Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bishop Stephen Neill: Missionary, Theologian, New Testament Scholar

I have an interesting tale about Bishop Stephen Neill, one of the great Anglican Bishops of the last century. Thirty some years ago, I was an  exchange student in Oxford, England. Often, I would spend afternoons wandering around the ancient city, poking my nose in the different colleges, trying to soak up the history of the place. If you've been there, you'll know what I mean as Oxford is unlike any other English city! One afternoon, I stumbled into Wycliffe Hall, the theological college where Bishop Neill was a "senior scholar". One student whispered to me "Come back later, there's a sherry party, and you can meet Bishop Neill!" At that time, I knew Neill had written the definitive book on the history of the Anglican church, Anglicanism (1958), which Anglican clergy used to revere. And when travelling, and low on money, whoever turns down the opportunity to meet a person like Neill and have free sherry and food? I moved on to the next Oxford college, snooped around, returned a few hours later, grabbed some sherry, and had the opportunity to meet the famous Bishop. I don't remember much from our conversation, but I do recall the Bishop being friendly, polite, and interested in what part of America I was from.

Since that sunny afternoon day in 1977, I have come to meet Stephen Neill again and again through his many books. And Neill rarely disappoints. Each time, I read Neill's books, there is almost always something new that I learn. Neill died in 1984, twenty five years ago, yet his writing style and themes are still fresh. Neill is one of the few writers, whose footnotes are  as interesting as his main body of work. As it stands, Bishop Stephen Neill, was one of the towering intellects of the last century. He wrote over sixty books, including some classics in church history, the interpretation of the New Testament, and mission and interfaith relations. It's been stated he could speak 15 different languages. Most importantly to our discussion on Celtic Christianity, Neill, whose family originally came from Northern Ireland, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the last day of the Nineteenth Century. Perhaps due to these roots, Neill writes with great affection about the Celtic Church. In A History of Christian Missions (1964), Neill reflects on the early leadership of the Celtic Church:

"We have already mentioned the missionary zeal which sprang from Irish monasticism. The most notable figure of our period is St. Columba, the apostle of Scotland. Born about A.D. 521 of a noble Irish family, Columba had already founded the two monasteries of Durrow in King's County, and Londonderry, when in 563 he decided to cross the narrow seas with twelve companions and to found a new monastery on the island called Hy or Iona. The purpose of this foundation was evangelistic; the Gospel was to be preached to the still heathen Picts...Columba left behind him a tradition of real and simple sanctity. It is written of him that "in the midst of all his cares he showed himself open and friendly to everyone; he bore the joy of the Holy Spirit in the inmost places of his heart".

Neill then turns his attention to another great Celtic leader, Aidan: "After an unsucessful start, Aidan was sent to pull things together, and was given a dwelling at Lindisfarne. Aidan brought with him the gentleness that we have noted in Columba, and also the ascetic traditions of Irish monasticism; it is recorded that he made his journeys on foot after the manner of the peregrini, the wanderers for the sake of Christ".

I don't want to belabor a point mentioned by many others, but what stands out for me in this passage, is that the Celtic church made an impact on the culture because of an "approachable" spirituality which was marked by gentleness, simplicity and charity, especially to the poorest. Morevoer, Neill says in his own way, that the Celts were counter-cultural, as they were "wanderers" who would go from place to place. In other words, the Celts challanged the places where most people at that time put their security and identity; the land, family, tribe, and country. They lived a different kind of lifesytle than the dominant culture, marked by a love of God and dedication to one another. I would recommend that we need to do the same.

About a year ago, I had a chance to read more about Neill's life in Mission Legacies (1994) as Neill was also a great missionary, who spent over twenty years in South India. I also was glad to see a definitive work, Bishop Stephen Neill: From Edinburgh to South India, (2008) by Dyron Daughrity. In both I discovered that Neill suffered from  serious mental illness for much of his life, having long bouts with depression, insomnia, and suicidal ideation. This gave me a renewed respect and admiration for Stephen Neill as a person. That Neill  was able to courageously carry on in his work, continue writing, and lecturing, is quite simply amazing.  He was heroic in every sense of that term, and an inspiration.

Let me also close this entry with another story about Stephen Neill. Last year I noticed a portrait of Stephen Neill on an American artist's website, George Buchanan, which can be viewed here. I sent the George an email, asking him about this, and we later talked on the phone. The story goes like this. Shortly before Neill died, he had been invited to Duke Univeristy to give some lectures. Someone commissioned to have Neill's portriat done, and the painting above was the result. Moreover, what is even more interesting, is that while Neill was sitting to have the portrait done, the conversations turned to spiritual things. The artist told me, that the conversation was a spiritual turning point in his life.  Typical Neill, a missonary to the end! That's a great story, one in keeping with Neill's life, and one our Celtic forefathers would have been proud of. Sharing the gospel in any situation. We would do well to practice that simple model in our world today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hip To Be Square

Over twenty years ago, I remember an American group, Huey Lewis and the News I think it was, had a song entitled "Hip to be square". I don't remember much of the lyrics, but the title is an apt one in the case of Brother Cadfael, surely one of the coolest monks ever!

Brother Cadfael, is the fictional character in The Brother Cadfael Chronicle Series by the British writer Ellis Peters. And in twenty short, swift moving and action packed novels, Ellis Peters describes the life and experiences of a Benedictine monk from 12th Century Britain. Thirteen on the novels were later made into a PBS Mystery Series featuring Sir Derek Jacobi as Cadfael. These historical/fictional novels are great reads, and fantastic ways to learn about monasticism, medieval life, and human nature in general.

Brother Cadfael is an attractive yet complex figure. He is a Celt, originally from Wales. Yet, he is also a man's man, a man of the world. He once fought in the First Crusade, and as a soldier knew killing and death. Along the way, he had many lovers and even fathered a son. He then lived in the Holy Land, working as a sailor. In middle age, Cadfael returned to Britain and sought to live a different kind of life. Seeking to heal instead of kill, Cadfael enters a monastary at Shrewsbury and joins the Benedictine Order. There he begins practicing as a herbalist, and healer and is something like a shaman. Due to his knowledge of the world, and his passion for justice, Cadfael also becames a detective or sorts, and often assists the local sheriff in solving local crimes.

What I love most about these novels, is the gentle simplicity and drama. The focus is on the complexity of human nature, not techincal effects as in most current stories or films. There is no hi-tech gagetry, visual effects, great shoot-outs, or endless chase scenes.  Simple human drama and the passions, both good and bad. This is a long time before we knew anything about fingerprints, video cameras, or profiles to go on. Instead, there is just instinct, and hunches.  And into this mix enters Cadfael, a man deeply aware of the powers of good and evil, and the ways of the world. Yet as a monk and deeply spiritual man, he also knows the transforming power of love.  It dosen't get any better!

These books or DVD's are the perfect solution for the rainy day, or lazy afternoon on the beach. The Cadfael Chronicles are well written and researched, and an imaginative and entertaining way to feed the inner monk in you. I picked up a second hand set of the books on ebay for a reasonable price.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I purchased a new laptop the other day, a Dell XPS, the slickest laptop I have ever owned. Part of the gig of owning a computer includes decided what kind of software to add, and then performing downloads. Nothing glamorous by any means! Moving from that task, I then read the following prayer in my devotions today:

"This is Aidan, strong and good, who challenged all to love God more, believe,
and truly follow Him with generous heart;
and this was the message that Aidan lived,
and this was the work that Oswald loved,
the peace that Columba found, the peace of Christ,
the way that Brigid lived, the prayer that Patrick made,
the circle that Ninian dew,
the life that Martin taught,
the house that love build,
the heart that John heard,
the way that God made."

Talk about downloads! I love these kind of prayers. I love the flow of the prayer, almost as if the actions of one person, affect the next. It's almost as if the prayer is intergenerational. The focus is not so much on words (the typical blah, blah, blah kind of prayer), and instead conjurs up for me wonderful, active images of the different saints cited. These were men and women who prayed yes, but just as important, they DID things; they lived a certain way, and had they not done so, their prayer would have been mere words. Another case of cheap grace. So prayer and behavior are linked, and one effects the other. And this is just one of the reasons why I need to pray. To be better, and to do more. And I confess I'm lousy at it. Sometimes, I'll do anything to avoid finding that quiet place, and settling down. It can be a tug of war! But when I do, I am almost always grateful just to have to time to think and see things in a different way. Glory to God!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Photos from St. Aidan's Mission Church

Skellig Michael

"Looking back from the great civilizations of twelfth-century France or seventeenth-century Rome, it is hard to believe that for quite a long time-almost a hundred years-western Christianity survived by clinging to places like Skellig Michael, a pinnacle of rock eighteen miles from the Irish coast, rising seven hundred feet ot of the sea".
                                             Sir Kenneth Clark's Civilization

I love this quote by Sir Kenneth Clark, and as I reead it, it makes me pause and think about how God often works in the most unusual and unpredictable ways. Think of it, as this is truly one of the great chapters in the history of the Christian faith. That Western Christianity could "hang in the balance" in such an obscure place as Skellig Michael, and later thrive in other parts of Europe, is well, truly amazing, and one of God's great gifts to mankind. Here is the sweet irony: there was more divine sweetness and light found in Skellig, than in any of the so called  "great cities" of Europe including London, Rome, and Paris. To me, this is a great historical lesson that God often works outside our best efforts, and is often hidden. Still, the still small voice.  And as with cities, probably so denominations and churches.

The Celts frequently referred to these sacred spots and events as "the place of one's resurrection", that is, the place where one struggled and worked out what God meant to be. It's understandable why the Celts would seek out such an isolated place like Skellig. No distractions, little else to focus on than one's faith. Leaving all the comforts of home behind. Kind of like a spiritual boot camp, though this time for life.

In a psychological sense, we can have our Skellig's anywhere. In our relationships, in the workplace, and even in our churches. And when it comes to that "inner work" many of us flee because we realize that like the steep slopes of Skellig, hard and focused labor is involved. Often, we run from the very tasks we need to do. So when we do, take heart, think back to Skellig Michael, and remember the lessons of that little community. Hard to imagine, that in the many of the so called civilized places in the Western world that both in piety and in scholarship, they were eclipsed by Skellig Michael.

One day, I plan to make another trip to Ireland. I was there once in 1977. I would want to visit Skellig Michael, make the rough sea journey, climb the rock steps, brace myself against the wind, listen to the churning sea below, look over to Little Skellig, and imagine what life was like there for the few who braved it. Even thousands of miles away, and centuries removed, their devotion makes me question some of my own understanding of Christianity.

In the meantime, I must admire from afar. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with the Canadian singer, Loreena McKennitt. Her music is wonderful, a strange blend of Celtic and mystical themes, including "The Mystics Dream", "The Dark Night of the Soul", "All SoulsNight". She has a thoughtful song entitled Skellig Michael and the video captures both in words and pictures the terrible beauty of Skellig. I often listen to it, and it never fails to carry my imagination to a place far away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The uniqueness of Celtic Monasticism

One of the best features of the World Wide Web is access to materials. The hardest decision, as anyone knows who uses the Web, is deciding what to focus on. Recently I chanced upon the website of All Saints of North America Orthodox Church, and to my delight found some excellent resources on Celtic Christianity. The site has several resources, included an interesting audiofile lecture by Fr. Young on The Uniqueness of Celtic Monasticism, and also a useful essay on Celtic Monasticism: A Model of Sanctity. There are also some handsome brochures on the Life of St. Patrick and St. Brigid, but the real gems are the first two items mentioned.

You should take the time to listen to the lecture, and read the essay. I listened with great interest to The Uniqueness of Celtic Monasticism this morning. There, Fr. Aleksey Young emphasises the only way to properly understand Celtic Monasticism, is remembering the close connection between Celtic and Orthodox spiritual traditions. The Celtic Christians were more like the Byzantine or Slavic Orthodox Christians that the Latin or Northern European Christians. More specifically, it was through the Desert Fathers, and writers like John Cassian, who helped shape the Celtic "brand". 

What is most interesting, is what Young pinpoints as the "unique contribution" of Celtic Monasticism. And that was the emphasis on peregrinatio, or pilgrimage, or as we might say today, "our faith journey". Pilgrimage-at least in its broadest sense-included the willingness to wander for the love of God, the willingness to place oneself in exile (and the unfamiliar) with the belief that such detachment brings with it, a deeper intimacy with God. Moreover, these faith journeys were taken for the main purpose of achieving personal salvation (St. Paul had said to "work out one's salvation"), and were outer manifestations of the inner search. Preaching, and the spreading the Gospel were a secondary by product of this search. Such a bold and daring notion of faith led many Celtic monks to cast everything to the wind, and it was common for the monks to embark on journeys in their coracles without oars, rudders, relying upon God alone to take them wherever He willed; Scotland, England, and to other parts in Europe.  

Many Celtic saints demonstrate this wild abandon to God, and to the Spirit. But perhaps the most famous example comes from St. Brendan's mountain prayer:

Shall I abandon the comforts and benefits of my home,
seeking the island of promise our fathers knew long ago,
sail on the face of the deep where no riches or fame
or weapons protect you, and nobody honors your name?
Shall I take leave of my friends
and my beautiful native land,
tears in my eyes
as my knees mark my final prayer in the sand?
King of the mysteries, can I trust You on the sea?

Christ of the heavens,
and Christ of the ravenous ocean wave,
I will hold fast to my course
through the dangers I must brave.
King of the mysteries, angels will watch over me,
Christ of the mysteries, when I trust You on the sea.

In Celtic Monasticism: A Model of Sanctity Young argues as other authors have done, that the Celtic model is one which can help to revive the church, through an emphasis on simplicity of faith and lifestyle. "For the Celts, simplicity wasn't so much a question of externals-like furniture, architecture, and so forth. It was something internal, an it was founded upon the phrase, "Thy will be done". This meant placing absolute trust in God's will, not our own, with every decision in life, including one's health, finances, and career. It also meant, dying to oneself, and one's own plans and desires. Understandably, the Cross of Christ was central to the Celtic thinking, and reminded them, that they needed to die to self. Perhaps this was one reason the high Celtic crosses were became so prominent as holy sites. The monks understood, that the Christian faith demands one's life, one's all. This is incarnational Christianity at it's best; a faith which changes hearts, lives and  behaviors. Such an understanding offers us a fuller view of Celtic Christianity, one which over emphasizes the scholastic, and intellectual aspect of the tradition, focusing on the copying and transmission of Greek and Latin manuscripts, as well the Old and New Testament. A countering stress on personal sanctification provides a fresh new dimension, and perspective as to what may have motivated many of the monks.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Listmania for Celtic Spirituality

I confess I love reading books, holding they in my hands, and learning new things. And no doubt, this “bookish” aspect, is one which drew me to study in Britain. Like many, perhaps even you, I frequently browse on Amazon for used books and also peek at the lists (Listmania) of books other readers suggests on a given topic. It’s also a great way to see what others are reading. That gave me the idea to provide my own list of suggested books on Celtic Christianity for the blog.

I am not an expert in Celtic thought by any means, and have been seriously reading it for ten years. I was first introduced to Celtic Christianity while at New College, University of Edinburgh in the late 1980's. I am grateful to my own denomination, the Celtic Catholic Church, for introducing me to a fascinating tradition and providing me with an excellent historical and spiritual foundation, and holding my feet to the fire to read books on Celtic history and spirituality. Along the way, I got connected with some really cool authors and great books. Here I provide ten titles that any serious student of Celtic Christianity would do well to read and purchase. Yes, my math is OK, I just could not find a photo cover for the first entry listed, hence only nine book covers are shown. My favorites change as I read new books, but these books listed below are "old faithfuls" and ones I return to repeatedly. Focus your attention on these, and you will be well on your way to becoming a Celtic Monk, like me. And don’t forget also to look on ebay and Abebooks for cheap second hand books.

An Introduction to Celtic Christianity, 1989, James P. Mackey. A collection of interesting essays perhaps the most important being the ones on Celtic Christianity, Saint Patrick, Pelagius, and Celtic Art and Scriptures. Sometimes hard to find, but eventually found for sale on ebay.

Carmena Gadelica, 1992, Alexander Carmichael. Originally in six large volumes, this is a collection of Highland Prayers, Hymns, and Incantations from the 19th century. The books helps one to understand the Celtic use of prayer in everyday events, from rising to sleeping. Our version of The Book of Common Prayer.

Celtic Christian Communities, 2000, Ian Bradley. Bradley, a theologian at the University of St. Andrews, does his best to dispel any romantic notions of Celtic Spirituality (such as if there were a break away Celtic Church or that it is the answer all for every problem). By contrast, the stress on monasticism, worship, and pilgrimage is something which can revive the church in the world today.

Celtic Spirituality, 1999, Oliver Davies. Perhaps the best starting point for any student of Celtic Christianity. Part of the Series, The Classics of Western Spirituality. An excellent and readable introduction to the main Celtic “sources” including hagiography, monastic texts, poetry, devotional texts, liturgy, exegesis and theology. Also useful is Celtic Christian Spirituality, 1995, by Oliver Davies, a younger version of the above.

Celtic Theology, 2000, Thomas O’Loughlin. I was lucky enough to find this on ebay for $5. This is the most “theological” of the books listed and is not an easy read. Some theological background and interest in history, is required. Surveys tough issues such as the Penitentials, Adomnan of Iona, Muirchu, and the Stowe Missal.

One Foot in Eden, 1999, J. Philip Newell. Newell’s readable books convey both the wonder and power found in Celtic thought. Poet, theologian, and a former warden of Iona Abbey. Some interesting discussion on Pelagius. For more on Newell, check out his website linked here.

The Celtic Way of Evangelism, 2000, George Hunter III. I love this book because it is so practical. The Celts were not irovy towers thinkers. How were the Celts able to convert a pagan Europe? This book will tell you. Live and learn amongst the pagans themselves. Learn to speak their language, and get to know their thought forms. The church would do well to follow this message as it is now immersed in a predominantly pagan culture.

The Quest of the Three Abbots, 1968, Brendan Lehane. The book covers “the golden age” of Celtic Christianity in the lives of Brendan, Columba and Columbanus, three “wanders of Christ” who traveled to America, Iona, and Europe. An incredibly well written and enlightening book. One of the best.

Exploring Celtic Spirituality, 2004, Ray Simpson. Written by the former warden of Lindisfarne. This book provides a Celtic blueprint for the church today. Provides a unique blending of background information, but also very practical lessons as to how the Celtic tradition can be implemented. A study guide is included with exercises, follow up suggestions, Bible study for both individuals and groups.

The Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 2006, Ed Sellner. Another excellent starting point for the beginner. Sellner’s beautifully illustrated book (filled with wonderful maps and pictures) contains perhaps the best short introduction to Celtic thought I have read. The first 60 pages are fantastic, and the prolegomena for Celtic studies.

Enjoy and happy reading!

A Celtic Church near you!

There are many different branches of the Celtic Church throughout the world. Just try Goggling Celtic Church and see how many entries there are! It's amazing, and evidence that people from all over the world are attracted to Celtic Christianity and Spirituality.

One person, Fr. Mike, has nobly begun the effort to try to create an online directory of Celtic Churches. No easy task as there are several Celtic denominations. In addition, we  Celts have always been the wandering type, so this task is probably the equivalent of trying to heard cats. The list is just forming, and its quite fascinating to see there are churches as far away as Brazil and South East Asia, and as close as California, Washington State, West Virginia, Minnesota and Kentucky. Here's the link here and feel free to add your church or denomination.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Celtic Miracle

Ever heard of the psychological term "synchronicity"? It's a term (usually heard from the lips of the followers of Carl Jung) which is their way of saying "everything happens for a reason". Something like this happened to me last week when I was flying from Newark NJ to Washington D.C. I was reading The Mountain Behind the Mountain (1993) a book on Celtic Spirituality by my old professor at the University of Edinburgh, Fr. Noel O'Donoghue. Along the way, I heard the person behind me speaking about the history of Ireland. When we were deplaneing, I turned to this individual, and said, "I heard you speaking about Ireland, and wanted to know if you've ever read this book?" and handed him Fr. Noel's book. He replied, "read it, I knew Fr. Noel!". And then he said, "Hello, my name is David Stang".

David and I met a week later in a local Irish bar (hence the dark photo), where we sipped some Guinness, eat fish and chips, laughed, spoke about Celtic Spirituality and history, and people we knew in common. As it turns out, David is a scholar on the Celtic tradition, and has also written a book on Celtic Spirituality, Emerald Spirit (2003) which is subtitled as "A Journey into the Irish Heart and Soul", and is published in Ireland. I'll also write a review of that book later upon returning to Hawaii. David also generously shared with me some essays he had written on the history of the Irish and St. Patrick. I later read these with great interest and was particularly impressed with both the scholarship and ability of David to tell a good story, just what you would expect for a good Celt. David "knows" Ireland, has a home in Kerry, and proudly states he has lived there "sixteen years in all".

I share this story, because I too believe that everything in life, good and bad, serve some kind of divine purpose. Everything does happen for a purpose. It's fascinating to note, that in speaking with David, he shared with me some recent "Celtic miracles" in his life, and I enjoyed hearing these. And at the same time as David was speaking, I realiaaed that I too was experiencing my own "Celtic miracle" in meeting David, having friends in common, and later, having the opportunity to speak with him further, and in developing a new friendship. Yet this phenomena is not something that should be strange to us in the Celtic tradition. The notion of welcoming the stranger, is central to Celtic Spirituality. I thought back to the lives of the many Celtic saints who practiced "welcoming" and thought of St. Cuthbert and remembered how he welcomed strangers, and in so doing, entertained angels unaware. These saints of old were onto something. I am a better person for going out of my way (and getting out of self) to say "hello" to a "stranger". I have also met someone who can teach me something more about a tradition I love.

This is the way our God works-through people, and through relationships, even when we least expect it. If we have the eyes to "see" this way, each moment, each event can open up rich and new possibilities. Change never comes easy, and I have to confess that I am one of those types who always looked for the big splash or Damascus Road experience.  But that's both bad theology and not realistic! We should know from the Carmina Gadelica, that great collection of traditional Celtic prayers and blessings, that miracles surround us each day; in the rising and setting of the sun, in our daily chores, the breathe we take, the simple act of eating food, and the presence of others around us. Fr. Noel was right and used to say with a twinkle in his eyes, "miracles are everywhere"!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Gathering of the Clans

Each Fall, for the past five years, my three brothers and I get together to do something with our ninety year old father. On three of those ocassions, we have decided to attend an Ohio State football game-an easy decision, as my father and the rest of us, are all Buckeye fans. Two of those games were between Ohio State and it's bitter rival, "that team up North", the University of Michigan. This year we took the opportunity to attend the game with Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania. And as fate would have it, it was the best game that Ohio State has played this season. Both offensively, and defensively, it was a convincing win for the Bucks. If they win their next two games (against Iowa and Michigan) they will win the Big 10 conference outright, and for the fifth year in a row. For those of you who want to watch highlights of the game from Youtube, click here.

These games are always a "spectacle". There are lots of events both before and after the game. Before, there are "pep" rallies, where thousands gather, fans cheer, and allow their emotions get whipped up by the University bands. (This is easily done if you have also attended that University). Usually both players and the head coach have something to say to the gathered faithful, and the night become the game, we even got to hear the legendary coach of Penn State, Joe Paterno, speak. Then it's off to the game itself, in a large oval stadium, filled the team colors below, and deep blue sky above. And the energy and enthusiam of the stadium is electric. Every heard 110,000 people scream all at once?

What makes these games tribal is that fans on each team where their colors proud. For us fans of the Ohio State University, we wear scarlet and gray, or scarlet and something! And for Penn State, the colors are blue and white. There's something extra special about going to an away game and being in the minority. One tee shirt I saw put it well. It said "Don't be scared, I just invited 100,000 of my friends to the party today". As a result, one tends to look out for other people wearing scarlet and gray, whom you can easily bond with, as if they were new family members, or old friends. And that familiar code like cheer, "OH"  followed by an "IO" sounds extra sweet behind enemy lines. In the stadium itself, one is reminded again of our tiny minority as we few scarlet and gray spots, are engulfed in a sea of blue and white. And what makes it even greater, are the local gracious fans, who say "Good luck today", even though they don't mean it, and then ask to have a photo taken with you, as if it were some great Detente!

In my imagination's eye, I compared the wearing of the colors, that I and my brothers, and other Ohio State fans were wearing, to the tartans from Scottish clans of old. We represented the different clans from across the area who were their to support the Ohio State football team. And like the Scots of yesterday and today, we like to sing. So throughout the game, we OSU fans sing sections from "Fight the Team", "Across the Field", and "Carmen, Ohio".  As I age, I look forward to these rituals, these traditions, these gatherings. They are fun and meaningful. They remind me that I am part of several different families. Not just the Ohio State family, but also my own family, and the family of man. These events remind me that it's a good thing to be part of a group, to feel like you belong, and to remember one's roots.

I look forward to our trip again next year!

Go Bucks!