Saturday, May 1, 2010

Two 20th century men

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I really like Cab Calloway, the depression era jazz singer known for his rich baritone voice and call and response style songs. The music was very energetic; the songs were often upbeat, and full of wordplay and scat style singing. He would bellow out in his fine, rich voice “Hi Dee Hi Dee Hi Dee Ho!” then the band (and presumably a live audience) would respond “Hi Dee Hi Dee Hi Dee Ho!”

Before we were married, Adrienne and I visited New Orleans. One day during our visit we went to a jazz history museum. On one poster, in the right corner, I saw Cab Calloway’s autograph. I paused for a moment to consider what I was looking at. This poster with its faded letters and graphics had actually been held in the hands of the dynamic singer. Not only had he touched this poster but he had put his name on it as proof that he had been there. It was like there was a bit of him before me.

Last night my nephew David and his wife Robyn came to visit me on their way to David’s nephew’s First Communion. We spent a great hour talking with each other. As David and Robyn were getting ready to leave he reached into his pocket and pulled out a green velvet bag. Because of my faith in Christ, he told me, he wanted to share something with me.

He told me about Padre Pio, an Italian priest who died in 1968. He was canonized by Pope John Paul the second in 2002. This saint was known for experiencing stigmata, literally showing the wounds of Christ on his own body. He wore gloves to cover the wounds on his hands. Inside the velvet bag was a rosary that they had acquired while vacationing in Italy. This rosary had sat in the palm of one of those gloves and been blessed. Twice before David had given his rosary to people who needed healing in their lives and they had returned it to him after they had been cured. He hoped that I would keep it and it would help me.

For the rest of the night as I held the green bag with the rosary on my weakened muscles, I thought about what a great privilege it was to have a gift like this given to me wholly unasked for and unexpected.

While holding the rosary in my hand I was reminded of the Cab Calloway poster and how I felt standing in front of his autograph. I can believe that the healing power of Christ has come to me through this rosary.

Last week I was worried that my faith was insufficient. I have come to believe two things. The first is that it is easier to believe then to not believe. The second is that belief might not be felt in words but in experience. Just because I say I believe in something doesn’t mean I can explain what that belief is.

On a side note, I am very grateful to my friend Steve for bringing his whole family to visit with me today. Not only did they bring their love and support, they also brought the gift of laughter I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.


  1. Now that you have the Rosary you need to 'work the beads' (pray the Rosary). It's a series of Hail Mary's, Glory Be's and Our Fathers. I'm sure you can Google "How to pray the Rosary". I hope you're doing well. Lucy

  2. I think you're right. It will be a good project for me today.