I had an interesting conversation yesterday with some associates on the topic of guns in Utah.

In our small group, I was a bit surprised to hear 2 of them admit to having a concealed weapon permit. But maybe I should not have been too surprised, for as I understand it in the State of Utah you can carry your concealed weapon onto school grounds. Guns are very popular here, and the “right to bear arms” is vigorously defended.

I listened as my associates described various scenarios that justify using lethal force, from protecting family to ensuring that you don’t get robbed. One associate, who I would have guessed would be afraid of guns, described having no qualms about putting buckshot in the ass of anyone who presented a threat.

After listening for awhile, I started to voice my concerns about the commonality of guns here, about carrying weapons and keeping them in the home.

I said, “What good is it to have a gun in the home to prevent robbery when surely you would keep it locked away so that your children are not harmed?” I was shocked to hear them, almost in unison, say that guns don’t need to be locked up as long as you teach your children from an early age how to respect guns and handle them. In fact, it is preferable not to lock them up so that they are always at the ready.

I said, “I think you guys are making a big mistake by ‘packing heat,’ because even if you seem to be justified in using a gun to protect yourself or whatever, you risk destroying someone’s life, risk experiencing lengthy courtroom participation, or risk civil suits and the like. No one was moved by these concerns.

As one associate was about to leave, I said, “There ain’t nothing I own, or will ever own, that is worth killing someone to protect it from being stolen.” He agreed.

Finally, in response to the argument that if criminals know you have a gun inside the house, they will pass your house and go to the next house, I said, “Well, you’re just pushing trouble onto your neighbor.” Silence.

On the drive home from work, as if on queue, I saw a large orange sign that said, Utah Gun Show – South Towne Expo Center. That happens to be the largest convention center here in Salt Lake City, a HUGE facility that is capable of holding dozens of RVs and camping trailers during the Camping Expo. I would imagine that there will be thousands of guns at the Gun Show.

A few miles later, I was driving behind a tow truck that had posted a message in large letters on the back windshield of the truck, it read, “Driver carries lots of cash … and plenty of ammunition.”

This morning, on the front page of there is a headline that reads, “Boy finds forgotten gun, shoots self in head.” No doubt his parents wish they had not kept THAT gun.

And I won’t even detail the tragedy in Mexico, which has some of the strictest guns laws in the world, but where border towns are becoming ghost towns because the drug lords have arsenals that they acquired in America.

I somehow think that we have moved beyond protecting country, and moved beyond protecting family, to protecting our stuff and our egos.


Not quite 2 months ago in my blog article entitled, “The Last Third,” I talked about the brevity of life. I suggested that it is sobering to think that at the age of 48, two-thirds of my life is already behind me … and only if statistics hold true and I live to be about 75 years old, the current average life expectancy for an American male.

But I also said, “God might have other plans for me and I will live only a few more moments.”

20 minutes ago I was informed that one of my best friends from high school, Jeff Fretti, passed away a couple of days ago. He had a heart attack while vacationing in Florida.


Just like that, Jeff passed into eternity. Alive.

I’m sad, and the tears are starting to pool in my eyes. It won’t be long before I have a good cry.

But I just have to post this blog before I mourn, because I urgently want myself to grasp the reality, and I urgently want you to grasp the reality, that we are going to die.

I am going to die. You are going to die. We are going to die … maybe sooner than we think we will.

Are we ready?

I am not going to put any condition on your life or mine. I am not going to say that we had better do this or that before we die, that we better believe this or that before we die, or else.

But I do want to say …

Love. Thank. Laugh. Create. Find. Touch. Forgive. Think. Accept. Feel. Bless. Give. Seek. Smile. Repent. Hug. Cultivate. Believe. Start. Kiss. Encourage. Strive. Worship. Ask. Hope. Behold.

Envy Can Be Your Friend

Do you consider envy a friend or foe? The choice is yours.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines envy as:

Painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. (

Envy is your foe when you let “painful or resentful awareness” paralyze you. Instead of making changes in your life, you decide to remain in the pain … sometimes for years, or even a lifetime.

Get clear on what you envy, on who you envy. What is it about others that you envy? Is it their appearance … finances … friends … job … connections … skills … health … attitude … family … privileges … freedoms, etc.

First get clear on who you envy, and on what it is about them that you envy … and then do what you can to change yourself to become the person you want to be.

Granted, there are some things you cannot change … and may God grant you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change. For example, I envy professional golfers. I just think it would be so cool to be able to hit a golf ball the way professional golfers do. But at age 48, I just don’t see that there is any way I will ever have enough time, money, or desire to make the sacrifices, and practice enough, to become a professional golfer. At this point in my life I would have to give up too much I enjoy to make it even worthwhile to seek that goal. Nonetheless, I still envy professional golfers.

However, there are some things about others that you envy which are within your reach, and if only you took action and changed your life you could put yourself on paths toward some of your innermost desires.

For example, I have always envied accomplished drummers. I held that envy for many years and did nothing about it. I would feel upset in my heart at my parents for never giving me drum lessons as a child, I would think to myself that if only they would have done that for me as a child it would have been so easy to learn the drums. Finally, at the age of 37 I decided to let that envy be my friend and motivate me to do something about it, and I asked the drummer in our church band if ever considered giving drum lessons. Well, as it turns out, that is how he made a living. Next thing I know I am buying drum sticks, and I started drumming lessons the next week. The end result is that I discovered that extensive drum practicing was causing an old injury “tennis elbow” to emerge, and that I could keep drumming if I also maintained regular physical therapy. Ultimately, though I enjoyed my time drumming, I decided not to continue so that I could give my elbow a rest and pursue other goals.

Another example from my life is that I have always envied people who are bilingual. For many, many years I have watched people move effortlessly between two languages, and regretted the fact that I did not stick with the language study I began in high school. And for many, many years I would tell myself that I am too old to learn another language now. I just assumed that I would hold this envy for the rest of my life.

Until a few months ago. It became clear to me that I could be envious of bilingual people for the rest of my life, or I can let that envy motivate me to make a change in my life. So at the age 48, I began Beginner Spanish Class through the local adult education system. I have bought at least 3 books on learning Spanish, I bought flash cards to learn Spanish vocabulary, I bought a computer program to help me learn (which I am faithfully using), and I am already committed to finding a private tutor as soon as I reach a certain level of competency.

I don’t care that I might not reach Spanish fluency until I am in my 50’s … Lord willing, I will be that same age in a few years if I don’t study Spanish.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being envious of the bilingual, and so I am going to do what I can now to overcome this envy and move down a path where I believe I will find a blessing.

The Kingdom Within Us

God is sovereign,
Over the whole earth and the heavens above,
And we yield to His will in the Kingdom within us.

God is just,
He is always fair and can always be trusted,
We stake our lives on the justice of God in the Kingdom within us.

God is everywhere,
There is nowhere to hide from His presence,
We want God to rule in the Kingdom within us.

God is wise,
The fullness of the riches of all wisdom,
Is available to us in the Kingdom within us.

God is generous,
He seeks to give, to share, to bless, to sacrifice for us,
We believe that God always wants what is best for us in the Kingdom within us.

God is all-knowing,
He knows everything that can be known,
We know … that we know … that God knows us in the Kingdom within us.

God is true,
He is the Spirit of grace and truth,
And He holds each of us accountable for what is true in the Kingdom within us.

God is merciful,
When we are feeling low and unlovable,
God is seeking to forgive us in the Kingdom within us.

God is powerful,
There is no end to His power and might,
Beyond anything we thought possible in the Kingdom within us.

God is love,
The love of God is for us, in us, and through us,
The Kingdom of God is in our hearts, in the Kingdom within us.

Abbey of the Holy Trinity Day 2 and 3

We awoke at 3:00 A.M. so that we would have enough time to make the nearly mile walk to the Abbey for 3:30 A.M. Vigils. This service is my least favorite of all the services, and not because it is held in the middle of the night (or at the start of the day for the monks), but because the tone and language of Vigils seems dark and foreboding to me, as if enemies could strike at any moment. I suppose that the language for this service was crafted hundreds of years ago when monks were actively persecuted for living by faith, and the same language is used today.

Saturday was a pretty restful day, in between services I mostly napped. My bride and I enjoyed dinner together that night, and ended our day by attending Compline services.

Sunday morning I was a very bad boy. I walked to the Retreat Center for breakfast where I ate bacon and eggs. It is a very rare occasion for me to have bacon and eggs, and not because I don’t like the taste. We pretty much eliminated that meal from my options several years ago when I discovered I have high cholesterol, which totaled 303 when tested recently. After trying for years (unsuccessfully) to lower my cholesterol through vitamin therapy, I finally gave in and started taking Vytorin about a year ago. That lowered my overall cholesterol count to 180, but my prescription ran out about 4 months ago and my cholesterol shot back up. Now I am on Lipitor. Anyways, after I ate my bacon and eggs (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I noticed that one of the other male Retreatants was eating Raisin Bran cereal. I told him how impressed I was to see him eating healthy cereal in light of the unhealthy breakfast I had just eaten. He commented that his cholesterol level is over 400, and his physician is threatening to prepare a bed for his imminent arrival at the hospital.

In any case, I survived the breakfast and met Sheri at 8:00 A.M. for morning Mass. After we purchased several items in the gift store, we packed up for the ride back to Salt Lake City.

Before we had left to go on retreat, we were both very much into March Madness and watching lots of basketball on TV. But by Sunday afternoon on our way home, March Madness did not seem as important to us.

We are grateful for our time at the Abbey of the Holy Trinity, and plan to return at least once each year for as long as we live in Utah. Thanks, God, for these men who devote themselves to you and to humankind.