The Pilgrim and the Politician

A man begins a pilgrimage to Rome in Canterbury, England, and eventually arrives at the Hospice of Grand St. Bernard. As he walks, he carries 88 years of joy, sorrow, and a rather large backpack on his back.

Traveling from Bern to the Hospice of Grand St. Bernard is another man, who is also on a journey. As he makes his way, he carries the arrival of a new baby and the weight of his country’s future on his back.

Pilgrims walk for different reasons. Our pilgrim walked, but he did not know why. He only knew he was called to walk and was uninterested in “why.” Politicians attend events for a myriad of reasons. Our politician attended an event in late June because he knew he should be there. He didn’t pay much attention to “why.” Both men were answering a call.

Nationality separated them. Language separated them. Normal, everyday differences separated them.

Why did Brian walk? Why did Christophe attend that concert?

Perhaps one of the many reasons Brian walked and Christophe attended that concert could be this blog post and the mere fact that you are reading it.

It’s 2014 and we can be jaded and cynical. Most of us see politicians as untouchable and most of us do not pay any attention to pilgrims. A politician would never waste his time talking to a pilgrim and they certainly would not be at the same event because politicians go to fancy places and pilgrims do not.


There are still places in this world that transcend language, nationality, age, religious beliefs, socio-economic differences. There are still places that bring people together for a common purpose, known or yet unknown. There are still places where two men from completely different walks of life can be brought together to share things – ideas, music, Raclette. There are places where the sting of cynicism is made weak.

We have to treasure these places and nourish them. We must feed them with our time, with our resources, and with our very best intentions. We have to look at these places as true sanctuaries because that is what they are.

They are places where the shoes on your feet do not matter. They are places where the color of your hair, your skin, your coat…none of it matters. They are places where a pilgrim and a politician are both seen as exactly what they are:  God’s children – truly equal and worthy of unconditional love and acceptance.

We must give our best to these places and the people walking into them. Both are deserving of our adoration.

I could say many things about the pilgrim and the politician. They are two of the finest men I have met in a very long time. It is not the point. The point is much simpler than that.

There is a place on the border between Switzerland and Italy where a pilgrim and a politician sat together and shared an important life moment.

That place is the Hospice of Grand St. Bernard.

You should go there and give it your best. If you cannot go there, you can still give it your best.

Donate 5 dollars, 10 Euro, 20 CHF, or 100,000£. What is your best? Give that.

Hospice du Gd-St-Bernard – 1946 Bourg-St-Pierre – Suisse
Union de Banque Suisse – 1920 Martigny
IBAN        CH50 0026 4264 6946 8001 X
BIC          UBSWCHZH80A

If we don’t give these places our best, how can this happen?

The Pilgrim and the Politician
The Pilgrim and the Politician



I have a bone to pick with Mother Teresa

Four years ago, I memorized it in German, then English because of her. Darn nuns with angelic faces. Darnit! They get me every darn time. I can’t even use appropriate curse words.

The poem is either called “Do it Anyway” in English*or “Trotzdem” in German. Do not write me and say, “She didn’t really write it.” Fine, she probably didn’t. See the little star at the end of this.

NEVERTHELESS, we have to love people, show them our best, surround them with light…even though they are not deserving.

Yadayada. Isn’t that what God is for? Isn’t He supposed to be in charge of doling out grace? I really can’t do it.

Last Sunday, at Mass, “We are called to turn the other cheek not only because we are instructed to, but also because the world needs it from us,” Ruth informed us.

I hate it when Ruth is speaking to me even though she thinks she’s speaking to the entire congregation at Franziskanerkirche in Luzern. It’s so embarrassing. I’m sure they all know I am her favorite.

Moving on, I get the whole “being a good person” and “turning the other cheek” thing. But, here’s the crux – I’ve done that a sold 75% of the time. Here is how it has left me: stressed, broke, disappointed, broken-hearted. Listen up world, it’s 2014. Maybe I’m ready to stop turning the other cheek and start showing humanity the cheek to kiss, know what I’m sayin’? I’m sick of this.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered; Forgive them anyway.


What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.

La la la la…I can’t hear you…

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

Stop that!

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

Seriously, that’s enough.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

Augh. Okay, cheek turned.

Why? Not because I’m Catholic. Not because I’m stupid or blonde (it’s probably grey underneath this mess anyway) or because Ruth read the poem a long time ago.

It’s because I’m lucky.

I was born in the United States. I was handed a FREE education by my mother and father. I was handed a FREE spiritual foundation by the men and women who raised me in Dallas. I was given almost 3 decades with my grandparents, sister, and brother in my almost everyday life. In Switzerland, I have struggled…but I have loved this country, been loved by the Csendes family in good times and bad, been loved by friends.

The trick is finding the balance between being a punching bag/ doormat and being an arrogant “I’m an island” jerkface.

As this website says, “woman under construction.”

That I am. BLERG! Thanks a lot, MT. You and your kindness. Augh.

It was never about you and them anyway.


* OR “The Paradoxical Commandments,”  written by Dr. Kent M. Keith – I tend to go with the research, which supports Mother Teresa had it on her wall, but did not write it.