“These insights I have gained in the school of life”



Anthony DeMello begins his book, Wellsprings, with: “I imagine that today I am to die. I ask for time to be alone and write down for my friends a sort of testament for which the points that follow could serve as chapter titles.” He goes on to list 16 questions or categories to consider and write on. 

Number 1 is:

“These things I have loved in life:
Things I tasted,
looked at,


The first time I went to the Happiest place on earth, Chicago, I was brought to Gino’s East. Before the pizza came to our table, I remember being elated to see a picture of David Letterman eating pizza on the wall. There were so many other people pictured, but I was only impressed and enthralled with David Letterman. It was the first time I had Chicago style deep-dish pizza. I would not have it again for several years during a spring break in college. 

Just one friend and I went on this spring break together. We chose to go north to a frigid Wisconsin for our spring break. It would be a week of journaling and drinking coffee. It really wasn’t bad at all. There came from it a couple crazy stories. One of those is going through the tolls just over the state boarder into Wisconsin. It was a time when you threw coins into a basket to make the wooden arm go up. We came up on the basket but the car in front of us hadn’t not put in exact change. We put in our full amount to make the arm go up and attempted to follow the cheapskates through the arm, and through the arm we did go, breaking it clean off. We both looked at one another in a silent panic, and one of us said, “GUN IT!” So I’m a criminal.

Also on this trip, there was a day spent in Chicago. We went to a lot of the spots everyone goes to, and we wanted to be certain we had pizza before we left. We walked everywhere we went. On our way to Gino’s, we came across a homeless man who had asked for spare money we would not give him if we HAD it. Instead, we asked him how to get to Gino’s East and if he wanted to grab some pizza with us. He warned us no place was going to let him in, but we insisted. 

I can still feel the encrusted hand shake my own. At some point, we realize what you throw to the side in order to make a marginalized person feel like a person. His hands had more than dirt and germs swathed within them. His hands held loosely memories of family and a childhood lived somewhere. With a simple handshake, you have to feel all these things below the grime or this man never becomes a person.

Not many sounds come flooding back to me from that day, but today I can hear the naivety of two college guys who realize this man they sat with had already known the years we knew plus some. This meant, two college kids were unaware that his “condition” could have easily been their immediate future. They just thought they were doing something so incredibly noble and loving. 1 out of 2 ain’t bad. 

The noblest and most loving thing we can do is to humanize the people we walk past every day, even if it means looking below the grim encrusted on the outside.