October 12, 2015,

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

Today is Columbus Day, but it isn’t politically correct to honor Christopher Columbus anymore. He and the Europeans who followed started a process of genocide of native Americans. Some of this was unintentional as Europeans unwittingly introduced various diseases into native societies. The Europeans also wiped out many native Americans through warfare, famine, and alcohol. I like the bumper sticker that says, “Native American. Fighting terrorism since 1492.”

For me there is more to Columbus. In some ways his first voyage connects with our human desire to explore outer space. He thought he could reach the east by sailing west. Most European scholars knew the earth was round, but what was its circumference? How far west would Columbus have to go before he got to the east? In my own readings about Columbus I know that he was aware there was more to the west than empty ocean. There was talk from fishermen of an island called Braz-isle. This is our current South American nation of Brazil. Columbus was also aware of the trade winds and currents of the Atlantic. What I am saying is that Columbus was taking more than a risk sailing west. He was taking a calculated risk. There was both uncertainty and knowledge in undertaking this voyage.

This journey was a triumph of the human spirit. Columbus was a man of deep faith, and in his own way he worked with God to reach into the unknown. We too are called to be navigators—people who make sense of this life. We live in two worlds. One is physical and the other spiritual. Both are real. Columbus applied his understanding of his spiritual life to find his way through unknown parts of a physical world. In so doing he discovered a new land that others came to understand as the New World. As we live within the known aspects of the physical world, can we do the reverse of Columbus and explore the amazing qualities of the spiritual world? God is ever ready to accompany and guide us on this interior journey! With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,