Living and Dying – Conversations with Aunt Patty

This holiday season I had the opportunity to spend two days with my Aunt Patty. Over the years, I have enjoyed wide ranging conversations with Patty in regard to religion, spirituality, and the philosophy of the Catholic Church.

We begin our discussion on the way to StAugustine Church. She discussed “The golden thread” that she began observing early in her career. (@ :22min). Great to be with Patty in her element! Exploring the true meaning of Christmas!

Saturday morning we chatted for about an hour together. On Sunday, I attended mass with her – my first time. We also recorded our conversation while driving to and from church and in the driveway of our vacation rental. I wish I could have had more time with her. I find her views both substantive and fascinating. Close to 35 years she has been a board certified chaplain (BCC).

“Go into the patient’s room as a blank slate. Let them write the story. It orients the chaplain to being receptive and lets the patient direct the dialogue. The patient feels supported and empowered. It helps the patient to walk through the hard time.” (@33:00 min)

Patty noted, “In health care it is well recognized: the physical, mental and spiritual… During physical crisis there are a lot of things, a lot of questions, the spiritual journey within them. The chaplain is there to facilitate whatever the person might want to talk about or prayer that the patient might want.”

As we conversed, other thoughts crystallized.  I felt grateful that we have people such as she to bring hope and peace to both the dying (and living) during the final weeks and days of life.  She discussed “The golden thread” that she observed early in her career. This underscores using of “recollection of life” as a modality to build rapport for a chaplain. The power of listening.

I was encouraged by Patty’s experience with the dying. It moved me to say, “these are messages that the living need to hear! ” Her volunteer work at her retirement community emphasizes – exploring life and death in the seasons – fall, winter, spring and summer.

In regard to the thread, Patty said, “Any light in the darkness is usually God. It was like the thread of the Holy Spirit working within this person’s life.  That led them to the place in their life that they are now facing eternity – with whatever they had lived and whatever questions that were left. Where they needed to bring resolution so that they could die in peace. To die in peace means that your heart is right with God.”

“One of the things I appreciate in the teachings of the Catholic Church… God only judges us with what we do with the light of Christ that we are given. God loved us first. He wakes up His life within us… Anyone, who’s heart is oriented to Him, at whatever level of knowledge that is – God is there. He’s always there.  When a person starts engaging with that, there is a process of growth and maturity in Him that takes place throughout our life.” (@ 21:00 min.)

I enjoyed our visit to St. Augustine Church in Lincoln City. Practically, one of us needed to shuttle Aunt Patty to Mass. But, I wanted to explore and recognize that which inspires her. We sat, knelled, read, prayed and sang. She explained each of the proceedings. I would have been lost without her. It all went by rather quickly. Patty said, “Wherever you are – you begin. Frequently, it’s the experience of the heart that helps a person to say – there might be something different here.” Hope. Repent. Joy. Peace. These “four themes of each Sunday leading up to Christmas Day” were hung on the wall with banners.

“The Eucharistic celebration is “one single act of worship” but consists of different elements, which always include “the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son; the consecration of bread and wine, which signifies also our own transformation into the body of Christ; and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord’s body and blood” – Wikipedia

Jason Silva: Shots of Awe. “The Three Mexican Deaths”. The first death is the death of innocence, when you first learn that you are mortal and one day you will die. This awareness is a kind of death. The second death is the moment you actually pass away. The third death is the last time someone says your name.

I love how naturally the concepts flow during our conversation. It ignited my curiosity to explore other churches and their traditions. Where might I find a natural fit if I was compelled to attend service each week? More to come…

It might be slightly natural to find ourselves askew when scrutinizing those who find service in professions of a higher calling. How well do we understand the constructs and framework of these disciplines? I knew nothing of the principles by which the chaplain operates. I have only scratched the surface in my brief moments with Patty this weekend.

On and off again, I dabble in “The Perennial Philosophy”, “a comparative study of mysticism by the British writer and novelist Aldous Huxley. Its title derives from the theological tradition of perennial philosophy.” It’s one of my favorite books. It’s very much like an anthology interlinked with commentary by Huxley.

I realized over the weekend I’ve never really put Huxley’s book into context for myself. Two days earlier, a few paragraphs from “Mortification, Non-Attachment, Right Livelihood” had resonated with me in a profound way – I thought it would be useful to run some concepts over with my Aunt. Our conversation affirmed what I had been reading:  I should discern between a clever intellectualism of God vs. a life filled with service and presence of God. Talk the talk vs. walk the walk.  

Did you know? The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope.

Newport Skatepark – 2,000 Sq. Ft Addition

The new 2,000 sq foot addition to the City of Newport’s skatepark completed by Dreamland Skateparks was celebrated with a beautiful day, amazing riding, prizes, and food. The video in this post features  Spencer Nebel, City Manager and Danielle Scott owner of Dreamland. I am thankful for their comments about the collaboration to support the new build.  

This video was pretty textbook. I got lucky and grabbed Spencer as he was leaving the park. And, Danielle Scott was willing to provide some details. “Andy 360” must have tried the loop 15 times before he nailed it. Skaters work hard for their skills. Well earned Andy!

The video also illustrates the synergy and desirable outcome for our park on a given day. I do not know if there are numbers for how often it’s used. Prior to the expansion, my own experience has revealed that both locals and tourists use the park. Since the expansion, my conversations with the park’s frequent flyers have said that use is up considerably. The influx of visitors to cities like Newport may support the argument for such investments. We are a tourist community. Some families may simply choose a city that has such assets over those that do not. And, communities that have such assets may increase the stay length compared to communities that do not have a variety of recreational activities to choose from.

In retrospect, the unification of energy to pull off the addition exemplifies what’s desirable when dedicating public funds to such infrastructure. I have not inquired about numbers to the City or Dreamland. I should do that.  The data would be interesting to know.  My casual conversations lead me to believe that the new addition is the result of donations, corporate sponsorship of sorts from Rogue, City funding and some old-school fundraising.  There may have been grant money…

As a rider – both skating and biking – I can testify to using the park on a semi-regular basis. It’s one of my go to spots during lunch break. Google Maps says it’s .6 miles from my office cubicle.  As a sit/stand office worker I make it a point to move my body at lunch.  “Sitting is the new smoking.” Desk jockeys benefit from exercise more so than our cohorts who actually use their bodies for work.

My dude. I had dreams of producing a little skating prodigy. I imagined an early companion too soon, perhaps. Did I start him to early? It was worth giving it a shot. Funny how their peers are ultimately more influential. He’s with the program now. But, it’s not going to happen overnight. I admire his persistence. We bought a helmet too, btw.

To my surprise, the re-grand opening had a special turn of events for both me and my son. It Inspired him to begin skating. It was also an affirmation that building community infrastructure to support action sports such as skating has the benefit of encouraging new discoveries for athletes young and old.

On the way to the re grand opening I reminded Reed that our mission needed the inclusion of video documentation. On occasion, the documentary process gets a little tiresome for my handsome lad. I thought it fair to give him a disclaimer that I would be up to my usual antics.  I mentioned that there was going be food, beverage, possible prizes and likely a few of his friends. Reed assured me that “None of his friends will be there.” “How can you be certain?”, I asked. He couldn’t articulate and became frustrated at my additional inquiries. “Is it just a gut feeling?”, I asked. “Yeah, Dad.”

Within minutes of arrival Reed asked to go play with a friend. It turned out, that friend, an inexperienced skater, encouraged him to ride. They practiced and watched the other skaters during their blitzkrieg on the fresh concrete.  For the next two weeks, he asked that we ride, every day. Every day. I was so stoked! I had wrapped his little body in padding when he was 4 and he reluctantly gave it a shot. He never desired to ride again, however. I let it go. Not his thing, I thought. I ride a lot. But, over the years I’ve often carved out time to do that, without him. So, this was full circle for us.  My hope is that the joy I experience from this hobby and sport might be something we can continue to share.

Rogue has been a big supporter for both the Newport Skatepark and Dreamland Skateparks. They also produce a signature Dreamland Lager. Are we lucky or what?! Right the $#@$ on Rogue!

So, the question of weather or not there is justifiable ROI to the community, the non skateboarding community, is one that is in contention for some.  How we equitably determine which shared assets are worth our investment? Our skateboard park, our pool, our various other parks, our roads, police, emergency services and so on.  Not everyone agrees all of the time and such is politics, government and questions of subsidy.   

Again, I don’t have specific number for the Newport park 2,000 sq. ft addition. If and when I get this data – I’ll post the update here. Estimates by the Tony Hawk Foundation suggest the “National Average Skatepark Cost per square foot: $22.10” These numbers and actual use numbers would certainly facilitate improved evaluation for this investment and future investments In our communities.

The Argument for Skate Parks

Public Skatepark Development Guide
Resource for advocates and planners seeking information about public skateparks. If you’re working on a public skatepark project.

Lunch break. When I was growing up local concrete parks were not the norm. As a 49 year old it is taking some time as a skater and biker to learn to flow and get comfortable letting centrifugal force carry one through the transitions. Both exciting and/or scary depending on how you frame the experience.

Tony Hawk Foundation
The Tony Hawk Foundation fosters lasting improvements in society with an emphasis on supporting youth in low-income communities through skateboarding programs and the creation of skateparks.