Thursday, December 28, 2017

In All Things, Finding God

A fellow teacher and coach posted a holiday goal to guide our beloved two-week Christmas break: read three books. They say when you change an ingredient in a recipe, it becomes your own, right? With that philosophy in mind, her S.M.A.R.T. goal became mine when I decided I wanted to read three books, two of which I have already started. My nightstand is filled with these perpetraitors...each one has a bookmark ten, twenty or a hundred pages in. If convicted of starting and not finishing books, I'm guilty. However, I'm happy to report progress toward attaining my goal is underway. #FeelsGood
  1. "The Mistletoe Inn" by Richard Paul Evans was a fun and fast read. The fact that this book was made into a Hallmark Channel holiday film, was no surprise whatsoever. Love it. Furthermore, I was reminded that there's no harm in reading for pleasure. Starting and FINISHING a Christmas romance has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. Enjoy! 
  2. I started Richard Ben Kramer's decisive and exhaustive biography on Joe DiMaggio: "The Hero's Life"  ten years ago. No, I'm not joking. The Yankee Clipper was raised in San Francisco and lived a storied life in New York. His love and affection for Marilyn Monroe characterize a good percentage of the book's 525 pages.
  3. This summer while traveling in Israel, I began to read Chaim Potok's "The Chosen." Set in Brooklyn in 1944, "The Chosen" is a story—a coming of age and of friendship—between two young Jews. One is from a conservative family and the other's is more liberal, or by today's standards, Reform. 
Their views on faith, tradition, and family also reveal the spirituality of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Ba'al Shem Tov, who gave birth to Hasidism.  
He taught them that the purpose of man is to make his life holy—every aspect of his life: eating, drinking, praying, sleeping. God is everywhere, he told them, and if it seems at times that He is hidden from us, it is only because we have not yet learned to seek Him correctly.
This spirituality resonates with Ignatian Spirituality. Ignatius of Loyola preached of "Finding God in all things." This principle underscores the curriculum for Sports and Spirituality. 

We believe God can be found in all things, the question is in all things can we find God? As a coach and a teacher, I wonder—Have I equipped my students and my athletes with the eyes to see? Do I point the way? Surely if they seek, they will find.

My seniors' final project, asks my students this very question. Here are their answers. Their images of where they have found God in the sports that they play. Now that I have graded all of their work, I hope to get back to reading....
“I feel the presence of God with and through the presence of my teammates.”
-Natalie Doyle, “Finding God on the Volleyball Court

“The displays of love in sports, by athletes, coaches, parents, and even spectators speak of yet another spiritual dimension present in athletics and thus challenges those who experience love-which is to say Christ-to act in certain ways correlative to proper morality.”
—Anthony M.J. Maranise, OSB

Awards become corroded. Friends gather no dust.
—Jim Yergovich

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
 —Hebrews 12:11-12

Faith isn’t something we do, it is who we are.
—Dr. Lucy Russell

“Athletes exercise self-control in every way;
they do so in order to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.”
1 Cor 9:24-25

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I'd Rather Be Lucky AND Good

The New York Yankee, Lefty Gomez once remarked "I'd rather be lucky than good." His words became a popular adage I think about quite often. Would you rather be lucky? or good? I hate to disagree with the five-time World Series champion, but I'd rather be good. And, I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority with this choice. Why? Luck is just so appealing. Good luck makes everything look and feel easy—it's nice to have your shots fall, your putt go both up and in, and with lady luck the numbers, cards and stars align. A lucky person wins the lottery and the lotto. They never walk away from a raffle empty handed, their flights are always on time, their drinks are comped and the upgrade is perennially underway. 

Frank Sinatra once sand "Luck be a lady, tonight!" If luck is so lovely, why choose the good? I choose the good because of what my mom has always told me: "you make your luck." I love her charge. Her wise words imply that if you work hard and do what's right, things will fall into place. Luck may have something to do with winning, but really, a team does what it takes to make the W happen. Hard work, perseverance commitment, leadership, teamwork—those attributes have nothing to do with luck. They do, however, have everything to do with what makes championships possible. 

But something happened this past semester that has led me to consider a third way—a hybrid option, if you will. Is it possible to choose not just luck or goodness—but both? I ask because that is the only way I can describe my good fortune when I inherited a group of 26 students in this year's Sports and Spirituality class. 
This group consisted of three football players, two baseball and one softball player, a sailor, a rower, and one robotics champion. I had a golfer, a gymnast and a water polo captain. There were three lacrosse players, ardent sports fans and a Kobe aficionado. I always appreciate having a tennis player and Notre Dame fans in there—I had both. This group had both male and female basketball players, a dancer, track athlete, volleyball star and the only female who has played on the SI football team to date. They were faith-filled and fun. They listened and laughed not at one another (ok they did that too) but more often they laughed with each other. We debated the decision of NFL players to stand, sit or kneel during the National Anthem, not once, but many times. Some of my favorite lessons from them were
I've worked hard to make Sports and Spirituality into the class it is today. An elective course since 2010, no single semester is exactly the same because the wide world of sports is ever changing. I have taught this course during World Series and NBA championships. Our local team has made a run for the Super Bowl and our school to keep the Bruce Mahoney trophy. But it's never just the content—the articles, the videos, the Sports in the News that makes the curriculum what it is....without a doubt, it's the students themselves. Their hearts and their minds, their experiences and stories, their loyalties, passions and their prayers  make it memorable. I've had good classes before and I've had challenging ones too. I do not take for granted who comes into the classroom each day. This year, I had not good students—I had great ones. I'd say that for my luck too.

My next posting will feature the annual classic: images of Sports and Spirituality, taken from the students themselves.  Thank you class of 2018—I miss you already! 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Will Clark: The Thrill is Never Gone

It's not uncommon for Christmas to come early. For some folks, the joy of Christmas arrives in a new job, the birth of a child, deployment, a healthy diagnosis and so on. For me, Christmas came on Friday, December 8 at the downtown business lunch hosted by Archbishop Riordan High School. The gift was the opportunity to meet and hear a talk given by my favorite ballplayer and male athlete of all time: William Nuschler Clark, Jr. known to most San Francisco Giants fans at Will "The Thrill."

The 1986 Sports Illustrated cover story "Double Trouble," featuring Mark McGwire and Will Clark reported the difference these two first baseman brought to Bay Area baseball. I'll never forget reading some of the color commentary about his impact. For example, rather than a rote message "Hi, this is Will. I'm not here right now. Please leave a message" it played the B.B. King song "The Thrill is Gone." This lunch hour affirmed what Giants' fan have always known—the Thrill is never gone.
The number of fans who wear #22 at every Giants game is remarkable.
Will Clark played first base for the Giants from 1986 to 1993. During his tenure, the New Orleans native helped a struggling squad with(100 losses in 1985 turn things around. In just two years time, the Giants won the NL West eventually make a run for what was known as the "Bay Bridge Series" in 1989 (by way of winning the NL Championship Series). His contract with the Giants expired in 1993 and he left us for the Texas Rangers. No Humm Baby.....Bum Baby.

A friend said she was surprised I had not met the six-time All Star before. On one hand, I agree. Given my loyalty to the orange and black and the legacy of this leftie, perhaps it shouldn't have taken 30 years of fandom to connect. However, in the past, I wasn't so sure I actually wanted to meet him. Sometimes, it's easier to keep our heroes and our favorite athletes, musicians or artists at arm's length. Often, their public persona doesn't match up with a personal encounter. Other times, we might not know what to say. I know these folks put their pants on just like everyone else, one leg at a time, and yet the reason we even know who they are is because of what they do. And in the case of Will Clark, it's not just what he did, but how he did it.
given the nickname "The Natural" because of this beautiful left-handed swing. #art
Will Clark played with a remarkable intensity that was as sharp as his vision (I once read he had 20 x 12 eyesight—a necessary good for a baseball player!). With "The Thrill" in the line-up, one would ever question who was the hardest working man on the team. He shared that he took about 200 swings before each game. "Nothing supplants hard work," he said. "Today's players only take about 20-30 swings before the game." Hearing his words reminded me that Clark was going to talk the talk; he could. This crowd knows exactly how he walked, and much to our delight, his accomplishments were captured in  highlight reel to kickstart the event.

Set to AC/DC's "TNT" the collective audience watched some of my favorite baseball memories and Will's best: his first hit as a Giant—a home run off of Nolan Ryan in that vapid ballpark: the Astrodome, the grand slam off of Greg Maddux in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs in Chicago, the two-run single against Mitch "Wild Thing Williams" in Candlestick to break the 1-1 tie in the game/secure the series and the slide into second base in St. Louis launching an epic baseball fight that cleared both benches. These feats and more brought AC/DC's lyrics to life: 
Cause I'm T.N.T., I'm dynamite
(T.N.T.) and I'll win the fight
(T.N.T.) I'm a power load
(T.N.T.) watch me explode
Oh, hell yeah.
And as much as these highlights had me sitting on the edge of my seat in near rapture, I looked at Will Clark and wondered who was enjoying this more. When the video came to a close with a 23- year old Will Clark celebrating the 1987 NL West title, he turned to the audience and shouted "Are you fired up? Because I'm so fired up right now!" The cheering. clapping and whistling was so enthusiastic, one might wonder if they were at AT&T Park in October.

Will's address to this crowd was one part advice to today's baseball players, two parts storytelling, and all parts unabashedly, uncompromisingly Will. Once called "Will the Shrill" before he had his tonsils removed, Will talked fast, his words were gracious and yet politically unapologetic. When he said "my world is very black and white." ever last part of me thought "we know, Will. We always have." In a city like San Francisco that claims to be liberal and tolerant but often times falls short, his words were actually a welcome respite. Clark has only ever been who he is—and that's why this city loved him so. We still do.
Will, as he always was...always will be.
His message?
1. "Common sense is a lost art. If something is telling you don't do it. DON'T DO IT." Clark returned to this point when he told the story of Kevin Mitchell making a one-handed catch—with his bare hand—against the fence in left field at Busch Stadium. "Common sense says you have a glove in your hand for a reason." Good one, Will. Great one, Boogie Bear (Kevin Mitchell's nickname).
2. Trust your gut. So many times, my gut would tell me he's going to throw a slider. I'd talk myself out of it and guess what? He threw a slider. This is true in life, like common sense, listen to that inner-voice.
3. Family is first. Will Clark retired from MLB in 2000 to spend more time with his wife Lisa and their two children. His son, Trey (Will Clark, III) has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), a diagnosis which puts him on the autism spectrum. Will left the game after helping the St. Louis Cardinals in their play-off run, leaving the game with an impressive .650 post-season batting average. #baller.
4. Respect. Will said "it is so important to respect your elders. Where I come from it's yes sir, or no ma'am. I was taught that you respect the military and law enforcement." He praised two of the games greatest, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. Clark said, "being around these greats and listening to what they said about hitting advanced my game. Pure and simple. They had more influence on me than anyone will ever know."
Prior to this event, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to ask Will. I decided that I would build rapport by telling him that I lived in Napoleonville, LA. He immediately turned about and said "what were you doing down in Napoelonville?!" I knew this would get a reaction—it always does. Napoleonville's notoriety must be in name only, because this itty-bitty bayou town is home to but all of 2,000 people. They too are great outdoorsmen like the Thrill. It's the Louisiana way.

As a teacher at another Jesuit high school I asked him about his experience at Jesuit High in New Orleans. I even snuck in a reference to Endymion, my favorite Mardi Gras parade that passes in front of his alma mater. And, more importantly I wanted to know why HE thought San Francisco loved him in the way we do.

My friend Matt, a San Francisco native couldn't believe Will Clark was my favorite male athlete of all time. "How is it not Joe Montana?" Great question, Mateo. Montana, the "Comeback Kid" did great things at Notre Dame and for the San Francisco 49ers. Guiding the Irish to  the 1977 National Championship and the Niners to four Super Bowl titles, one would think "Joe Cool" is number one for those reasons alone. But that nickname says it all. Under pressure, #16 was calm, cool and collected. He had to be. But what I've always loved about #22 is the fire, intensity and passion that he brought day in and day out to Candlestick. to MLB and to Riordan's downtown business lunch.

Christmas involves a lot of talk about presents—making our list and checking it twice. We join in the relentless pursuit for that "perfect gift" or maybe this year you've limited your shopping to four of them (see the Four Gift Christmas Challenge). And yet, quite often the best present is a person's presence. In theory, we proclaim this as true, until you really do get that magical gift. However, my first formal chance to talk t0 and be with Will "The Thrill" left me thinking, other than a Clark 22 jersey, I really don't need a single thing with my name on it under the tree. Thank you Sea and John for making this happen. Thank you ARHS!
Those were great years, Will and unforgettable memories. Thank you. In the giving, we received. Merry Christmas....thanks for playing ball.

Photo Credits
Hall of Fame ballot
Getty Images

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Jimmy G: A Triple Threat

So long as the legend looms long, let's run with a lesson to be learned from the San Francisco Forty Niners' new quarterback: James Richard Garoppolo, aka "Jimmy G." Since the front office of the Niners orchestrated what Forty Niner Faithful are starting to believe might be the greatest trade in the NFL's recent troubled history, tall tales of Jimmy G, like his stock are on the rise. My favorite of the many is from a former teammate who told him "Ah c'mon man, don't even talk to her. You'll break her heart." When I heard this story, I thought to myself: he's a triple threat.
Take one look at the 6'2" quarterback and you might understand why his teammate said what he did and/or where the cliche "tall, dark and handsome" originated. Jimmy G is talented. Since joining the Forty Niners, this team has two of its threw wins of the season. In his first drive as the Niner QB, he threw 1o yards for a touchdown. He's calm, cool and collected in the pocket and a natural leader. He is kind and friendly; he smiles a lot. He looks like much more than the face of a team, he has a face that both men and women can recognize as handsome. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but with Jimmy G, all beholders can reach consensus easily. I thought about these qualities of Jimmy: talented, handsome and kind. Such attributes are earned and unearned, some given others are cultivated. My Sports and Spirituality mind immediately declared a triple threat.

In basketball, a player who can dribble, pass and shoot is known as a triple threat. In football, a triple-threat man is a player who excels at running, passing and kicking. Most sports have their own variation. This idea has caused me to consider what that means in golf  (driving, chipping and putting) and what a triple threat my look like everyone's line of work. A triple threat in teaching might include speaking, questioning and assessing. Coaching might not be all that different. Leading, inspiring and executing? Motivating, teaching and facilitating? Discuss...
But the example of the triple threat I see in Jimmy G is much more holistic. His three outstanding qualities reflect a little more than who he is as a professional athlete. I do not want to divorce that component of his identity from who he is; it is not to be undermined. I also want to recognize a quality like "good looking" isn't something he has had to work at; I call that raw material. Whereas he has developed his talent, or a basketball player works hard to become a good shooter or ball handler, some of our gifts are just that: gifts. Recognize and enjoy! 

Bottom line: the triple threat need not be sport specific. I invite you—the reader—to consider: What three talents or gifts do you have? How might these skills work together for the good? What do they offer your family...your community...your workplace...the world? Name them. Share them. Offer them to your corner of the world. I hope they are met with the same enthusiasm we have around here in San Francisco for our starting quarterback. I'd be more than happy to talk to him...

Photo Credits
TD Jimmy
Press Conference

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What's Your Favorite TED Talk? Here's One on Tenderness

I'm no statistician but my guess is a good number of people could name their favorite TED talk. Can you? In the same way that we recognize and share our favorite movie, book, song or artist, TED is that prolific and integrated into our lives that it might be more likely to discuss a favorite TED talk than book or literary journal. My favorite "Can Football Change the World" was recommended to me by a friend who is both a fellow teacher and coach. If something's good, pass it on! (in spite of my last blog posting, this act of love need not be limited to printed material).
A good TED talk can be a game changer in the classroom. I wouldn't say that TED: the media organization that post online talks under the slogan "ideas worth spreading" have revolutionized how I teach or what I teach, but a good TED speaker with a salient message can do much more than frame a lesson plan. Notable TED Talks can capture and synthesize principles, ideas and questions in a five, fifteen to twenty minute package. 

The stories, the speakers, their research, experiences, humor and  take-aways come from around the globe, and now—the Vatican. I should not have been surprised when I read that Pope Francis gave his own TED talk earlier this year at the organization's annual conference in Vancouver.

One could argue the Holy Father gives TED talks—ideas worth sharing—on a daily basis. However, his on-going effort to reach the faithful through digital mediums is more than noteworthy, it is necessary. Not all of us can go to Rome and visit St. Peter's Square—wouldn't that be nice?! Pope Francis has deepened what he calls a "culture of encounter" through social media; I read his Tweets regularly. His words offer snippets of hope and reminders of our obligations as Christians. I have been able to learn more about the people and places he visits through video diaries and news reports. And I consider his TED Talk "Why the only future worth building includes everyone" a stalwart message for Advent.
Tenderness, the Holy Father suggested, "is love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need."

Listening to his message, I am reminded that "Tenderness" is much more than an '80s hit by Big Country. Tenderness is an act of love that ought to color how we approach this season of waiting for the birth of Our Lord. If only I used my eyes, ears and hands tenderly, and not hastily, then I might be prepared to receive the true gift of Christmas—the Nativity—with true joy.

I trust Pope Francis' message and his call, because as we have seen through social media it resonates with this actions. Though this  "culture of encounter" extends across the digital sphere, it  is most profound in his person to person contact. The good news is that social media allows us to witness and learn more about the people in the places he meets. The last two blog postings have offered insight into the story of Vinico Riva, an Italian man who was touched ever so tenderly by Pope Francis. The image of this tender encounter caught the attention of the Catholic—universal—Church. I have wanted to conclude this series with HIS story since the first posting. I believe it is the ideal way to conclude this series—let the story speak for itself.
It's screams of a "Love that comes close and becomes real." It's beauty resides in its sympathy. Two men, one embrace. The struggle of one is evident and the outreach from the other is so tender. Happy Advent. Thank you Holy Father

Photo Credits
Ted Talk

Vinicio Riva

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Something to Read: A Recipe for Nourishing Friendship

A wonderful part of my job is that I spend my days, not just with students, but with men and women who are much more than just colleagues. These fellow teachers, coaches, and counselors are people I call my friends. However, the demands of our jobs and the differences in our schedules mean I can be at school (which is big) for weeks on end without talking to them. When I do see them, one party or the other is in a rush. Our conversations are brief. I hate it. However, there are moments every so often that descend upon us, like manna from the heaven, that nourish this friendship. We are able to talk for five, maybe even ten minutes, and again, we are both fed in the way that only friendship can do. 

Last week, my colleague and I found that rare gift of time and as we were about to depart, I said, "I still want to talk to you about that article you gave me this summer, written by Sherman Alexie." He said, "Oh yeah, "Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest" from The New Yorker?" "Yes," I replied.  "I have but one take away. Can I share?" Five minutes became ten and ten could have easily become twenty.

I meant it when I wrote in my last blog posting "Two Recommendations in the Four Gifts Christmas Challenge: Sports and Spirituality Style" that I think there was a fourth Mage (singular for Magi, which is plural...who knew?!). I am convinced that wise man got waylaid somewhere near Bethlehem. Perhaps he too ran into a friend. I imagine that his compadre took notice of what this wise man was bringing Jesus. A book! Ah! Something to read!" Is it for the child? For His parents? Mary and Joseph probably needed the wisdom more than their Son.

I have stopped to discuss podcasts, episodes of Fresh Air and movies with friends. Reading print media, however, is different. Holding a book, ripping an article out of a magazine, folding a journal—the material reality of ideas written and printed lends itself to giving. It should. And so, in a continued effort to promote the "Four Christmas Gift Challenge" and the book I recommended: "Raising Kids with a Healthy Body Image: A Guide for Catholic Parents. I would like to share my favorite excerpt from this wonderful resource. 

The following reflection, given with permission by the author John Acquaviva, is from the chapter, "The Truth that Heals: Wise words from scripture, saints, and scholars." His message resonated with me and my experience as an athlete. I kept reading only to discover an explanation for a picture I had seen, divorced from the who, the why and the how. This chapter introduced me to Vinicio Riva. 

Every semester, I encounter one, two or five stories that capture my mind and heart. Mr. Riva was the primary subject of my favorite one from this Fall and as much as I want to write about meeting my favorite baseball player of all time: Will Clark, my next posting will share how his story exemplifies the themes of Advent. 
So! Here I am passing on a something to read to you...albeit it through cyberspace. If I see you at school, in the hallway, on the golf course, at an airport or in Church please stop and let's take the next five, ten, heck even twenty minutes to discuss.Wise people may stop to join us...

Be who you are and be that well.
 —St Francis de Sales

I have had several male and female friends who have more-or-less lived at the gym. After some time and hard work, their bodies looked great. But their circle of friends dwindled to their workout partners, who were only sometimes genuine friends. They spent more hours working out than everything else but work or school and became so singularly obsessive about looking good that, frankly, they became boring. In conversation, they talked about their training. At dinner, they fretted over the slightest amount of salt or sugar.  At social engagements, they spent more time looking into mirrors than into the eyes and conversations of other people. I began to notice a narcissistic quality that became less and less attractive, even as they became more outwardly attractive people. In time, I found myself gravitating away from them, and growing closer to people who were more earthy, well-rounded, and real.  I mean, how often have you seen a muscle-bound, perfectly chiseled and the person working in a soup line? Well, perhaps that’s not fair, but a point is made.  When self-absorption sets in, we can forget (or simply cease to care about) the importance of serving others.

Now, this is not to say that I don’t encourage healthy exercise habits since sidestepping that would be to go against the basic tenets of my profession. It’s just that now, more than ever, everything to do with our physical nature seems to be taken to the extreme. Tattoos (the size and number), muscularity, thinness, near-shocking eye color via special contact lenses, breast size, and the dozens of ways we attempt to defy aging and improve aesthetics, are just a few that readily come to mind. Most troubling is that the inordinate amount of effort that goes into these extreme ventures often causes a shift in the way we see and serve God. Every act and each minute of anxiety tied to perfecting the body turns our attention away from and hardens our hearts to the things of God. Conversely, deeds of service and prayer for others turn our thoughts and hearts toward him. A turn toward and focus on God is always healing to the soul and leads us further down the path of self-acceptance. When we know our actions are pleasing to God we are more pleased with ourselves.

Now, way on the other side of the spectrum, are the good souls that serve God, but forget to serve themselves. In a soup line, we may see a kind gentleman who is dangerously overweight, unclean and ladling soup with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.  Is he serving God by serving others? Yes, quite literally. But even as he does so, he is abusing the body and ignoring the gift it is. It does no good in the long-run to rationalize the good deeds as a trade-off.

Our minds are an interesting place to be sometimes.

Parents who are balanced, keep things in perspective, and take care of their bodies while not obsessing over them usually pass these traits on to their children. Although we are aware that children go through phases of being influenced by their parents, we can never really know the effect we have on our kids. But as Saint Paul urges, we must always “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:12) with the concentration, discipline and extreme effort necessary to win the battle for the well-being of our children. As we do this­—loving, teaching, disciplining, and modeling healthy habits for our children—we demonstrate the kind of love and acceptance that God has for his people.

Parents of children with disabilities have a particularly tough challenge. In an understatement for sure, navigating the world of disabilities obliges a parent to go well beyond what is required of other parents to instill a positive body image in their children. Although this book is about body image and not about disabilities, I would consider it negligent to not address the disabled, diseased, and disfigured in our discussion of body image.

One of the most memorable photos of the past couple of years was one of Pope Francis kissing a grotesquely disfigured man who visited him at the Vatican. That man, Vinicio Riva, has a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis Type 1 (or NF1). The pope, clearly acting spontaneously and with overwhelming compassion, probably made his encounter with Mr. Riva the signature event of his papacy.

The pope’s actions were emotional and moving as he reached out to demonstrate the love that God wants to show one another. There were no expectations, no physical requirements, and no pretenses inherent in Pope Francis’s actions. He simply embraced and showed love to a man that, like anyone else, deserves to be treated with dignity simply because he is a child of God. A moment like that puts the fixation on physical perfection firmly in its place, doesn’t it? It can also help parents give perspective to their children when they complain about minor flaws on their face and body. Occasionally pointing out that millions of people deal with lost limbs, birth defects, and major scars from accidents or war can give our children a more well-round appreciation for their body as well as a compassion for others. You may even consider showing them a picture or a video of someone like Vinicio Riva to reinforce the lesson.

Photo Credits
Embrace from the Holy Father