Author Archives: Tom Zampino

Tom Zampino is an attorney in private practice in New York City who makes his home on Long Island. He and his beautiful and accomplished wife have raised two fantastic daughters, four cats, two dogs, and various other domesticated creatures over the past three decades. He formerly blogged at the Catholic Channel at Patheos.

For Want Of A Dove

 

Days are chaotic and nights are a terror

For want of a dove

Symbols and signs and roadmaps have failed us

For want of a dove

Battles and scars and tumult close out our days

For want of a dove

Tomorrow’s promises will fade like today’s

For want of a dove

Come find

me

Peace

Copyright 2019

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Vanity

 

“Vanity of vanities. All things are vanity”

(Ecclesiastes 1:2)

If even the very hairs on our head have been numbered, then so too have our days.

And as for all those sleepless nights, unbearable scars, and unyielding struggles, well they too have been counted since long before time began. They too have been sanctioned.

But not every crisis, unexpected death, or violent retaliation has been unleashed for a godly purpose. Not every obstacle placed in our way is some mystical test of our faith or our willpower or our strength.

Sometimes, bad stuff just happens.

Most of us know of the emotional and physical callouses that result from trying to build a life for ourselves and for our families. We are as familiar with all the baggage as we are with all the joy.

Both are quite real.

But often, some of those earliest – and best – intentions have provided all of the excuses we needed to start cutting corners, to start looking for that edge, to start . . . going low.

Competition is healthy and necessary. And it really does bring out the best in us. Until it doesn’t. Until we can no longer compete for the win, however defined.

And so we start to grab ahold of anything and everything at an accelerating pace, and with a tightening grip. Soon, all that which we have held begins to slip through our fingers like so much dust.

It’s all dust.

It’s all vanity.

But if we can remember that, perhaps other doors will open. Ones that just might lead us back home.

During these days of Lent, I’ve been reminded to look for the open doors, instead of staring at the dust that now covers my hands.

Peace

Copyright 2019

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Remarkable

 

What’s remarkable is the morning, with its disinfecting sunlight and fresh promises, no matter where the night may have left you.

What’s remarkable is the afternoon, with its opportunities to regroup and rethink and reorganize, no matter how crazy the morning has been.

What’s remarkable is the evening, with its quiet solitude and a chance to reflect, no matter the successes or failures of the day.

What’s remarkable is tomorrow.

Every single time.

Peace

Copyright 2019

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If You Only Understood

 

If you only understood, you wouldn’t fight so hard to deny it.

The rabbit holes you negotiate are a distraction from the chaos – chaos that threatens both your sanity and your grief.

If you only understood, you wouldn’t fight so hard to deny it.

You cannot separate yourself from the dementia of those who have preceded you – you have been slated for nothing less.

If you only understood, you wouldn’t fight so hard to deny it.

Your irritation over that child’s smallest indiscretion stirs up lost memories – memories that reveal your exhaustion and your guilt.

But perhaps I have misread you.

Perhaps you do understand.

Peace

Copyight 2019

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Trust

 

One of the things that I have learned about myself over the years is that I can be quite gullible.

I’m not talking about being politically naive, or about getting hoodwinked by some huge financial scheme. I retain a healthy dose of skepticism about those things.

No, I mean on a day-to-day basis, whenever I’m interacting with those around me. Usually my guard is down and I too easily – too eagerly – accept most of what’s told me, all at face value. I tend to assume that the other person is not trying to mislead me or set a trap. My training over 35 years as a New York City lawyer takes a willing back seat.

And sometimes I get burned.

Most days, I find myself confronted by many of NYC’s homeless. It’s a growing problem here. Mostly, I ignore the way too many calls for help. But sometimes, one plea is aimed directly into my heart.

I’m not really sure why.

Maybe it’s the unavoidable eye contact with a particular person and then a quick sizing up that they are harmless and sincere (which may well not be accurate). Whatever it is, I engage.

Heck, I’m a sucker for a good hard luck story.

I realize that any number of people with whom I engage are outright liars. And that whatever gets transferred between us may be spent on more things harmful.

But as I tell my kids, I’d rather wear my gullibility openly than don the mentality of a cynic. I find that way too dark. I’d despise that world – and the depression that would surely follow.

I don’t much like the dark.

And who knows when the tables might next turn?

I mean, there are no guarantees.

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy – Thomas Merton

Peace

Copyright 2019

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Dust

 

soon enough the dust will settle, from finger

to forehead, from forehead to heart, but it

is in the act of consuming that I am now

consumed, and it is through the fires I

walk that spawn the dust to which I

must quickly return

 

Peace

Copyright 2019

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Foundations

 

The foundations you long ago abandoned now lie broken.

You once thought they would stand forever, left alone. But time and idleness have never ceased their assault. And even the deepest stress points are finally found, relentlessly punished.

It is incomprehensible that you’ve never looked back at the ruins left by your false starts and feckless speculations. And you have heedlessly remained as one with your past, flitting as you do from idol to idol.

Not every foundation is adequate to its purpose, it’s true. But you will never deduce one from the other.

Unless you first take the measure of both bedrock and sky.

Peace

Copyright 2019

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But Colors Also Fade

 

Skies of azure blue may still coax our fading attention toward all things eternal. But the blackness of night first demands surrender of our vain deceits. Midnight’s shadows may, for a time, mask our scarlet stains. Yet they offer no pretexts, bid no alibis.

But colors also fade.

And soon enough, everything becomes remarkably clear in the awakening light.

Peace

Copyright 2019

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Distractions

 

Winter’s charge disorients us from the simple resurrection awaiting just beyond. The blinding white brushing against my window hides not only the soil’s deep sleep but its terrifying palpitations. And I am reminded by the early nights that we only turn corners more frequently and with greater abandon.

It’s all a distraction.

As if to keep a single moment’s beauty from setting our soul eternally on fire. One that we too often fear. Yet one which harnesses as much renewal as destruction.

We are creatures too easily distracted, too easily fooled.

Still, the winter ends.

Peace

Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

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We Have Stopped Listening

 

There are certain myths that we tell ourselves when the truth is just too difficult to bear.

Those on the far left too often concern themselves only with the morality of physical walls, while their hearts and minds remain impervious to the horrors increasingly attendant upon a culture of death. A culture that they themselves helped create. And one that wholly denigrates, if not unconsciously despises, those most vulnerable among us. Those on the far right too often engage themselves solely in a war over cultural barriers. But in so doing, shared ideals of love and compassion are easily, if not inevitably, exchanged for phony idols and merciless damnation. Diatribes replace dialogue, condemnation overwhelms charity.

From whichever direction we approach, the result is the same. And we are all the worse for it.

But we are neither hapless nor helpless. And we have as many opportunities for listening as we do of one-sided debating.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t “judge.” (Let’s be honest, even articulating such a thought today feels, at once, both narrow-minded and bigoted.)

Yet there remain standards, and morals, and shared fundamental principles that were once unquestioned, once simply assumed as necessary for a civilized people if peace and progress were to be advanced for the common good.

But somewhere along the way we began to unlearn what that all means. We have allowed our commonality to be outpaced by our individual self-importance. We have demanded of others what we dare not first demand of ourselves.

And we have stopped listening.

Peace

Copyright 2019

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