Showing posts from April, 2006


Some of you may know that I have often dreamt of having a tattoo. Yeah, it sounds kind of crazy but there's something about it that really appeals to me. I doubt that I would ever do it but, if I did, this is the design that I'd want on my right arm (on the tricep).

I always joked that once I had muscles I would get a tattoo. Well, I'm well on my way to having fairly well-defined arms but, now that I am in the position to "get inked" I hesitate. Maybe I'll get a bunch of removable AMDG tattoos (like kids have) and wear them when I want to show of "my guns"!
You know, I thought Hurricane Katrina was terrible. But on my visit to Denver this last weekend, I encountered a more terrible disaster: a giant blue bear attacking a convention center.


After a fun-filled weekend with Anne Hall in Denver, I've returned to the quotidian stylings of a hospital chaplain.

I'm so sad that I've less than two weeks left here in Chicago! This has been such a wonderful ministry and I'll miss my Jesuit community, my hospital family, and my patients. There's no such thing as a "normal day" and it is the unpredictability that I find so exciting about this type of ministry.

There's really not much else to report. I'll try to watch the last hour of God or the Girl to see what type of resolutions the three remaining men made during the course of filming.

So that's about it. Things are pretty dull in Ryan world. Special thanks to John Cunniffe who sent me a Jesus Action Figure with Glow-in-the-dark hands. I'm very excited by this gift and it already occupies a place on my bookshelf and it will, no doubt, migrate with me back to Detroit.

God or the Girl

By this point, many of you have seen the A&E produced series God or the Girl. I've managed to watch all four of the as-yet aired episodes and I plan on taping the fifth installment on Sunday so that, when I return from Denver, I'll have something to watch after dinner on Monday night.

The response to the show has been very interesting. In one ear, I've been attentive to the criticism heaped upon it, most especially by other Jesuits. "It's too much about sex!" [meaning the centrality of choice of being celibate/priest or married] "Where's the spiritual director?" "What about the psychological exam?" These questions are born, to be sure, of our own arduous experience of applying to the Society and the many steps we had to take in order to begin even the application process.

It is true that the centrality of the dichotomy between God and Girl takes center stage. I'm un-impressed with the two American priests and, were I to have bee…

As Morning Breaks

There's a line from the "Liturgy of the Hours" that has always impressed me:

"In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine
on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace."

This will be my last post-overnight shift reflection. There have been some overnights that I ached to see the sun rise. Sometimes it felt as though all I could do was to just "hang on" and hope that morning's light would set aright all that was in chaos.

Last night, however, was not such an evening. I fell asleep in a confessional at 11:00 pm (since our office is being renovated, there's only one on-call room which I ceded to the other chaplain) and woke up at 5:45 am. This never happens! No traumas, no deaths, no emergencies. I'm now eating porridge and drinking coffee, writing this, and watching as the sun slowly creeps above the horizon.

In a way, I suspect my overnight expe…

Easter Candy

Just another quick update:

I was preparing to go upstairs to make some phone calls when a pleasant representative of the United States Postal Services rang the doorbell. In his hands a box with MY NAME ON IT! My mother remembered me and sent me Easter chocolates from Malley's.

Thank Mom!

Good Friday

One of the problems of moving into a new house is that, invariably, something small and insignificant will go wrong with some new feature of the house. Last night, for instance, the third-floor cooling system refused to work and, at 2:00 am, the thermostat registered that my room stood at a balmy 90-degrees. Since I didn't sleep terribly well, I took a long two-mile walk up to Enstein's Bagels and read the paper and had my coffee. I think I'll settle in and watch "The Passion of the Christ" before heading off to a Taize prayer service at 3:00.

I bring up my walk because along the way I mailed my application to take vows as a member of the Society of Jesus. In fact, I probably passed by six or seven mailboxes as I walked but, each time, I couldn't bring myself to mail the letter. This isn't a sign of horrible doubt or fear...just the realization that I held a letter stating my desire to be a vowed religious.

I would like to share the closing paragraph of m…

New Recipe

I just posted my new recipe on

I give Giada credit for its basic recipe, but combining it with vanilla ice cream, honey and chocolate is my own contribution!

Free Weekend

This is my free weekend...the last of the experiment. Next week I work the overnight on Holy Saturday and the following week I shall reunite with my beloved Anne Hall. The following week is the Open House for our new community and, the week after that, I head back to sunny Detroit.

So, since this is my last "obligation free" weekend, it stands to reason that I feel lousy. I managed to dodge the cold that wound its way through our house two months ago and I thought I'd dodged the flu bullet, but I'm not so sure now. I've had a headache for two days and I'm just not feeling too great. I'm hoping to get a good night of sleep and feel better in the morning - Drew, Mike, and Eric are in from Detroit and I'd like to spend the day with them.

I want, before I go to bed, to offer an image that I use when I pray for patients. Sometimes in the silence I find myself imagining myself standing in an ocean of darkness, an ebony night that wraps around me. I hold in m…

Friday's Overnight

I wanted to post at several points during my shift on Friday, but there never was a proper window of time allowing me to do so. Indeed, although I was not wholly occupied with immediate patient needs, I had to be at the ready to spend time with a family whose 1-day old son was/is desperately ill.

There is a great irony in that I wrote how my stance when being present to one mired in suffering strives to be a stance of empathic listening. As the night crawled forward, I heard the plaintive cries of a mother shouting into the whirlwind of suffering and doubt, "Why? Why my baby? WHY? WHY? WHY?" Every fiber of my being strained to find an answer to why her full-term baby languished, his body wracked by a bacterial infection that ravaged his lungs. I wanted nothing more to comfort this young mother, to encourage the young resident who called upon all her skills to regulate the baby's blood pressure and increased the level of oxygen in his blood. I wanted so say something, to …