Reardon packs spiritual gems in two small books

June 25, 2000
Elisabeth Sherwin --

Patrick T. Reardon, an award-winning urban affairs reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, also is the author of two small books packed with wisdom.

His first book, "Daily Meditations (with Scripture) for Busy Dads," was followed by "Starting Out: Reflections for Young People" (ACTA Publications, 2000, $5.95).

His book is meaningful to me because I knew Pat when he was starting out in his career. I lived in my first apartment in Evanston, Ill., on the northern border of Chicago, and Pat lived in the city. He was, in fact, a city boy born and bred, the son of a Chicago cop.

When I met Pat, I'd already decided to move to California. He was kind enough to act as my guide to a few places in the city that I'd never spent much time exploring; the South Side, the University of Chicago, Hyde Park. I remember visiting Hyde Park bookstores and eating Greek gyros with Pat one cold Sunday just days before I got in my MGB sports car and drove to my new beginning in California.

As the years went by, Pat's career progressed. He married Cathy and had two children, David and Sarah. He and his family have lived at the same Chicago address for more than 20 years. His faith has deepened over the years, too, and both his books reflect his desire to share that faith.

"The idea was to put together a book for young people starting out in the world; kids graduating from high school or college or getting a first job," he said. "There aren't a lot of books out there for this group, partly because they're not big readers and they've got so much going on in their lives and what do you say?"

He found quite a bit to say, in short bites. Like this piece titled "Us-and-Them."

"Avoid us-and-them thinking. There is no 'them.' We're all 'us.' Don't think of differences in beliefs, skin color, language, culture, income, sexual orientation, dress, education, as things that separate us. These differences are like spices. They give life its tang."

The book contains more than 100 of these little messages, each with a quote from a famous person that connects the thought.

"In many ways," said Reardon, "as I was writing these reflections I was writing to David, 14, and Sarah, 12. These were things I was saying to them in everyday life, usually with more awkwardness and less clarity of thought than I was able to achieve in the book. Watching them grow up, I had a good sense of what was on their minds and what wasn't. So my goal was a book that David and Sarah might find interesting to read, even if it wasn't written by their father.

"And there was one other thing I found. As I wrote, I realized I wasn't just writing for David and Sarah and all of the kids their age, but I was also writing for myself and for people my age. I just turned 50 and if that's not a new starting-out, I don't know what is. We're always facing new situations, experiences, realities, uncertainties in our lives and in that way we're always starting out."

His book takes an honest look at the good and bad looming ahead in the unknown future. Here's another reflection, "Failed."

"It is human to fail, to drop the ball, to blow the sale, to get the facts wrong, to mix the ingredients incorrectly, to say the wrong word, to break the vase, to spill the oil, to scratch the paint, to run out of gas, to arrive late, to sing off-key, to cut the fabric raggedly, to miscalculate, to stumble, to overlook, to miss, to fall, to err. OK, so you've failed. Welcome to the human race."

He also advises his readers to be kind.

"That may seem like overly sweet advice, but once you're out in the world, you'll see how pervasive unkindness can be. You'll meet people who are rude and who back-bite and slander and denigrate and sneer and play favorites and enjoy inflicting pain. You can be sucked into this unkind approach to life. Don't be afraid to be nice. It's a happy sort of rebellion against the way of the world."

The book is "Starting Out: Reflections for Young People" and it may make the perfect gift for someone you know, young or old. Thanks for writing it, Pat.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

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