Posted in COVID-19

A Place for Prayer

It’s a Sunday and I can’t go to Church. My week always starts with a fresh cooked breakfast at home and Sunday morning mass. I feel like a part of me is missing and I can’t fully quench my yearning for mass and the Eucharist in any other form. I know I can pray – I’ve been doing a lot of that. I know I can stream mass, but it’s just not the same. As a Catholic, I get the honor and privilege of receiving the body of Christ every single time I go to mass. And now, thanks to a pandemic that has turned our lives upside down, even Sunday mass is missing. Even Easter Sunday mass will be missing this year. (CT is going into lockdown tomorrow evening until at least April 22nd!)

Last night I sat looking up at the stars and night sky, saying the rosary and praying that the curve flattens. The calm peace and tranquility that I find in nature is the closest feeling I have to the fulfillment of attending mass on Sunday morning. So today, dreading the idea that I don’t know when I’ll be at mass next and not knowing when I’ll be able to take another trip, I visited a local state park. I went for a short hike and at the end, after doing my stretches, I found a big rock next to a brook to sit, and pray. I prayed for peace. Not world peace, but peace in everyone’s heart and mind. I prayed for the health of my family, friends and staff. That we remain healthy, not only that we avoid COVID-19 but for our mental health in this troubling time. I prayed for happiness. As we find our new normalcy, many people have to give up things that make them happiest and I hope that they can find something else to bring them that sense of happiness and joy.

What are you praying for in these troubling times?

Posted in society

The Great Outdoors and the Next Great Generation

“You can’t capture it in a picture, you have to be there to see it.” — Tobin Schafer, 12, of Ohio

No truer words have been spoken by the young boy at the end of a clip NBC’s Nightly News aired about the National Parks trying to attract more young people to come and visit them. While Schafer might be younger than Millennials, his sentiment is one that more Millennials need to share in order for our National Parks system to persevere and survive for our grandchildren, and their grandchildren. According to a University of Idaho analysis of Park Service attendance, “back in 1996, at Death Valley National Park, almost a third of visitors were in their 20s. But in the last few years, that number has dropped to just 11% at Yosemite and 6% at Yellowstone”.

The question is why? Perhaps it’s because Millennials and younger generations are addicted to technology (says the one who tried to ‘check-in’ on Foursquare when I reached the summit of Mt. Washington in the White Mountains). Perhaps it’s because beginning with our generations, kids spent more time indoors playing on the computer and with video games than we sent running around outdoors just enjoying the freedom of binging a kid. Perhaps it’s because we take for granted that they have always been there, and assume they always will be (you know what assume means — it makes an @$$ out of me and u…). The problem is no one has yet to figure out the reason why.

The NPCA, National Parks Conservation Association, urges its members of all ages to support the parks and to spread the importance of our parks. Many might take for granted that these parks are National Parks and assume that they will always be parks, but in today’s economy, the parks system faces budget cuts and drastic changes. According to an email from the NPCA President, Thomas C. Kiernan, to NPCA members, “Congress has slashed the National Park Service budget in the last two years — that’s an operations shortfall of $500 to $600 million! And funding is now 14% below where it was 10 years ago. Plus, President Obama’s proposed budget for next year would slash $22 million more from park operations.” A decrease in funding will lead to less staff at the parks to ensure the safety of visitors, less upkeep of the parks to ensure they are clean for new visitors and to protect the environment of the parks along with other cuts.

Funding is not the only issue facing the parks at the moment. Our government is taking actions that will effect the parks and the future visits of those who plan to visit them. Right now, the Manassas National Battlefield in Virginia is facing a highway to be built right in the middle of the battlefield. Who wants to visit a battlefield to see cars flying by? If I wanted to do that, I’d just go sit in a rest stop on I-95. And last month, the House Even passes a bill that could allow hunting in many of the parks. Who wants to go see a recreation at Gettysburg and fear that a hunt fight get caught up in the is and leave someone accidentally injured?

Some Millennials are out there protecting the environment, but is what we’ve done enough to ensure the National Parks stay for generations to come? Or decades from now, will we be viewed at the ones who allowed the parks to disappear? It’s time now for Millennials to decide what legacy we will leave our parks, and to act on it.