Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
Back to Blog
A Compassionate Ear and a Passion for Positive Change
There Is No Present Like TIME
In the movie called "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" about elderly people in India, Judi Dench's character states: "There is no present like time." This, of course, is a take-off on "There is no time like the present."
I have been thinking a lot about time lately. Am I old?
After all, I one of the first ones approved for the COVID vaccine. Am I retired? No, I don't think so. Parts of my life have changed, but I am still in the world, doing something I hope is valuable to others. My official "jobs" are over.
I taught college for 40 years. I was a therapist in private practice for 25 years. I led men's and couple support groups for 25 years. But I am still a husband, a father, a friend, a grandfather, an uncle, and a community member.
All of these official occupations were a big part of my life. But my life goes on after those endeavors are completed. I wrote books, plays, and produced films. They are still out there, and on my shelves. But they are not my essence.
I have wondered with this virus, "How long do I really have to live?" I don't know. I've never known, and I don't know now. So, it is not yet my time to die. Being close to 80 seems like it is moving into the final stretch. Betty White turns 100 as I write this. Cicely Tyson is 96. Both are functioning, creative, and inspiring people. Maybe I have lots of time? The question remains: What do I do with this precious, amazing time?
What I have come to believe is that TIME IS A GIFT. TIME is not to be taken for granted. As long as I am able to listen, support others, and live with compassion, I will continue to do so. It doesn't have a name, or definition. It is just a blessed gift of time. As my wife, Gloria, says, "It is my job to be available."
Time to be available. To be a constant force for love in the world. Maybe that's what it is all about. Using the time when I have energy, health, and prosperity to be a light in the world. This means living in integrity, being consistent, telling the truth, supporting those in need and having a compassionate ear. I can also promote social and racial justice, fairness, equality for all, and mindfulness about the environment.
Yeah, that's it. A Compassionate Ear and a Passion for Positive Change. I can share my ideas, and make suggestions when I am asked to do so. I am committed to being present, loving, and kind.
There is no job definition of those, and no paycheck.
But, my time has come to use what I have studied and learned about people, social institutions, and how life seems to work -- to be an elder.
Wait a minute. Being an "elder" is too limiting also. I am every age I have ever been. Maybe it goes like this: Just be, be grateful for the gift of time, the health, the ability to shut up when necessary, to speak up when it makes sense, reach out and pay attention.
So -- that's my identity. That's my category. No category -- but continuing to do God's will, to bring out more peace, understanding, and justice in the world.
We certainly need it. Thank you, God, for the gift of TIME.
Back to Blog
We're all in this together
We need each other for support
So let's start over with empathy
And learn to share, care, and forgive
We can pray for peace
But we must do our part
Protect those in need
And overcome selfishness
There is much to be done
And great suffering abounds
We must free the outcasts
And lift up the underdogs
We must overcome this virus
And move into health
For all in our community
It is time to get real
Racism, classism, ageism
No one is superior when
When we are all one
Let us remember our Creator
Who gave us all life
And supports our every breath
As we keep fighting for justice
We are Unity Minneapolis
We are united in our purpose
To spread Divine Love
All over this planet
The earth needs tender care
Let us be aware and mindful
Of global warming and pollution
With responsible stewardship
So let love guide our hearts
And heal our souls
As we come together in peace
And turn our prayers into action
Back to Blog
LEGACY -- The Imprint We Leave Behind
Every day, we have an opportunity to do our part to bring more love, peace, and joy into the world. Our every action can make a difference in somebody's life. When we leave this earthly body and this planet, it is helpful to know what we have learned, and what we have left behind. This is called our "legacy."
Here, we will take the letters of "legacy" and describe in more detail what that can look like.
L -- Love Lessons
We have daily opportunities to share love in the world. We can be kind to those we know, and those we hardly know. Our behaviors reflect our feelings.
So, it is important to ask oneself, "What is the most loving thing I can do in this situation?" We also learn to love ourselves, and receive love from others. This caring, nurturing feeling reinforces our knowing our own beauty and God-like-ness. We can also teach others to love more by setting an example, being a role model.
E -- Energetic Experiences
By living fully, in the moment, and being the vibrant creation that we are, we feel a deep connection with all there is in the world. This feeling of connection affects our actions, thoughts and feelings. We have had many different types of encounters. Some of these encounters have been joyous and meaningful, filled with love. Others may have been painful, challenging and ultimately enlightening. We leave behind the complexity, depth, and intensity of what we have lived.
G -- God's Grace, Gratitude and Generosity
We live in God's grace, knowing we are loved, cherished, forgiven, and appreciated. With this, we do not need to applause, attention, and approval of others. By knowing this about our lives, we develop freedom to help others become their true selves. We are generous with our resources including our time.
We live in gratitude and appreciating our gifts and talent. We do not take for granted our good health, mental and physical skills, and ability to connect and care about others.
A -- Affirming Actions and Availability
We live with a positive attitude about ourselves, life, and the world. Our actions reflect this positivity. Our actions affect others, and they, in turn, affect others.
So, by affirming that WE ARE LOVE IN ACTION, we become instruments of God's unending love. We make ourselves available to others in need. We listen, care, and support those around us who are hurting.
C -- Courageous Connections
We develop friendships and intimate connections with others. We are courageous and take appropriate risks. We live out our potential and dreams by going out into a challenging world, and difficult situations. We speak up for justice, truth, and integrity of all people. We are mindful and selective as we venture into uncharted waters. We also teach others to be courageous by our example. We are blessed to have resilience, the ability to bounce back.
Y -- Yearning for Yonder
As creative human beings, we have the gift of imagination. We can see beyond the obvious. We wander, and we wonder. We explore and we move into the spiritual realm. This energy of exploration means that we are continuously expanding, and learning new ways of being. We move into worlds different than the one we were raised in. We travel to different places, see different people. All the while, we realize we are one with God, and each other, and nothing can separate us from that knowing. As we have goals and dreams, we inspire others to see that were is more beyond the horizon.
What a journey it is to live this human experience! Since we are spiritual beings, we have a depth to us that transcends what is visible. As we move into later life, we become aware that our legacy is not just money or possessions, but an imprint that has made a meaningful difference in the human world. And for this, we are grateful and blessed.
Back to Blog
Living with 10,000 Chickens
I grew up in rural central New Jersey on a 10,000 white leghorn chicken farm. All chickens, no roosters. My father, mother and I worked hard every day collecting, cleaning, sorting, and packing eggs.
My Dad did not believe in caging animals. So, no cages. Coops with room to run around, and free range time on five acres during the warmer months. There were about 200 per room. Chickens made lots of noise, cackled from 5 a.m., and smelled like manure which they readily manufactured. The laid eggs in wall nests, and slept on wooded perches.
We got to go outside when the chickens moved onto the range for the five warmer months, April through September. I remember the small pleasures I had as I fed them by spreading grain from pails. There was an airport nearby, and I imagined the pilots getting a laugh as they flew overhead. I wrote out words on the ground in grain, and the chickens all ate in the configurations of the words, making them even larger. At age eight, words like "shit" and other curse words were my favorites. My father never knew.
We had several dogs as pets during my childhood, but they would run out to the highway and get killed. So, we couldn't have dogs anymore. However, when was around age ten, I had a pet chicken named "Troodle" for Gertrude. She would run across the room in the coop when I called her name. She would sit down in front of me, and I would pick her up and pet her. She had a painted red mark on her white feathers.
When the chickens molted and were sold to the butcher, Troodle was spared. Although she had molted like the others, eventually all of her feathers grew back, and she looked vibrant again. She lived over five years which is long for a chicken and died of old age. I was about
fourteen, and cried very when she passed. I never had another pet chicken.
I learned about nurturing animals, the cycle of birth and death. We had to deal with diseases and hurricanes. I worked with my parents every day after school, and all day in the summer and on weekends. I started around age seven. I collected eggs, and helped wash, sort, and pack them. I was proud that our truck had letters written on it saying, "David Obsatz and Son."
At times, I really resented the farm and the chickens, the daily routine, and the lack of free time to play with friends. However, we spent many evenings in the summer as a family going to the ocean in Asbury Park, about fifteen minutes away. We watched the waves, the pigeons, the seagulls, and eating salt water taffy. You'd think that I would be tired of birds of any kind by evening.
Back to Blog
O Holy Night: