Thursday, September 23, 2010


I am a yellow dog democrat. For anyone who doesn't know what that means, I would vote for someone's Labrador Retriever (a 'yellow dog') against the Virgin Mary if she were running for crossing guard as a Republican.

I tried being an independent but it didn't work out.

Back in 1980 (remember that long ago?) I pulled my VW Bus (what else?) into the parking lot at St. Paul's in New Haven. There was a little lady with a driver holding a box waiting on me and there was a John Anderson for President bumper sticker on my car. The little lady said, "we just won't talk about politics, will we?" and had her driver carry in a box of welcome food for us. It was a wonderful . Heart of palm, capers, some tenderloin steak so fresh and sweet you could have held it raw in you mouth and your saliva would have melted it, smoked oysters, handmade pasta, imported candies for our children, English tea biscuits, two nice bottles of wine, fresh asparagus--lots of stuff we weren't used to in Charleston, West Virginia.

She told Bern and I she just wanted to welcome us to our new home. Her name, she said, was Mary House. I later found out she was Mary "Bush" House--sister of Prescott and aunt of George. No wonder my Anderson sticker was a problem!

But being an independent didn't work out. So, after that (having been a Goldwater Republican as a teenager) I became a yellow dog democrat.

More later....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Autumnal Equinox

My Autumnal Equinox

I stood an egg up on its end.

I listened to the crickets from the porch.

I grew like a pumpkin in its patch.

I flew to the dark side of the full moon.

I visited my left ventricle and my medulla obbligato
in a minuscule vehicle fashioned from filaments
of gold and mesh of mystery
by the Green Man in our hemlocks.

I pitched (and won!) the 7th game
of the World Series.

I became Henry Kissenger
for Halloween tricks and treats.

I talked to all the Saints
and all the Souls
and was charming and disarming to them all.

I was the first frost on the grass in the back yard.

I was Scooby Doo's balloon in the parade
and the yams at Thanksgiving dinner.

I thought of you
and knew

jgb 9/21/10

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sudden Autumn

I had to get up Monday night and put on sweat pants and shirt because I was cold. Autumn suddenly showed up.

This morning was so glorious I almost broke into "Holy, Holy, Holy. Lord God of Power and Might, heaven and earth are full of your Glory...."

Then I remembered something Karen Armstrong wrote about the Sanctus in her book, A History of God. The Hebrew word that translates into Latin as 'sanctus' and English as "Holy" is kaddosh.

Ms. Armstrong writes: (I looked it up) "When we use the word 'holy' today, we usually refer to a state of moral excellence. The Hebrew 'kaddosh', however, has nothing to do with morality as such but means 'otherness', a radical separation. The apparition of Yahweh on Mount Sinai had emphasized the immense gulp that had suddenly yawned between man and the divine world. Now the seraphs were crying: 'Yahweh is other! other! other!'"

I second that emotion....For me God's 'otherness' is constantly looming out far ahead of me. There is a mystery inexpressible in what I experience as 'God'. God is, to me, both 'the Holy Other' and 'the wholly Other'. What does the pot know of the Potter or the painting of its Artist?

Which is why the sort of informal, friendly, collegial way some Christians talk about God makes me uneasy. A parody of a hymn goes, "What a friend we have in Jesus, Christ Almighty, what a pal....'

A rather fundamentalist Episcopalian once asked me if I had "accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior". I told him I was still working on accepting Jesus as my 'formal' Lord and Savior. Jesus as the Savior next-door, the friendly God from down the street, 'my buddy, Jesus', just isn't part of my Theology.

I upset quite a few people back when the WWJD stuff was going on. People looking at the next moment of their lives wondering What Would Jesus Do? seemed rather vain and self-centered. I told some of them I was like Lloyd Benson to their Dan Quail: "I know Jesus, and you're not Jesus...."

Besides, the answer to the inquiry of "What Would Jesus Do?" is pretty easy to answer: Die so that we might have seems to me....

A better question for me is "What the hell am I going to do?" when faced with life. I am convinced that God is always present to me, but it is usually as a silent partner. When push comes to shove, I have to make decisions that may be blessed or may be disasters....

I knew a woman in Charleston West Virginia who told me she let the Crucified One pick out her clothes each morning. "OK, Lord," she would say, staring into her closet, "what should I wear to give you glory today...?"

I swear she told me that. I simply thought the Logus, the Creator of All, might have something more pressing than being her fashion consultant. But then, she did have a lot of very nice clothes and most likely needed such guidance.

So, for this breathlessly lovely early Autumn day, just let me say thanks to the mysterium terribile et fascinans that is God. (Thanks also to Rudolf Otto for the words to 'name' the Otherness....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


We spent 10 days with John and Sherrie and Mimi and Tim. I've known John since WVU days and Sherrie has been our friend since we moved to CT in 1980. Jack, Sherrie's husband couldn't go but she came anyway.

What I noticed about such old friends is that we share 'stories' from over the years. We needn't even tell them--there are key words and hints that make us think of them. Stories are the glue that holds community together, stories are the context for the content of life, stories are the web of relationships.

Of course our daughter knows most of the stories, even the ones she wasn't around for and Tim, her boyfriend, is a quick study and picks up on the narratives, becomes a part of the web easily.

Tim and Mimi have been together long enough that I should call him her 'partner', I suppose. Tim and Mimi stories are part of the context of our shared lives.

It is such a joyful thing to be around people who 'know your stories' so well they become their stories as well.

And we laughed about 90 % of the time we were awake and probably in our sleep as well. Laughter can be fraught with remembered pain or with the memory of great joy. Laughter is a web of relationship as well. Sometimes, with some people, most every thing makes you laugh....

Heinrich Ibsen said once, "there is no pain that cannot be borne if you put it in a story and tell a story about it.' That's one of the wisest and most profound things I know.

Somewhere in here about stories is a paradigm for the community of the church. Maybe someday I'll get around to making the analogy.....

big ol' tree

There is a huge horse chestnut tree in our front yard. Actually, it's on the property line between us and Bernie, who spends most of the year in Boca Raton. When it falls, as it surely will someday, it will most likely hit Bernie's house rather than ours. Most likely it should be cut down before it falls down in a storm, for everyone's sake. But it would cost a mint--Bernie could do it out of pocket change but we'd have to mortgage the dog.

Besides, it is a noble old tree and still gets leaves and still drops chestnuts--which, if you could eat them would be neat....but you can't. I've tried and rue the day....

There is something haunted house about it when it finishes dropping nuts and loses its leaves. It is about 100 feet high, I estimate, and, like chestnut trees are want, very spread out.

The nuts make Bern's hand push mower crazy and drop on cars going down Cornwall. But there you are. I really like it....besides, if my estimates are right, it is tilted toward Bernie's house and he's gone a lot and has insurance....That's not a nice attitude, I think, but so it goes....

Monday, September 6, 2010

another day in paradise

So, here I am on Oak Island, North Carolina. It is a south facing beach and staring out at the Atlantic, the sun is setting brilliantly on my right. It is high tide and the beach is only about 10 yards wide. At low tide it is about 40 yards and you can walk about another 100 yards and not be in water higher than your waist.

The wind is blowing hard off the water. I'm in a house with some of the people I love most in the world. What could be the problem?

Nothing really.

Yesterday was our 40th Anniversary--Bern and me--and we went to a great restaurant in Southport--Mr B's Bistro. Astonishingly good sea food. Mimi and Tim and Sherrie paid. John drove. It is a wonderful quartet for us to share that round number anniversary with.

We eat like fools. Drink a bit. Sit on the breeze way, out of the sun, or on the deck or on the rooftop deck and read and read and read. Consuming syllables like nectar of the gods....which words are.

Pelicans sweep by in formation, crashing into the ocean for food. Way out a container ship has sat all day, waiting, I suppose, for news from Wilmington that the berth is ready. Who knows....

How soft and lovely it all is.....

Blog Archive

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.