In a previous blog i mentioned a piccoloist who felt her part just so insignificant that she stopped playing. The Maestro halted the whole orchestra mid-symphony in order to comfort and to ensure her that her role was as important as anyone’s. In light of this i want to share the tale of someone so tiny YET SO TALL in the center of this world with all of its troubles. ICHABOD is the Maestro God’s VALENTINE to us all. i believe his story may take a few installments, but it is well worth the reflection.

Let me first say how happy i was last week, when the British Royalty decided to honor an amazing little saxophone player from Northern Ireland, George Ivan Morrison, better known to us all as VAN THE MAN. At Buckingham Palace he finally became Sir Ivan.


Already i’ve heard many asking Why? What did he do?! Sing about some girl with brown eyes? Do a little Moondance? The truth is, this little man labored for over half-a-century to fill the world, so dark and sad and lonely, so “melancholic” – as he puts it, as it can be, with Light and Hope and Love. When i announced the Knighthood far and wide, many wrote to share what he meant to them, each one by their favorite from his enormous repertoire. It’s interesting how the winner among them all turned out to be Crazy Love. (i believe that only Dylan wrote more, and Dylan claims, “There’s none better than Van the Man.”)

i’ve been writing this blog for days, actually for months. Most recently i did some rambling on Donald Trump, and people have asked me why? Why would i waste my time, my words, on Trump…or on politics in general? Well, it’s true, our politics are at their very lowest ever (i feel the pain), and our country, our world, is in its direst need for a few good men. But i did all of that Trumping deliberately, and as a PRELUDE to this man, Ichabod, in contrast, one very good man, the CRAZIEST-LOVING brother of mine.

There are those like Trump and Cruz who actually think that carpet-bombing the Middle East is the answer, the best answer, the one answer. As if it would end the war and end the threats against the U.S. and the other freedom-loving nations of the earth. As if it would not lead to the War-to-End-All-Wars, as it would end all human life. What did Mr. Gandhi say? “An eye for an eye until the whole world is blind.”

…AND THEN THERE’S ICHABOD, my looney-loving buddy. Ichabod is not his real name, but it is what i always called him, as he was tall and skinny like Ichabod Crane. i won’t mention his real name or where he is at, as i would dread to be the one to hasten any terrible fate, as ready as he might be. Ichabod is a Capuchin friar/priest who lives in the Middle East as shepherd to many Catholic Christians and “crazy lover” to everyone he meets. He is not there to convert anyone but only to understand, to heal, and to love. i will return to this later.

But speaking of Gandhi, who can ever forget that defining moment of his life’s mission. Here he had wrestled his beloved India out of the grip of British tyranny. Enough project for whole vast armies, it was completed by only one tiny man who walked around in a diaper, had no title and no money. No sooner were they all free, however, then his dear countrymen decided to slaughter each other, Hindi versus Muslims. “The Great Soul” as he was known, “Mahatma” decided to hunger strike as a plea for civil war to cease and for them to begin instead to discuss how all could live in harmony. Wasted to nothing and just before he breathed his last breath, Gandhi was visited by a fellow Hindu who was screaming almost out of his mind, “I AM IN HELL!” He had just taken a Muslim child and crushed his head. “I LIVE IN HELL!” By now it was nearly impossible for Gandhi to breathe, let alone to speak, but he managed to get out, “I know a way out of hell. Find a Muslim child orphaned by this senseless war, and raise him as your own.” The man immediately felt a great burden lifted from him…..until the Mahatma added, “But be sure to raise him Muslim.”

WOW! To stretch the mind to think the unthinkable. To open and expand the heart to the very Craziest of Crazy Love (to love even as Jesus who was Gandhi’s ideal, although he was not even a Christian.)

And then there is Ichabod. A dear friend of mine, truly a BROTHER in the highest sense of the word, he and i lived in Italy together over 30 years ago. He actually chose to “Live in Hell,” as Americans and many others would call it. Whether he is killed by sword across his throat or by a nice shiny American carpet-bomb – but HOPEFULLY, God, you will preserve him who serves You!? Whatever happens, there is one who has found another way, call it Gandhi’s way or Jesus’ way or just “the road less traveled by.” Or maybe call it “the way of the Great Knight, Sir Ivan Morrison, the Way of Craaaaaaaaaazy Love.” His way out of Hell is to go right into Hell’s Belly, and, like a little piccoloist, play his tiny part minute by minute, hour by hour, doing what he can do for Love.

Let’s pray for him and all of those with him…and for our crazy world. Only something crazy is going to work (and i truly do not think it is carpet-bombing?!)

More next time. Ichabod, i love you. (He is reading this!)


Author: friardad

what's it like having a wife and six kids after having been a friar for many years and being still married to St. Francis' Lady Poverty?

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