Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ti voglio bene

Driving home from church today I was listening to an interview of a Swiss Guard, Andreas Widmer, who was one of the body guards of Pope John Paul II.  He was talking about missing home when he was away from home for his first Christmas.  He was guarding one of the doors, when he got word that that was how the pope was going to be leaving.  He said he has been crying and didn't want it to be seen, but the pope was walking past and said, "Ah, you are new here.  I don't know you."  He then walked over to Andreas and stretched out his hand to shake it and he said his cover blew. The pope continued with "Of course, this is your first Christmas away from home isn't it?" He said it was the wrong thing to say to him since he started crying again. He said the pope said, "I appreciate the sacrifice you are making for the church tonight.  I am going to pray for you at Midnight Mass tonight."  He said he felt at last someone had acknowledged his feelings and his sadness. He had walked past 20 of his best buddies and none of them had said a word.

He wrote a book about his experiences and he called it The Pope and the CEO.  He talked about the leadership lessons he learned while serving as a Swiss guard.  It touched me because so much of what he spoke about is exactly what I am looking for in a mate and ultimately the woman I want to be.  I thought about the traits every human being should embrace.  He told the story above and said that here was the leader of a church who was in a leadership position at the height of the cold war.  He said that is the mark of a good leader, someone who is present enough in the moment to see how the joys and sorrows that the people around you are experiencing.  As a Swiss guard he was supposed to blend into the background, but the pope noticed his pain and responded to it, despite all the more "important" things that were going on at that time. He said that John Paul made everybody he met feel like they were the reason he got up in the morning.  Here is what he said about leaders in the book:

Effective leaders have a vision, understand it, live it, and are able to communicate that vision. People follow these leaders because their vision inspires them to reach new heights. They help people excel. They do this in four ways:
  1. They understand themselves and have clear purpose and values; on this foundation, they set their vision and goals;
  2. They take responsibility and initiative;
  3. They understand their undertaking and excel at recognizing and synchronizing talents to tasks. And above all;
  4. They engage in servant-leadership in that they understand the value, potential and aspirations of people who are entrusted to their leadership. Great leaders are coaches and mentors of future great leaders.
I liked this part too:  Practice humility – follow some simple rules: don’t follow every one of your whims, intentionally obey, endure affliction, confess your weaknesses, practice contentment, learn self-reproach, practice silence, speak simply and act humbly. Show everyone the same amount of respect.

He said that to be a leader you must know what is right and what is wrong.  You must feel it is your job to tell someone what is right and wrong.  You cannot think of only profit for yourself, you must consider profit for everyone in the company.  He spoke of servant leadership and he even mentioned that the words for "I love you" in Italian (Ti voglio bene) translate into English "I desire for you, good."  The glue that holds a relationship together is that we can trust each other.  We must have a public moral culture so that there is one truth.  There can never be a situation where someone can say, "This is my truth and that is your truth."

So, I had lots to think about on my drive home about wanting the best for the person you love; about sacrificing what you particularly want for the good of your family; about having a common truth about what is right and wrong; about trust; and about love being wanting good for the other person.

I also thought about my encounters with the Swiss guard and how good they are at their job.  I was in St. Peter's with a group of about 50 kids.  It was getting late and St. Peter's was getting ready to be closed and locked.  There was no announcement of last call to pray.  I noticed as people left, the guard just stood by the people that remained, not interfering in what they were doing or trying to usher them out.  They didn't even speak.  They just stood by and as people got up and moved, the guard moved with them and slowly but surely each person was guided out of the church and each person was made to feel as if they had the control to stay or leave, which I think ultimately they did.  I am sure they never would have been asked to leave.  They did leave and left under their own terms because of the gentle manner the Swiss guard had about them.  It was quite something to watch.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The quality of a man

Someone posed the question of how is it possible to be a servant king to your wife, I found this on-line and thought...hmmm...yes, this is it exactly.  I wonder if there are men out there who on being presented with this list would say, yes, I want to have all those characteristics for you and how many would be immediately scared away.

1. Integrity – Integrity is more than being honest. It’s a lifestyle set on striving towards moral excellence. Real men say what they mean and mean what they say. They are the same person whether or not others are watching. They are trustworthy, dependable, and unwavering.

2. Compassion – Compassion is sympathetic
consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate
it. In other words, you feel compelled to help someone who is hurting.
Men aren’t often viewed as being compassionate, but it is a trait that
helps us to become more connected to the people around us. Real men turn their compassion into service and work to make the world a better place.

3. Confidence – Real men are confident. Many
people confuse confidence with arrogance and self-centeredness. Real men know the difference. Confidence is about being self-assured and
self-aware. Confident men have faith in their abilities and knowledge.
They don’t need to tear others down in order to build themselves up.
They earn people’s trust with their radiant, inner strength. When a they walk into the room, everyone takes notice.

4. Self-control – Hardly a day goes by without a news
report about some high-profile man who has been destroyed by sex, money, and/or drugs. Too many men lack self-control, but it is the foundation
of a virtuous life. Self-control starts with focus and ridding yourself
of distractions. Doing this isn’t easy because temptations lurk around
every corner. Real men are able to tame their desires and channel that energy into positive pursuits.

5. Perseverance – Perseverance is the product of
self-control. It is courageous resistance against difficult
circumstances. Perseverance is only developed through trials. Real men endure the trials and emerge stronger. They never give up.

6. Bravery – Bravery is the courage to do what is
right regardless of the circumstances. Nothing is ever accomplished with an attitude of passivity. Real men stand up in the face of adversity.

7. Humility – Today’s breed of young men loves to let
everyone know how much swagger they have. They thump their chests and
proclaim to the world, “I’m a Big Deal. Look at me!” Real men understand the value of being humble and letting someone else's light shine. They realize that humility is more endearing than self-importance.
Humility indicates that you are ridding yourself of the poison of
self-centeredness. Besides, humility softens the blow when someone
knocks you off your pedestal.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


There is something incredibly sexy about a man seeing past your defenses and breaking them down.  I loved this poem from a song I am performing with the choir I belong to (all women actually):

He was full of tenderness;
She was very hard.
And as much as she tried to stay thus,
Simply, and with no good reason,
Her took her into himself,
And set her down
in the softest, softest place.