Monday, August 29, 2016

Gene Wilder, please rest in peace

He was never 'in your face' as either an actor or a comedian--not like Tom Cruise or Jim Carey. He was just around the edges of your life, in quirky little ways, not causing tsunamis--more like a gentle spring rain or the first snow of winter.

Gene Wilder had a gentle way of getting under your skin.

He was one of my favorite actor/comedians. He always said, "I'm an 'actor' not a 'clown'" and that was so true. He didn't 'tell jokes', he just 'acted' in wonderfully funny ways.

I heard an interview with his nephew--he had no children, much the loss of DNA--who revealed that he had been diagnosed with the Alzheimer's that killed him eventually three years ago, when he was 80. Gene, and his family, decided, before his disease had progressed very far, not to let anyone know.

The reason was this: when Gene Wilder went out in public, even a little 'off', children saw Willy Wonka and smiled at him. He didn't want the parents to tell them he was ill or damaged and take away their joy at seeing him.

Even that is gentle and sweet.

He's one of the few celebrities I wish I had known.

Go gently (as you always went) into that Good Night, my friend.

Be well and stay well in whatever it is that comes next after giving so much joy to so many.

Ready to have it over....

My favorite two months of the year are September and October. I adore autumn--the cooling breezes, our September trip to Oak Island, North Carolina, the riot of leaf color, the mid-day warmth and evening chill. It's everything I love.

So, it is not without great regret that I would wish away those two months this year just to get the election over!

My candidate is not the one I would wish for, but I don't have to hold my nose to vote for her. Hillary has more experience, perhaps, than anyone to ever run for President. And the 'Hillary Hatred' is simply silly and a waste of time.

The other guy is a nightmare. And may just divide the country in a deeper way than the Obama years has divided it. Ugly stuff is around the edges of Donald's campaign--white nationalism, the Alt-Right, fear of the 'other', no matter how they aren't white or Christian....Ugly stuff.

I just want it over and even at my advanced age, I'd give up my two favorite months if (as the pollsters always say) 'the election were today'.....

God save us from the next 70 some days!!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

weird dreams

I was in Jungian analysis for 8 years or so. My analyst always wanted a dream. If I didn't have a dream I remembered that week, he had a sand box with a whole wall of shelving of figures and creatures and little models. I'd play in the sandbox for 15 minutes or so, then Victor would take a Polaroid photo of it and we'd talk about what I'd created in the sandbox.

Jung was only interested in the un-conscious--dreams and play.

So, I pay attention to dreams, even all these years later.

Jung thought you only dreamed in order to help yourself deal with some issues not in your consciousness. Stuff below the surface wanting to be made right out in the 'real world'.

I had some weird dreams last night. They had to do with 'losing things' and 'not being able to move'. I lost our dog Bela and couldn't find Bern to tell her. And then when I was trying to find her, walking up some steps of a University or something, it was like walking through amber, unable to really move.

I've had 'losing things' and 'not being able to move' dreams before. They are always important and vital and full of revelation--it's just not obvious what all that is because it is a call, an invitation from the unconscious life I live without knowing I'm living it!

So, I've got some stuff to ponder (the dreams were much longer and vivid than I described!) And I know it will be like wrestling with your Angel, like struggling with the unknown, daunting and so, so important.

I'll let you know what comes out of being Jungian about these weird dreams....

Friday, August 26, 2016

I'll never drive to NYC again

We went down to be with Mimi and Ellie on Thursday. It was Tim's first day of work after 3 weeks of paternity leave. He called and texted about ever hour, asking for a new photo.

Tim is seriously smitten with his baby girl, it's safe to say!

She is so sweet and good. Mimi nurses her on demand as the doctors want. And she holds her and nuzzles her, but mostly Ellie sits in her seat and either dozes or looks around. She didn't cry the entire time we were there! Amazing. Both our children cried 13 hours a day for months!

She was especially interested in her grandmother, watching her intently and making faces at her.

Mimi had on a pair of pre-pregnancy skinny jeans on Ellie's 3 week birthday--it's no understatement that mother and daughter are doing well....

It took 4 1/2 hours to get home (90 miles) and I was late for a wedding rehearsal. Going down took a little over 2 hours and 20 minutes finding a parking place in Brooklyn. I finally parked in a building 3 blocks from their apartment. Only costed me $38 for 3 hours. That would buy a train ticket.

Which is what we'll do next time and every time after that. What a nightmare the drive back was. There was a sign on the Merrit Parkway that said "Route 8--12 miles 49 minutes", which was true. The GPS told us I-95 was even worse.

Ah, living in the Northeast, what a joy....

Something to spend some time on....

I was looking for the information about our dog, Bela, because Bern and I disagree about how old he is. I know we have something from the breeder but haven't found it yet.

What I did found, in a squat file cabinet in my office, one that has a door to a space and the file part has to be opened from above.

What I found was about two feet of pages I've written over the years. Some of it is stuff I remember, but most of it is stuff I don't remember at all, some of it on paper with those two little side strips with holes for the printer that you can easily tear off. I haven't had a printer like that for a quarter of a century or so.

So, I have something to spend some time on--going through all that to remind myself of who I was when I wrote it.

Like an exploration of my past lives!

Sounds like fun.

I'll let you know what I find....

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First post

Thought I'd share the first post I ever wrote since I've done 1700 since.

Sitting under the Castor Oil Tree (March 7, 2009)

The character in the Bible I have always been drawn to in Jonah. I identify with his story. Like Jonah, I have experienced being taken where I didn't want to go by God and I've been disgruntled with the way things went. The belly of a big old fish isn't a pleasant means of travel either!

The story ends (in case you don't know it) with Jonah upset and complaining on a hillside over the city of Nineveh, which God has saved through Jonah. Jonah didn't want to go there to start with--hence the ride in the fish stomach--and predicted that God would save the city though it should have been destroyed for its wickedness. "You dragged me half way around the world," he tells God, "and didn't destroy the city....I knew it would turn out this way. I'm angry, so angry I could die!"

God causes a tree to grow to shade Jonah from the sun (scholars think it might have been a Castor oil tree--the implications are astonishing!). Then God sends a worm to kill the tree. Well, that sets Jonah off! "How dare you kill my tree?" he challenges the creator. "I'm so angry I could die...."

God simply reminds him that he is upset at the death of a tree he didn't plant or nurture and yet he doesn't see the value of saving all the people of the great city Nineveh...along with their cattle and beasts.

And the story ends. No resolution. Jonah simply left to ponder all that. There's no sequel either--no "Jonah II" or "Jonah: the next chapter", nothing like that. It's just Jonah, sitting under the bare branches of the dead tree, pondering.

What I want to do is use this blog to do simply that, ponder about things. I've been an Episcopal priest for over 30 years. I'm approaching a time to retire and I've got a lot of pondering left to do--about God, about the church, about religion, about life and death and everything involved in that. Before the big fish swallowed me up and carried me to my own Nineveh (ordination in the Episcopal Church) I had intended a vastly different life. I was going to write "The Great American Novel" for starters and get a PhD in American Literature and disappear into some small liberal arts college, most likely in the Mid-Atlantic states and teach people like me--rural people, Appalachians and southerners, simple people, deep thinkers though slow talkers...lovely for all that--to love words and write words themselves.

God (I suppose, though I even ponder that...) had other ideas and I ended up spending the lion's share of my priesthood in the wilds of two cities in Connecticut (of all places) among tribes so foreign to me I scarcely understood their language and whose customs confounded me. And I found myself often among people (The Episcopal Cult) who made me anxious by their very being. Which is why I stuck to urban churches, I suppose--being a priest in Greenwich would have sent me into some form of I would have driven them to hypertension at the least.

I am one who 'ponders' quite a bit and hoped this might be a way to 'ponder in print' for anyone else who might be leaning in that direction to read.

Ever so often, someone calls my bluff when I go into my "I'm just a boy from the mountains of West Virginia" persona. And I know they're right. I've lived too long among the heathens of New England to be able to avoid absorbing some of their alien customs and ways of thinking. Plus, I've been involved in too much education to pretend to be a rube from the hills. But I do, from time to time, miss that boy who grew up in a part of the world as foreign as Albania to most people, where the lush and endless mountains pressed down so majestically that there were few places, where I lived, that were flat in an area wider than a football field. That boy knew secrets I am only beginning, having entered my sixth decade of the journey toward the Lover of Souls, to remember and cherish.

My maternal grandmother, who had as much influence on me as anyone I know, used to say--"Jimmy, don't get above your raisin'". I probably have done that, in more ways that I'm able to recognize, but I ponder that part of me--buried deeply below layer after layer of living (as the mountains were layer after layer of long-ago life).

Sometimes I get a fleeting glimpse of him, running madly into the woods that surrounded him on all sides, spending hours seeking paths through the deep tangles of forest, climbing upward, ever upward until he found a place to sit and look down on the little town where he lived--spread out like a toy village to him--so he could ponder, alone and undisturbed, for a while.

When I was in high school, I wrote a regular column for the school newspaper call "The Outsider". As I ponder my life, I realize that has been a constant: I've always felt just beyond the fringe wherever I was. I've watched much more than I've participated. And I've pondered many things.

So, what I've decided to do is sit here on the hillside for a while, beneath the ruins of the Castor oil tree and ponder some more. And, if you wish, share my pondering with you--whoever you are out there in cyber-Land.

Two caveats: I'm pretty much a Luddite when it comes to technology--probably smart enough to learn about it but never very interested, so this blog is an adventure for me. My friend Sandy is helping me so it shouldn't be too much of a mess. Secondly, I've realized writing this that there is no 'spell check' on the blog. Either I can get a dictionary or ask your forgiveness for my spelling. I'm a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa ENGLISH major (WVU '69) who never could conquer spelling all the words I longed to write.

I suppose I'll just ask your tolerance.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

first time in all these years....

My post a few days ago "Rules vs. Healing" was a big part of my sermon Sunday.

Afterwards, a man who's there most weeks and doesn't receive communion said to me, matter of fact like, "if that sermon was for me, it didn't work."

These are small churches, so I notice if someone doesn't receive communion. And my sermon was about the rules about baptism and communion. But I've told him several times he was welcome and he's thanked me and told me he wouldn't.

I've never asked him 'why?' because I think receiving communion is a very public and very private thing, both at the same time. I just want him to know he's welcome.

But what showed up for me in the first time in 41 years of doing this preaching stuff, that he--and how many others?--have thought I was 'preaching to them'?

I'm never 'preaching to them'. What my preaching is about is 'preaching to me'--saying stuff outloud and in public that I think I need to hear. It has never occurred to me that I was 'preaching AT' anyone but myself.

Lots of people over the years have told me, "I really needed to hear that" and things like that, but I always assumed they just needed to hear what I needed to hear, along with me.

Now I have to ponder--what if people think I'm 'preaching at them'?

I don't like the thought--but I need to ponder it.

I do.

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.