Oddwalk Ministries

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Guest Blogger: A Christian Astronomer Reflects on the Total Solar Eclipse

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Andy Pucket, PhD

(This article was written to be published this coming Monday, August 21, but we decided to post it a few days early due to the tremendous interest in the upcoming total solar eclipse.)

My name is Andy Puckett, and I’m a professional astronomer. When I look at the world around me, I tend to see the big picture. The Sun “rises and sets” because the Earth rotates. Seasons change due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis. The position and phase of the Moon are based on the predictable motions of the Moon and the Earth. And all of these are based on the physical laws of the universe: motion, gravitation, acceleration.

I am also a Christian, so I see God’s hand in all of this. I know that He doesn’t move the moons and planets capriciously. I see the order and predictability of their motions. And I believe that God wrote the underlying laws of motion, and that he also gave me the curiosity to try to understand them.

Today (August 21st), many of you may get to see a total eclipse of the Sun. That’s when the Moon gets directly between the Earth and the Sun, and you find yourself in the darkest part of the Moon’s shadow. The Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun but also 400 times closer, which is the happy “coincidence” that makes this amazing event possible. But the Moon’s orbital plane doesn’t line up perfectly with the Earth’s, which is what prevents solar eclipses from being regular monthly events.

It’s very rare that a total solar eclipse passes within driving distance of your house, and even rarer for one to pass directly over where you live. If you do happen to be within the 70-mile wide “path of totality” today, you’re in for a treat!  For up to 2 minutes 40 seconds, it will become as dark as night; the wind will get cooler and change direction; the solar corona will pop into view; and everyone around you will know that they’ve experienced something extraordinary.

Total Solar Eclipse

I’m a scientist, and there’s great science to be done during an eclipse, but that’s not my plan for today. I’ve been looking forward to this eclipse for 20 years, so I’m going to just take it all in. And I’m going to make sure my family gets to experience it safely, including my brother-in-law Shannon and all of our kids. I hope to help them see the big picture, and God’s hand in all of it.

A note from Shannon about this week’s article:

Andy Puckett is my brother-in-law and the Assistant Professor of Astrophysics at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. Andy is also a practicing Catholic and is perhaps more excited than anyone else I know about the much-anticipated Total Solar Eclipse, set to dazzle us this Monday. For this article, Orin and I asked Andy to do an eclipse-related followup to Orin’s joy-themed article from a few weeks ago, entitled “Ongoing Creation”.  In that article, Orin asked the question: “What is it that you are doing these days, using the creative gifts given you, at the service of God and the Church?”  In our view, through the witness of his Catholic faith and the joyful enthusiasm with which he shares his knowledge of our physical universe, Andy is daily answering God’s call to glorify God with his life.  We thank Andy for taking the time to write this for us.

Joy at NPM

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Hi all, Orin here, continuing his usual busy summer of acronyms: a couple weeks ago was YSP, this week is the annual convention for NPM, National Association of Pastoral Musicians.  (Next week is another YNIA which Shannon and I will do together, Shannon already told you about one of those.) Anyway, yesterday was travel day, which is why this Jesus-Justice-Joy post is a day later than usual.

Just as YSP brought me a certain joy (which a tired me told you a tiny bit about in a video), every year NPM brings me a joy as well. While of course I am a church music director in addition to my Oddwalk fun, I’m here this week also as a composer of music for the Church as well.

Here’s a photo from the exhibit hall last night of a book from GIA that both Shannon and I have songs published in, called Crossgeneration.

 

Knowing it’s selfish mostly, it does bring me a bit of joy to see that music that I and Shannon have written in print – but beyond my own ego, part of that joy is it being still available to the wider Church to help them pray in song. (I hope to sneak photos of other octavos in print with WLP and OCP later today!)

Another joy this week is being able to reconnect in person with so many other composers I have gotten to know over recent years. There is a certain fellowship and camaraderie in that particular group of people, with a particular ministry to and for the Church.  Here are a few of us out to dinner last night, photo credit to Kate Basi.

 

Sharp eyes will see my wife Erin in the photo. Another joy is being able to spend a chunk of this week with her, taking a little personal time here and there to just be us, away from home and most of the responsibilities and worries there.

All of these joys are rooted in Christ and my faith in him.  It is Christ who gathers, who forms community, and gives us talents to praise him in song.  St. Augustine purportedly once said that “The one who sings prays twice.”  If so – and I think that’s right – there’s a whole lotta prayin’ goin’ on in Cincinnati this week at NPM.  Thanks for reading!  —Orin

Are you a recognizable Christian?

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As we here at Oddwalk continue along our journey of more intentional blogging, it’s my (Orin’s) turn to share a bit about the second word of our tagline, “Justice.” Though that tag line has only accompanied us for some 16 or so months now, justice has always been an important piece of who we are…

Scheduling Jesus

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A day or two in the life…

This here is a great example of my wife Erin’s sense of humor: very sharp and not at all afraid to throw in a well-placed cuss word. Also, to answer her question, Erin knows A LOT of things I don’t. She’s very smart. That’s another blog entry, though.

In this case, the thing I knew was that I needed to prepare to write this blog article. Part of that preparation was creating a full day, week-long event entry last week, called “Jesus”, to remind me to pay more attention to where I encounter our Lord in everyday life. Erin didn’t know that, though. I hadn’t had time to tell her that I was writing an article, that Orin and I were planning to try and write something every week. There just isn’t enough time these days for Erin and I to talk about things that aren’t absolutely essential to helping our family function well.

The Cernekas, you see, are a very busy family. In addition to my work with Oddwalk, I work full-time for a parish and school. Erin works full-time as a nurse practitioner in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She also runs a craft business, making headbands, bows, t-shirts, etc. Erin and I have four kids, ages 4-12. The older three are all involved with sports and scouting. The youngest is in pre-school and is preparing to take over the world. I suppose I made that last part up, but when it happens, don’t forget you heard it here first. In addition to all of this, Erin and I try and share our musical and ministerial gifts as much as time and resources will allow. This means leading music for Mass, helping with retreats, and doing what we can to support our local diocesan youth and vocation events. It’s safe to say we have burned the candle at both ends and have ordered more candles.

All of this brings me back to that screen shot of my calendar. While I look to grow in Christ each and every day, I meant that calendar entry to be purely functional, something to help this article deadline not be just another well-intended goal that slipped through the cracks. Yet as I look at it now and think about the craziness that is my life, it occurs to me that I could use something like that. Every. Day. Maybe you could too. While I work for a Catholic institution, go to Mass regularly, pray, and take more than a passing interest in my Catholic faith, I know full-well that I often do not place Christ at the center of my life, at the center of my decision-making, at the center of my family. So, this coming week, I’m committing to spending extra twenty minutes with Jesus. Ideally this will be in church, but I know Jesus will be there for me wherever I am. I know twenty minutes isn’t much, but it’s something. Jesus shouldn’t be just another calendar entry. Jesus has to be everything.

What about you? How are things between you and JC? Is there room to improve that relationship? Ok, that was a trick question. Of course there’s room. There’s always room. What kind of time and space can you commit this week to strengthening that relationship?

-Shannon

Playing Catchup

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Hey folks – just a few updates for you, exciting things have been happening!

Any Given Sunday – Shannon had a reflection there recently for Divine Mercy Sunday, and Orin will in a couple weeks. Check out Shannon’s here.

Another Publication! – Orin has another piece in print at WLP, “The Lord Is My Shepherd” – a choral setting of Psalm 23 he wrote for his last Shrine mass about 3 years ago. Check out the sample score and listen to a bit of audio here.

Week of the Young Child Concert – For the 10th anniversary of this celebration, Orin joined Shannon and Chris & Isaiah Korte for a program in Kirksville MO, and we all were featured on the local news! Watch below.

It’s our 10th Oddiversary!

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Such Decade

SUCH DECADE

Hello everyone! Today, October 24, 2014, is the 10th anniversary of the very first Oddwalk performance!

As we said on our 5th anniversary, “Whenever Orin and Shannon are asked about Oddwalk’s origins, how we met, etc., we find ourselves using language as if we’re talking about a wedding or a marriage.  While that analogy is certainly more different than it is like, Oddwalk is certainly about relationship and relationships, and it is a day to celebrate just that!”

To celebrate this milestone,  we’ve put together a brief pOddcast from that very first Oddwalk show for the diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota. You can listen to it here, on our pOddcast page, via iTunes, etc.  You’ll here early versions of your favorite Oddwalk songs, snippets of stories, watching the 2014 world series, and a whole lot more!  Maybe you’ll discover, as we did: the more things change the more things stay the same!


Play now: 10th Oddiversary Podcast!
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Additionally, on our Facebook page for the last 10 days, we’ve been posting highlights of the last decade – check those out, and “like” us over there!

Thanks for the opportunities, everyone, to travel as much as we have and to offer our talents and services for the building of the Kingdom.  Looking forward to another great 10 years, maybe more!

 

Shannon’s Top Ten of 2011

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Well, here ends another great year for Oddwalk Ministries. We had the opportunity to bring what we do to a lot of great places: Granite City, IL – Toledo, Ohio – Mascoutah, IL – Breese, IL – Belleville, IL – Davenport, IA – Washington DC – Buffalo, NY – Fairview Heights, IL – Hazelwood, MO…

Meet Dot

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Hi All – sorry for the lack of blogging lately.  Between the pace of professional and personal lives, as well as just using twitter and facebook more, well, no excuses, but still an apology. Anyway, meet the newest member of the Cerneka household, Dot, brining the total number of feline, canine, and human residents up…