forward to your articles and writings, and I find them interesting and thoughtful and though-provoking.

    I don’t really believe the way you do, but then…I believe faith isn’t really about dogma, or even really about the technicalities—let us say structural underpinnings—of belief. I believe that we are more than that which decays. And so long as we bring Light into the life of others when and as we can, then we have honoured the Light that lit our way. In the darkest times of my life, I can still see where that Light shone, how the Candle in the window of another’s House brought me Home.

    Keep on walking, Padre, until you’re done.

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