Saturday, April 12, 2014


    Several weeks ago, the Denver Post ran a feature on the Denver band "The Fray".  The occasion was the release of their most recent album (their fourth) entitled "Helios".  One of the things that made this so newsworthy was that the album was released on vinyl.  How old-school!  (There was, included with the album, a download code . . . I suppose for folks who no longer had turntables!).  The frontman of the band, Isaac Slade, said that the album was much different than its predecessors; it wasn't as dark, reflecting changes in the lives of the bands' members (a couple of them, with their wives, are expecting children).  The article's author, Matt Miller, wrote: "when their professional lives are going well, the only result could be a happy record, despite their reservations.
     The next paragraph is basically a quotation from Isaac Slade:  "'The definition of cool for the last 65 years has been to be aloof, like you don't care . . . The uncoolest thing in the world is to smile.  When you're honest and you open up to being in a bright place, it causes a lot of exposure and vulnerability.'"   And that got me thinking about how many photos we see of folks who are scowling.  I'd never really connected the glower with coolness.  But, I think Slade is right.  And I wonder why we want people to connect us with a photo that might more likely be found on a mug-shot?
     I spent this afternoon with thirteen students and six Alzheimer's sufferers -- yes we were ALL together.  And we were playing croquet.  The program, put on by an organization called Jiminy Wicket, aims at bridging the dementia-gap through a simple game, and, in the process, creating smiles.  All of us DU folks, at first, were a bit apprehensive (whether or not we would admit it) about who might arrive in the van from the senior center.  And, we learned a bit latter, many of the seniors were a bit nervous too; some, of course, not entirely sure where they were going.
      Within just a few minutes, however, things were VERY different.  After the first "whack" of the croquet ball, the first ball-through-the-wicket, the barriers were gone.  Young men were helping (much) older women.  Young women were teamed with men.  Competition, while fierce -- and, maybe in some sports, prone to be accompanied by scowling and chest-thumping -- was not such that opposing players weren't smiling and cheering when Bob, from his wheelchair, made an amazing shot.  Or when Lucy, stooped and wearing dark glasses, made a 20' shot through the wicket.  Whoops and smiles galore.
      I've gotta say, it was a cool afternoon.  No glowering necessary.  We were, as Slade put it, "in a bright place".  And, yes, there was exposure and vulnerability. . . .on all sides.  But it became a time-out-of-time when we, together, were united by smiles - - old and young, able- bodied and not, from different religious background, different countries.  We were anxious no more.  No longer afraid.
      Way cool.


Chaplain Gary

Note:  We will be repeating the Jiminy Wicket experience again in May.  If you're interested in being notified when the date is set, send me an email at:

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