Category Archives: beauty

A Visit to Yap

I was recently blessed with the opportunity to visit Yap, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia.  In my search for “the true, the good, and the beautiful”, Yap is solidly in the “beautiful” category.

Yap is due east of the Philippines, between Guam and the Republic of Palau, as you can see on the map below.



Here is a map of the major islands of Yap State.

I stayed in Colonia, the capitol, and had the opportunity to spend a day visiting some remote villages in the northern municipality of Maap.

A few days in this beautiful place hardly qualifies me as an expert, so I will go easy on the facts and opinions and just put up a few pictures with captions.

I was struck by two things during my visit.  First, I was amazed at how close these indigenous people were to the land and sea, and how they used the natural materials around them to their best use.  I was also struck at how traditional they have remained in the face of intense contact with the West.  I think we have much to learn from the perspective of these islanders.

Here’s a short clip showing what boys will do when they don’t have access to iPads or the internet: have a betel nut race.


Sunrise in Yap
A traditional men’s house in a Maap village.
Traditional Yapese stone money.
Traditional Yapese sailing canoe.
the stone road in the Ngolog Agroforest










Here’s a very short clip of the island of Rumung (aka “Forbidden Island”) as seen from Maap in Yap:

Click here to see all of the photos I took during the trip.

My Seventh Sister

My little sister, actually my seventh sister, Colleen Patricia White, celebrated her 40th birthday this week.  That would not usually be remarkable, except for the fact that Colleen is remarkable.  Colleen, born within a year of the issuing of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade opinion, was born with Down Syndrome.  Besides getting the extra chromosome associated with Down Syndrome, she was born with a life-threatening intestinal problem that caused the doctors to discretely ask my parents if they really wanted her to undergo the surgery that would be necessary to save her life.  Hint.  Hint.  Thankfully, my parents insisted on the surgery, and here she is, 40 years later.

Colleen has taught me that the world’s standards of beauty, intelligence, talent and usefulness are not the basis of human dignity.

Some of you may know people with Down Syndrome, and if you do, you know that they are special and beautiful in their own way.  Colleen is beautiful too, but not by the world’s standard of beauty.  We live in a throw-away world, but Colleen has taught me that the world’s standards of beauty, intelligence, talent and usefulness are not the basis of human dignity.

Several years ago, I was dining at Rein’s Deli in Vernon, Connecticut with Colleen and several members of my family.  Colleen started to raise a bit of a ruckus and we perceived that she was starting to disturb the other diners.  I offered to wheel her – she was in a wheel chair – outside for a bit.  As I walked with her, weaving between the other tables, I first felt embarrassed.  Then a small voice, maybe my conscience, maybe God, said, “No, this is good for your soul and there are several people here who need to see the love and care you show to your sister.”  It then dawned on me that Colleen’s purpose or mission or “ministry” was her very presence, and not anything she would accomplish by her actions.  Throughout her whole life, she’s been bringing out the very best in others every day, in love and care.  I can honestly say, and I know my mother and siblings would agree, that her presence in our family has been a profound gift to us.

Happy Birthday, Colleen!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:13-14

Take a few minutes – less than five – view this video of a child developing in the womb.