During his 40-year career as a priest, the Rev. Michael Kennedy wrote weekly musings for his parishes' newsletters and bulletins, but few people beyond the congregations ever saw them. When he underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2003, friends convinced him that it was time to share his wit and wisdom with a wider audience.
"They approached me during my recovery and said, 'Let's get serious about this,'" he said. And he did, producing "Musings from Michael" (DeForest Press, $20), a collection of his favorite writings.
"It has been said that while most people look straight ahead at life's challenges, I tend to tilt my head and look at life from outside the box," he writes in the book's preface. "The result can be a new insight, or it might just be tilted and strange."
Kennedy, 66, had saved all of his musings, which made choosing his favorites a daunting task.
"The hardest part was picking out the stuff," he said. "In the end, it came down to a little bit more than a flip of a coin."
The selection includes a bit of everything. There are poems, narratives and essays covering a wide range of topics and moods, from a sad account of child abuse to a playful call to discover your "inner puppy." An exploration of "who or what we should be willing to die for" is juxtaposed with Kennedy's self-deprecating to-do list, which includes "get more feedback on my sermons" followed by "avoid that man who says my sermons stink."
Before retiring, Kennedy, a Minnesota native, served at St. Olaf Catholic Church in downtown Minneapolis, St. Austin in north Minneapolis, St. Mary of the Lake in White Bear Lake and the Church of St. Patrick in Oak Grove. He also did a stint as executive director of the Priests' Personnel Board for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
His book, published a year ago, was popular among members of his former churches, but it only recently has started to find a wider audience.
"It's not a new book, but it's new to most people," he said.
Finding it at a bookstore, however, can be tricky. He suggests going to his website, home.comcast.net/~michaeljkennedy/, and clicking the "musings book" link or contacting him by e-mail at email@example.com.
While you're at the website, you also can see a picture of his dog, a Cairn terrier named Fearghus.
"We get along well because he's stubborn, too," Kennedy said.