Wednesday, June 30, 2010

another reason I've lived too long...

As I was about to turn off my blog spot...which, by the way, I have trouble getting to, I know not why....I saw a message to the right. Here is what it said:

Browse and blog in side by side windows by dragging a tab to one side.

Maybe in the end this is several reasons why I have lived to long.

1. I have no idea what that message means.
2. Even if I did know what that message means, why would I want to do that, whatever it is.
3. I couldn't figure out how to turn off the 'bold' while writing #2.
4. I don't know how I turned it off the write #2.
5. the 'b' that means bold is still a different color than the 'i' that means italics but what I'm writing isn't bold and I simply pray that when I post this all will be well when I go back to my blog--which, did I mention, is difficult sometimes, I don't know why?

All that I don't know confounds me and tells me that perhaps I have lived too long.

I hope not.....

winged hope flies

I know I've worn you out with the adventures and misadventures of the robin nest on our front porch. This may be the last chapter of the story, bear with me....

To recap: after we thought there were no eggs, Mama Robin--or some Robin came back (who can tell one from another, after all?)

At first I thought she was having an hysterical pregnancy (or whatever you would call thinking she had laid eggs and she hadn't...). Then we saw little heads poking up, mouths open, and everytime I saw her she was carrying a worm or bug or something icky.

Then, just a day or so ago, I saw a robin sitting on the top of the nest and another with his/her head above the nest's edge. These were miniature robins--all feathered and colored and looking like they were ready to fly.

Today, I walked out on our back deck and one of them was under the stand where bern has a big pot with a strawberry plant in it. I was as startled and the bird was and she/he flew across the deck to the bench. I ran to get bern but when we came back (s)he was gone, though we heard the Mama yelling her head off....

"Will they come back to sleep in the nest?" Bern asked.

I have no idea. This may be it. Maybe, once they fly, they leave the nest for good. Perhaps even the mother will be gone now. Who knows about robins...? Not me.

We've fretted so much about them and just like human children, they won't call, they won't come back, they'll just go live their own lives....

But it has been wondrous to fret about them...and to have seen one of them fly. (s)he also defecated on our porch before he/she flew. Maybe shit comes before freedom....

If they are gone, I will miss them terribly and yet look at every robin I see with love and joy....It was so profound to share in their lives....though they didn't share in ours....

Life and flight and wonder and joy. Hope flies, after all this time....Hope flies....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

The backyard zoo

So, there is this multitude of birds in our back yard and a family of chipmunks and, most recently, a momma bunny and at least one baby bunny. Bunnies are so so cute....And nevermind our front porch robin and her two babies--always mouths open and she is running back and forth (flying actually) to bring them worms and bugs. On the way back to the porch there is always something icky in her mouth....

I sit on the deck with my binoculars and watch it all. We have a little bird bath and a dozen or so birds a day bathe there, amazing to watch.

I had begun to think this was always so and it is only now that I'm not gone most all day most all days that I've just never noticed before. So I asked Bern and she answered:
no outdoor cats.

Until last summer we always had an outdoor cat. Before that both Catherine and Millie were on the hunt and kill day after day. What a menagerie of creatures they left by the door--moles, baby squirrels, birds half eaten, lots of creatures. But they're both gone so the yard has become a cat-free-zone and the creatures are everywhere.

I truly love it, watching all this life....the zoo is open....

work comes along...

The Diocese has asked me to go do supply work at St. James' in Fair Haven next Sunday and the Sunday after. It's very flattering that they thought of me. I've lined up 4 other Sundays in July and August as well. However, the thing is, the Diocese isn't real sure where the Eucharist will be or if anyone will be there...They're paying me nevertheless so why would I complain?

The Rector left the Episcopal Church this week. It wasn't so much a surprise as it was sudden. So the Diocese is trying to find out what's going on with the congregation and who has a key and stuff like that. They might be meeting in a local school.

The Rector who left did so because the Episcopal Church is damaging his faith in God, or something like that. He's one of the ones who has been shaken up in the past decade by how horribly 'liberal' the EC is. (Point of view is everything: I think the EC is to the right of moderate!) So it is a bit ironic that they're asking me to go there. Geoff and I are as far apart theologically as Barney Frank and Rush Limbaugh are politically.

So, I'll keep you updated unless I'm held hostage until Gene Robinson resigns.

Washington is burning...

I was in DC last week and so today's heat is nothing to compare to the Nation's Capitol.

Built on a bog in the middle of a swamp, the whole city is perpetually damp and when the heat comes sweat sheets on your body on the dash from an air conditioned building to an air conditioned car. You sort of steam in that kind of heat.

I was there to lead a Making a Difference Workshop at Howard University School of Divinity. We've gotten in the door at Howard and the next step is to get credit for the workshop. It now gives continuing Education credits. I happen to think every seminarian in the country should do the workshop--course I would, wouldn't I???

I committed to have a MAD in Ct in 2011. Sign up now and sign up early....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

lightening bugs

I saw lightening bugs tonight in our back yard. You might call them fireflies, but you know what they are. I see them rarely in Connecticut but when I was a child in West Virginia, they were as thick as a plague. They were everywhere.

When I was a child we would catch them in my Uncle Russel's front yard by the mayonnaise jar full. I regret to tell you that we would tear off their tails and make bracelets on our sweaty wrists and the girls would make necklaces of firefly tails in the moisture around their necks.

And did we ever let them out of the jars before we fell, exhausted and damp into our beds?

What I don't remember is how we scraped the tails off our skin after the glow finally left....Probably I don't want to know that.

I was in a restaurant in Washington, DC about a year ago. It was the night of the terrible train wreck that injured a lot of people. The restaurant was only on stop from where the accident happened. Buses were lining up to take people around the wreck area so they could get home. It was terrible. Everyone eating knew about it and we were all horrified.

When we came outside, across the street from the restaurant there was a little patch of grass, filled with lightening bugs. They blinked and blinked and we all stood in silence watching the wonder of that display.

Then life interfered. We had to go where we were sleeping. We had all had too much wine and, I remember distinctly, I had chicken livers...something you don't find too eat.

And people were on there way to hospitals and some of them would die and two wars were raging and the economy was in the toilet and the world as we know it was about to implode.

But there was this: those lightening bugs took our minds away from all that for a long moment and we simply watched them flicker in the night.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

my back deck

It is amazing what I see out there.

We have a family of chipmunks in our yard this year.

One came up on the deck when I was out there reading and our Puli dog was sleeping. It came up (I sat real still) and sniffed Bela, then left the way it came, climbing down the Rhododendron bush.

Today it was a group of young chickadees who were flying in and out of the trees that surround our deck. They would be on a branch high up and then simply drop like a rock and then fly to another place. I'd never seen birds drop like that before flying. I watched them for half-an-hour, moving through the foliage.

Then I thought about our Robin on the front porch in her nest. This group of 4 or 5 chickadees were obviously young. If the Mama Robin had eggs, wouldn't they have hatched long ago--like these young chickadees?

And the male hasn't returned, yet she sits on the nest hour after hour, leaving only occasionally to feed, I hope. She is so stoic about her pose. We can stop and talk to her, 4 feet away, and she doesn't flee. I still am worried about what is going on. It seems so odd to me. Where is her mate? Why is she, now in summer, still on the nest? I fret about her now.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

God loves us

I drove for a long time today behind a car with a bumper sticker which said: "Horses are God's way of telling us he loves us".

Since I was behind that car for 15 minutes or so in slow traffic, I pondered that sentiment. I think it is true. I didn't grow up around horses, but I was never far from them in my childhood. I learned to ride a horse quite young--and though it was a work horse I learned on I realized there was something remarkable about a creature that large that would do what I asked with my childish hands on his reins and my heels against his body. Riding a horse is a wondrous thing. And horses, in and of themselves, are remarkable. They are so huge, so intelligent, so social and their eyes and faces are so expressive that folks who know them well realize what a awesome gift they are.

My father, as a teenager, rode a horse to deliver the mail from Waiteville to Rocky Gap and Union. He went day after day--winter and summer--and the horse and he became bonded in a way it is hard for people who don't know horses to recognize and acknowledge.

I went to Maria's new house today and met with people I love from the staff at St. John's who I have hardly seen for a month and a half. It is difficult and problematic not to be welcome at the place I served and worked for 21 years. I understand the need for me to 'disappear' as the parish goes through what it needs to do to find the next Rector. And I feel left out and lonely because I loved those people so much for so long. So seeing the staff members was a gift to me--something like a proof that God loves us.

I gave Maria a card I found in my favorite gift shop that showed four young women from decades ago lying on their stomachs and toasting the camera with red wine. The card said:
"Wine is God's way of proving he loves us and wants us to be happy...." In vino veritas, I always say. Amazing how God's love shows up in our lives.

Sitting on Maria's front porch I heard dozens of birds and saw many of them. It's like that in our back yard--birds in abundance, lots of songs, flashes of color...birds, it seems to me, are a proof of God's love.

If you only sit still long enough and think about it, there are so many ways to know about God's love. Beauty, Hope, Poetry, Music, the face of One you Love....the air you breathe, the light in the early evening, the taste of melons, the moon and the come we don't realize how deeply and eternally we are loved by God? How come we don't?

That's what I ponder.....

Monday, June 14, 2010

colonoscopy tales

You begin the day before with a "clear liquid diet". That means anything liquid that isn't red or purple. Jello works. So I ate copious amounts of orange and green jello with lots of mayonnaise --which I declare a 'liquid' though most people find eating mayonnaise on jello an offense against God, Nature and the American Way. White Grape juice, tea, coffee--no dairy--ginger ale, stuff like that--chicken broth and all. This is all you can consume for 36 hours or so before and after they stick God knows what up your butt. Along with 'clear liquid' comes pills and powder.

So, first comes the stuff that empties you out. 4 pills and 14 daily dosages of constipation relief poured into 64 ounces of Gaterade.

Two of the pills and half the 64 oz. of Gaterade/Miralax (an interesting combination of 'miracle' and 'ex-lax'--which in some situations, I suppose, is a miracle in itself) consumed in 4 8oz glasses every 15 minutes. The instructions from the Dr. say, in understatement, "be near a bathroom".

You just ingested enough stuff to make half the Republicans in Congress seem like regular human beings and the advice is: "be near a bathroom".

So that's what you do. You think of Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls and any other falls you can think of and that's what it is like for an hour or so.

Then, limp and empty, you continue your clear liquid diet and eventually, fall asleep 'near a bathroom'....Where does all this stuff come from anyway? Am I passing DNA and bone marrow? Lordy....

The next morning at 5 a.m. I take the other two pills and drink the rest of the goop--which doesn't taste foul at all--and spend two hours reading on the toilet thinking of rain storms, oil leaks, vital organs passing out of me.

At the hospital you get neat little socks and a gown you know will be pulled up to reveal your never-mind and lots of cheerful people, including the guy who is going to knock you out who looks like a college tailback and has on a bandanna around his head and a six o'clock shadow at 7 a.m. He tells you he'll knock you out and bring you back with no problem and in between unspeakable things will be inserted where the sun don't shine and most likely all those friendly people will be making fun of your posterior parts.

Finally they wheel you into the room and you look around for the suction tubes and horrible instruments of torture and the handsome young man with the bandanna says "You're going to sleep...." and in retrospect you know you were asleep before he said "now". And the next thing you know he is saying, "You should be awake now" and you are and they are wheeling you out of the room where they have invaded your parts in ways you can't understand and really don't want to know about--much like a 'date rape' of a kind--and you are back in your little cubical and the nurses are encouraging you to fart and fart and fart.

"Passing air" is what most of them say, but I had a wonderful, great-aunt kind of woman, black and blunt, who felt my stomach and said, "fart for all you are worth to get that air they let in out...."

And I did, for half an hour. During which time they brought Bern back to sit with me. Farting outrageously--I did 'rip' some, let me tell you!--is alright when given permission among strangers, but breaking air like that in front of your wife is embarrassing, even after almost 40 years of marriage....I faked a cough the first couple of times (a time-trued strategy)...till she looked at me and rolled her eyes.

Being given permission to fart at will is a teenager's wet-dream of reality. My black nurse kept encouraging me and came over to pat my belly--"got rid of those twins" she said.

The Dr. came--a good guy who had peered up my butt while I was unconscious (but he pretended we hadn't been that intimate) who told me he had cut a pollop out of me somewhere inside and that he'd let me know what that meant and on and on and then 4 more hours of jello and ginger ale and then I had a hamburger and some cottage cheese and peaches to make it seem ok to eat meat so soon after being probed in places that should be oh so private....Like that.

The Robin Saga continued

While I was away in Ireland, the mother robin came back. (I've written several posts about the robins' nest on our front porch and when I left, I thought they were gone.)

The female came back while I was gone and since I've been back she has been on the nest almost constantly. We haven't seen the male at all. I am far beyond understanding what's going on. I should Google "nesting habits + robins + my front porch" and see what shows up.

But she is there, stoic and still. I've tried making eye contact and think I have (It's a bird, for goodness sakes, who can tell???) and she doesn't fly.

Remember, when we thought they were gone I looked in the nest and found it empty. There is no way to check, Papa Robin hasn't come back.

What was since a romantic and wondrous story has turned strange and not a little dark. What happened to her mate? Why did she come back? Does she now have eggs?--even without Google it seems late in the season to me....Is she sitting on an empty nest, trying as a bird might, to 'will into being' eggs and chicks?

Since I never notice her away from the nest I am worried that she is wasting away....a romantic story turned to drama and tragedy. How would her story translate into human events? How often have I sought to nurture an illusion into life? How many of us humans have lived in 'what might have been' and missed 'what is occurring'?

How will the Robin Saga turn out?

Stay tuned....I certainly will let you know....

I feel better now

After posting that and asking to do a new post, my familiar page came up. I feel so much better now, typing on a page I recognize.

Nobody likes 'change'--that's my theory. Some people try to remain open to the possibility of change but even those people, like me, are freaked out by going to and finding a different looking page.

I went to Ireland to lead a Making a Difference Workshop. I've been a leader of those workshops for over 15 years now. The workshops are based on a series of distinctions and centering prayer. One distinction we have--though it isn't in the outline of the ws--is the distinction between "change" and "transformation".

Change is arduous, frustrating and, by in large, impossible (the more things 'change' the more they stay the same and all that.) Transformation is effortless, enlivening and a product of possibility.

Change is about 'doing' and 'having'. Transformation is about 'being' and creating.

I am a devotee of Transformation, and, like most people, I abhor 'change'...even in the form of a different looking blog page....

Long time gone

I haven't written here for a long time. Hope someone is out there reading, in spite of the absence.

I was in Ireland for 10 days and then had a colonostomy (which doesn't look right, but my spell check gives no real options for) and then went to Baltimore to visit grandchildren.

So I haven't been sitting around avoiding writing this stuff--I just haven't had the time or access to my computer.

(I have a new computer. My friend who helped me pick it out asked me if I wanted a laptop.

"No", I said.

"But you could carry it around," he said, "why don't you want one."

"Because I could carry it around," I told him.

I get really annoyed with people who always have their computer with them. Like sitting on the floor in airports plugged into the one outlet on the wall beneath the window. I think people should spend their time in airports reflecting on their mortality, reading trashy novels and watching other people, wondering if they'll be your seatmate. I also avoid any coffee shop that encourages the use of laptops. Jesus, eat a pastry or read a paper! I was even on the plane, sitting near a guy who still had his laptop on as we were taxiing to the runway, in spite of all the warnings. I was about the attack him like a shoe bomber when a cabin steward scolded him--at least as much as any Aer Lingus employee can scold anyone. The Irish are, actually, rather irrepressibly polite.

So I don't want a computer I can carry around. I prefer to be tethered to it, limited to a certain room for computer use, just as we have certain rooms for expelling bodily wastes.

I do have a wireless keyboard. My friend told me I could hold it on my lap if I wanted to--which I would never do and promised him I wouldn't.

I've been gone so long the page for writing this blog looks different than it did a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to post this so I can see if it still works, but I'll be back to write about various other stuff.

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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.